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

Sunday, 27 January 2008

By now you must be thinking...

So far we have placed 3 posts on here, all of which make us sound like we are cycling disaster stories! But that's half the fun of well as squeezing into figure hugging lycra and hobbling around in cycling shoes, there is a certain amount of unpredictability. Pretty much anything can happen! Mechanical probs, mad car drivers, getting lost, potholes... we are hoping that the roads will be nice and smooth when we get to France. Places where the Tour passes through really make an effort to do the roads up before it passes through so the roads are generally a joy to peddle on. Wish the same could be said for British roads...!

New Roads!

Well I went back to see my parents this weekend and to pick up a wheel so that I could start training again. While I was there I found an old route sheet for a local 75 mile cycling route, organised by a club about 10 years ago. In fact I think I rode it back in 1995.

Lovely route and all. Got to about 25 miles into it and followed the directions to the T. Unfortunately after a little while I realised that the directions were making no sense. So phoned Dad, who looked at an up-to-date map. Some fool had gone and built the A3 (T) road since this route had been written and I was miles out. By the time I got back onto the route at 35 miles, I had already done an extra 20 odd miles so decided to give up and cycle home before darkness set in.

To add to the fun, my cycle computer, heart rate monitor and rear light decided to stop working!

Apart from that, an excellent undulating ride and I did somewhere in the region of 90 miles so turned out to be good training.

Matt's Front Tyre has had enough

Well after some late night Burn's night celebrations I set out somewhat bleary eyed on Saturday morning on what was a pleasantly mild day. I made it just over an hour before riding through some standing water into a wheel-sized hole at about 20mph.

This caused an instant puncture and threw one of my bottles across the road. I ground to a rapid halt and set out to replace my inner tube. (Now, whenever I go out for a ride, I always forgot one thing - money, pump, drink, food, etc - and this time it was inner tubes!) So I got out my puncture repair kit to find that the patches were the cunning variety that fail to actually stick to anything. What to do then?

Just then a chap came past on a bike shouting "You alright there?" Before I could respond he'd naffed off up the road - thanks for that then! So I decided I would ring around a few folk to see if anyone could rescue. This honour is usually reserved for my Dad, but as he was about 350 miles away this wasn't very practical!

So James got a call - no answer. "Rusty had stayed at my flat the previous night and was still comatose in the living room when I left - I'll try him", I thought. But both he and Ryan had already left.

Next option - Mark - no answer. Kirsten - phone turned off. OK - who would actually be up at 10:30am on a Saturday morning? Anna. And sure enough she was and kindly said she would come and get me if I could direct her.

"Somewhere on the back roads between Eaglesham and Strathaven" wasn't too helpful though, especially as she had no idea where either of those places are - this is a girl who things Abu Dhabi is in Wales, so I was in for a long walk home. At that moment a cyclist in a red top, who was on his way home to East Kilbride passed and gave me a tube though, so I was saved. (If you happen to read this - please get in contact - I owe you a tube!)

I quickly got the tube in, tyre on and pumped up and then on inspecting the tyre found a rather large hole caused by the, erm, hole. So back home it was.

And I felt awful so it was an afternoon of lounging on the sofa for me instead of getting a new tyre which also put paid to Sunday's ride too. I'm off to the gym now to make up for it though.

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Ian's Back Wheel Has Had Enough!

Two-thirds of the way round an 85mile ride last Thursday, I noticed a rather disturbing wobble in my rear gears.

On return, examination by a cycle mechanic revealed the bearings had disintegrated in my freewheel and I would need to order a new freehub and have it fitted before I could use the wheel again.

This is a real blow because it will take days to get this part and I do not have a spare wheel until I visit my parents on Sunday and pick one up from there.

Fingers crossed, all will be sorted after this weekend and I can get back to proper training again. I have done a bit of running this week and used the exercise bike at the gym but its not the same!

I have a few 100km and 200km rides lined up so really need to get back on the bike and get those peddles turning!