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

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Three mixed weekends

Well I've missed updating a couple of rides on here which is a bit of an oversight. Now that the old work-life balance is being restored I have more time to get my thoughts down on paper!

The Tour route has finally been fully disclosed on the Tour website and we are in the process of mapping it all out so we don't get lost! It's all getting a little close now!

After my last update I've managed a pretty poor 320 miles in 3 weekends.

On 17th May I headed out East to do an extension onto a ride I'd done back in February heading to Linlithgow, Livingston and then South towards Biggar and home via Abington (a service station next to the motorway) and then a rapid route back north. The main reason for doing this route was to heads through the strangely named village of Quothquan (according to Wikipedia: "The name is derived from Gaelic and translates as The Common.") - so now you know (and so do I as I only just looked it up!)

I didn't feel too good on the ride and my heart rate was a bit high (probably due to a touch too much booze the night before), but I felt strong once I'd blown the cobwebs away and managed a 16.3 average for the 123.5 miles with two blowouts thrown into the bargain and having to ride the last 15 miles out of the saddle (very sore legs!!)

In the next week I managed a short ride from Melrose (half of which was with the rear wheel rubbing on the chainstay). I do this unintentionally, mainly because I'm totally stupid, but it does help with resistance training. It's so much easier without the rubbing!

Anyway, that following weekend I didn't get out as the wind was blowing a hoolie and I really didn't fancy it - naughty.

I had a good'un this weekend though, managing 53 miles on Saturday morning in the blistering heat before heading through to Edinburgh where James (my old flatmate) and I had been invited for the Edinburgh Office work ball. Thank you to Gillian and Ellie for entertaining us that evening and apologies for my early exit.

I left early you see, as I had a ride starting at 9:00am 20 miles South of Glasgow. This meant leaving at 7:30am and hence getting up at 6:30 - urghhh

The ride was one I had been meaning to cover for quite some time - down to the highest village in Scotland (Wanlockhead) and back. This was going to be about 115 miles on roads which I mostly knew - so was looking forward to it. I hadn't ridden the climb to Wanlockhead in over 10 years since Andy Kitchen and I rode it while completing the Land's End-John O'Groats in April 1998.

A total of 43 entrants set off and as I was warmed up already I found myself at the front unutil the rode sloped upwards and I slowed to keep the old heart rate down. This folks had 40miles less than me to do, remember! I found myself in the middle of the pack then after about 5 miles before a guy about 50 metres in front had a massive blowout and crashed badly. Three of us stopped to help him up, get him and his bike to safety and make sure he was going to be OK. He ushered us on our way and so, with everyuone having passed us we found ourselves at the back of the pack.

I plodded on by myself picking up the odd person here and there and only stopping for a stamp at the first check before heading on. A long climb towards Crawfordjohn from Glespin followed and then down a long valley descent to Sanquhar where I stopped for a quick refuel to tackle the brutal headwind up the steep V-shaped valley to Wanlockhead. This was a 6 mile climb rising about 350 metres. The wind really made this a struggle and I was not enjoying myself as my strength was fading and I was being passed left, right and centre.

I made it to the lunch stop gladly however and had a very pleasant soup and an Irn Bru. A big group of about 25-30 shortly packed up to leave and I tagged on to the back. The stop and the food had done the power of good and I found myself near the front of the group following a sharp climb. As others' legs were getting significantly weaker due to a lack of distance, mine were staying the same or getting stronger and I was enjoying myself, powering up hills. However, this is whe nthe rain started. 40-45 miles from home it started to rain - good Scottish rain - which comes from nowehere and doesn't stop. It was miserable. It was cold. It was windy. I was grumpy. I was sleepy. I was not Happy.

I arrived into the finish at Strathaven Scout Hut with a large group from the East Kilbride Road Club, grabbed a quick bite, topped up the water bottle and bade them adieu as I trudged the last 20 miles home on me lonesome. Not pleasant.

Overall, a good training ride, though one of the least enjoyable. Off down South this weekend to see my Grandad - who in his day was a very keen cyclist himself, riding around most of the coast of the UK in his holidays, and frequently riding to watch Yeovil FC play away games as far away as 100 miles. And he didn't look nearly as silly as me as they hadn't invented Lycra back then! The craziness runs in the family you see!

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