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

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Get Ready...Get Set...

Well folks, the time has come. We've cycled over 8000 miles between us over the last 6 months, come rain or shine. We have got up early at weekends when most sensible people are enjoying their nice warm beds. We have driven thousands of miles getting to events all over the country. We have ridden some of the most picturesque roads in the country. We have crashed and have the scars to prove it. We have trashed our bikes, one of mine reached the point of no return and ended up in a skip! And to top it all off we have shaved our legs. I remember as juniors when we used to race bikes, we were the odd ones out becasue we refused to do it. Now we can see scars and blemishes that have been hidden under hair for 15 years! Its an odd sensation but I feel its a chance to put the myth to rest. Cyclists do not shave their legs for aerodynamics. Its simply that when you come off at high speed, hairs have a horrible habit of getting caught in the tarmac and ripping off large chunks of flesh. Also it makes massage much easier and you use considerably less sun cream. It is a little disconcerting though when your smooth legs rub together in bed and you realise that they belong to you!!

We are setting off for Plymouth on Saturday and will be getting the night ferry across the channel to Roscoff to arrive Sunday morning. By this time the pros will have completed stage 1: 198km from Brest to Plumelec. We will start on Monday two days behind them. For as long as I can remember, the first stage has always been a prologue timetrial of about 7km and this decides who will wear the famous yellow jersey (maillot jaune) on the next day's stage. Typically, the year we decide to ride the Tour, the first stage is a fully blown undulating long stage! What a warm up!

I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for supporting us and encouraging us over the past few months since we decided to do this. What started off as a fun idea has developed into a massive undertaking. The amount of training and organisation involved has been immense. In fact I think the organisation has outweighed the training! Booking accommodation, travel, car hire, plotting the routes, contacting companies for support, contacting media to help to get the message across. It really has all come together and we have been lucky to have such understanding friends and family to support us. So a big thank you to everybody!

Chris and Paula (Matt's parents) will be driving us down to Plymouth and to the start in Brest and will accompany us for the first eight stages down to Toulouse. Chris is planning to ride a stage with us too on his birthday (12th July). My very understanding girlfriend, Kate and her friend Kate (go Team Kate!!) will officially take over from here but will be joining us a couple of stages earlier. They will watch the pros come in to Toulouse and see how the best cyclists in the world do it(!) before they come and help us. My parents, Liz and Peter, will meet us in Foix ready to take over support on Stage 12 and will continue to support us right till the end in Paris on 29th July and then transport our equipment back to England. Without all this support, riding something of this magnitude would be almost impossible, certainly on the schedule we have set ourselves. Indeed, there is 1000km of transfer between stages and the thought of carrying our kit in panniers up those mountains beggars belief!

Thank you also to Ned and Nat at the Portcullis pub in Clifton (my local!) for putting up the article about our challenge in the pub. I will need a beer when I get back!

Please send words of encouragement while we are out there. We plan to update the blog regularly as we progress around the 3500km (2200 miles) route. We are going to suffer at times (most of the time!) and it really helps to have kind words of encouragement to get us through those days. We are not just doing this for ourselves. We really want to raise as much money as we can for CLIC Sargent and MacMillan and the kind donations we have received so far have really motivated us in our training. So far we have raised over £3000 and we haven't even started the ride yet.

So that's it. Next time you hear from us we will be in France so keep an eye on this blog and follow us on Le Tour.

All the best