Setting off on Le Tour - Brest, Brittany

Setting off on Le Tour - Brest, Brittany
Ian (Left) and Matt (Right)

Hello and a very warm welcome to our blog.

We are two amateur cyclists who have decided to follow in the footsteps of our cycling heroes and ride the complete 2008 Tour de France route. This year the most famous cycle race in the world covers 3500km (2200 miles) over 3 weeks in July and takes in some of the highest mountain passes in the Pyrenees and Alps.

We will start two days after the professionals on 7th July in Brest, Brittany and ride the whole thing stage-for-stage, road-for-road, day-for-day as the pros will be. This will result in us arriving in Paris on 29th July, having averaged 100 miles per day. Please click this link to see what lies ahead of us:
Our aim is to complete the whole route and this means that we will not be racing round but riding at a sensible, sustainable pace. As a result, we expect to be in the saddle for 12 hours on some days.

Friends and family will be driving a support vehicle but we will not have the benefit of masseurs, soigneurs, chefs and team doctors that the pros have. And there will be no Testosterone, EPO or illegal blood doping going on in our Tour!

We hope to raise as much money as possible for two very worthwhile charities: Ian is raising money for CLIC Sargent and Matt for MacMillan Cancer Support. Please dig deep and support these charities via our justgiving pages on the right. Alternatively, please email us with your name, contact details and the amount you would like to donate and we will contact you after we complete our tour.

At this time, a friend of Ian's, Robbie Stuart, is fighting Leukaemia and is a supporter of CLIC Sargent's work. A link to his blog can be found here. Best wishes go to Robbie who is currently recovering from a bone marrow transplant.

Please tell you friends about our blog and what we are doing, and please send us words of encouragement and support.
We will update you with our training and we will be keeping a diary on here as we ride the event in July.

Best wishes

Ian and Matt

Monday, 21 April 2008

Carmarthen Bay 200km and Dustman Dave's Double Doddle 220km

This has been a tough week's training.
Following on from last week's 307km ride where I rode the furthest distance in one day for several years, I decided to set myself another challenge: to ride two 200km rides back to back.

Along with some light turbo training early in the week, I decided to do a short (60 mile) ride on Thursday. Having put together his racing bike after moving to the west country, Dad thought it was about time to get back on it after a lay-off of several months. The night before I planned a route to cycle out to Portishead to meet Dad and then we would cycle from there over the hills to Clevedon, then out into Somerset towards Cheddar. Rather than going over my usual route up Cheddar gorge, I thought that, being it was Dad's first ride for a while, we would go up to Shipham. Unfortunately this turned out to be a very long climb with lorries passing us regularly on their way to the quarry at the top. Anyway, we made it and had a pub lunch before heading back to Portishead, and my final leg back to Clifton. I used this as a recovery session and it was a good workout for Dad who put in 40 miles.

An early rise (5am) on Saturday to drive to Pontardawe near Swansea. Drizzle on my windscreen along the M4 and seeing tress blowing in the wind told me that it was not going to be an easy ride. A carpark start at Pontardawe leisure centre at 8am attracted about 25 cyclists for the event including 2 tandems. I started off with the group but after dropping everybody up the first climb, it would be the last time I would see another cyclist! With the wind behind me I steamed my way around the coast through Millenium Coast Park to Burry Port Harbour and on to Ferryside. I didn't bother stopping at the first control except to get my card stamped and ploughed on through Carmarthen, Llansteffan all the way to Amroth and had a bite to eat on the sea front. A big climb up to Summerhill and I knew the second half was not going to be so nice. The wind really picked up and I had to really work to keep the bike moving. The return leg took my over the west Wales hills back round to Carmarthen to a control at a pub in Ffairfach who had not been expecting anybody yet! They had prepared sandwiches for the cycliststs so I gladly munched on these before pressing on to the finish at Pontardawe. I finished before the marshals arrived at the control.

I averaged 15.5mph over this hilly and windy 125 mile route and was first back by a long way. I had been meaning to take it easy knowing that I had a longer ride the next day, but in the wind it was impossible to keep the heart rate down.

Another 5am start on Sunday this time to get to Bishops Lydeard, Taunton for an 8am start. No rain today and less wind. Although this ride had "doddle" in the title I was not going to be mislead knowing that we were heading into Exmoor! This time I found myself in a group of 10 or so riders and we set a great pace out to the first control on the seafront close to Dunster. Today I decided I was going to stop at controls and the rest of the group did too. They were amazed that I had ridden yesterday as well so I explained my plans to ride the Tour in July (bringing out mumbles of madness!). From Dundter we had a seven-man group and we made great time past Dunster castle, up a long, foggy climb (an alpine gradient) which I powered up leaving the group behind bar one rider, and we continued to Tiverton at about 20 - 22mph for some of the way. We had lunch at the Grand Western Canal country park in Tiverton. The next section would take us back to the start after 84 miles. On the long drag up to Wiveliscombe, our pace split the group leaving myself and 2 others to power on for some cake at the next control. This had been a fairly hilly route so far (about 1500m of climbing) and were pleased to hear that the scond half would take us out over the Somerset levels. This loop took us through Kingston St Mary, Creech St Michael, Stoke St Gregory (lots of saints!)to Langport where I scoffed some jelly babies before we made our way back to the finish control at Bishop's Lydeard.

A great ride of 137 miles polished off at 16mph average.

A solid week overall, covering over 320 miles. Next weekend is going to be a toughie with a 200km event starting in Carmarthen on Saturday and a hilly 150km event starting in Merthyr Tydfil on Sunday.