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, 28 April 2008

A Mixed Weekend in Wales

This weekend was supposed to be another double: The Milford Haven 203Km starting from Carmarthen on Saturday followed by the Dic Penderyn 150km starting from Merthyr on Sunday.

On Thursday I got out with Dad again and we put in 40 miles. We headed out along the lumpy lanes from Portishead across to Butcombe where they brew my local favourite. After a good deal of looking, we were unable to find a pub in Butcombe so we pushed on to Wrington where we found a very nice pub. It turns out that Butcombe beer is, in fact, brewed in Wrington and not Butcombe! Gorgeous weather and some big hills made this an enjoyable outing.

A 5am start on Saturday for the 100 mile drive to Carmarthenshire, west Wales. I arrived an hour earlier than predicted so I needn't have got up so early after all! I was looking forward to this ride. It was a hilly 127 mile route heading out past Milford Haven and into Pembrokshire, apparently Dylan Thomas' neck of the woods. Well 9 miles into the route, and powering up a long drag there was an almighty noise and I noticed my front mech rubbing gainst my chainrings. Initially I thought this had come loose, but a couple of seconds of further examination revealed that I had snapped my seat tube right the way through where it meets the bottom bracket. GAME OVER! With extreme care and trepidation, I turned round and made it back to the start with my frame feeling very ropey! Anyway, I got back to the car and drove home. 200 miles of driving for 18 miles of cycling. What a great start to the weekend!

Sunday's start was a more reasonable 9am in Merthyr and I had arranged to meet up with Matt's dad Chris and Dave, who I had ridden the Hereford 48 miler with in February. I borrowed my brother James' bike for this one. I used to time trial on it but as a training bike it really felt odd. Several inches smaller than my (now dead) bike although considerably lighter. We had originally planned to ride the 150km event but due to inclement weather and Chris and Dave's training regimen, we decided to do the 100km Dec Penderyn event. Dic Penderyn was, apparently, a man who fought for the rights of workers several hundered years ago and was incorrectly hanged for killing a policeman. Its thought that he was framed because the law had had enough of his meddling. While the 150km ride actually visits his monument in a churchyard, the shorter 100km went out as far as Sennybridge. This was a very hilly route heading over several cattlegrids and accross the Brecons. It was so murky and foggy you could barely see the guy in front of you! And sheep posed an equal hazard! After a good lunch in Sennybridge we were well stocked up to attack the "Devil's staircase", a notorious haipinned climb up several hundred feet. I'm pleased to say I powered up this, having had to get off this time last year. No problems this time and I felt really strong all round. Being a short event, I used the hills for power training, powering up them and waiting at the tops for the rest of the group. All in all an enjoyable ride. Chris and Dave's traing is also paying off. Well done Dave for riding his hilliest and longest route so far! He also provided some light entertainment by falling off three times (we've all done it!!). Great to have friends to ride with.

We covered this 63 mile route at a 15mph average.

This week I'm hoping that we will be able to get my Eddy Merckx racing bike set up. I will be riding this in France and need to get used to riding it over the next couple of months. If I break this too, then I'm really stuck!