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, 19 June 2008

Tewkesbury 100km and Cotswold Expedition 202km

Apologies for the delay in updating. As the Tour draws closer, much time has been spent tying up loose ends. We are almost sorted now for accommodation. Ferries and flights have been booked. Van hire has been looked into and we are finalising our nutrional requirements so that we can order in supplements for the big event. Little things like insurance and european breakdown cover for support vehicles is all under control. Amongst all this, I have been maintaining my weekend rides, keeping the intensity and volume down now for the lead up to France.

On Saturday 7th I met up with Matt and Chris in Tewkesbury to ride the Tewkesbury 100km event (actually 110km by the time we had taking a slightly "alternative" route!) An excellent scenic and lumpy route drawing a large number of riders. The Bristol organised events always seem to be well subscribed. The route covered a lot of familiar roads for me (having ridden a lot of Cotswold events). The route headed out towards Bishops Cleeve, Gotherington, Didbrook and a long grind of an ascent towards Stow. The photo shows Matt cruising up this hill. A quick stamp at the Broadway tower and we carried on to a fast descent on the A44, turning off soon onto a hidden and rough cyclepath, the cyclists ahead of us missing it and luckily hearing our yells for them to stop, otherwise they would have had a long hill to climb back up! Through Chidswickham, Aston Somerville and Dumbleton to a very nice control and cafe at Beckford Silk. Three Cheese and Ham toasties here for lunch. Matt by now suffering with hayfever. Pushing on we went slightly off course at Wadborough adding a couple of miles but made the garden centre control near Norton Barracks in good time, with only a tandem ahead of us. After spending a good 15 minutes looking for the conroller to stamp our cards we gave up and got till receipts to prove we had been there and headed back to Tewkesbury via Kinnersly and Dunstall Common. At one point we got overtaken by a truck carrying cut grass which did nothing to improve Matts hayfever! All in all a great ride with the three of us riding together again. 70 miles at 16.4mph average.

This weekend gone, I travelled up to Wythall South Birmingham for the Cotswold Expedition 202km audax. The 200, 150 and two 100km events drew a crowd of 350 riders, the most popular audax I've ever ridden. Obviously some very good riders and expensive bikes on this. Heading out to Ullenhall I joined up with a guy called Francis from near Basingstoke, Hampshire. We got on well and seemed to be going at a similar speed so stuck together. It turned out he had never ridden more than 100 miles so I wondered how he'd fair over a hot 125 miles. Pushing on through Aston Cantlow and Binton the first control was again at the Broadway Tower, a little more popular this time. From here we cycled along some of the same roads from last week near Ford and Snowshill. Around Salperton we were caught by a large group of Solihull CC riders, average age I would say about 65 years. These guys were phenomenal. The guy at the front, who looked over 70 and had been racing the day before, was powering up hills on his big chainring. We stuck with them till the next halfway control at Burford but I knew I'd never keep the pace up. I didn't know what speed we were doing as my computer wasn't working but it was fast over the Cotswold hills, heading through places such as Kineton, Hazleton, Sherborne and Windrush.

At Burford, Francis and myself continued on with a chap from Cambridge I had ridden with on the Meriden audax a few weeks ago. The Solihull lads stopped for a bite to eat in Burford. We were fine through Swinbrook, Kingham,and Bruern (though feeling the effects of the last few fast miles) but got lost around Whichford. After doing a bit of a loop a lady kindly produced a map from her house and we found are way from Whichford to Sibford Ferris and from there to the next control at the George & dragon pub in Burford. A large Coke and a tuna mayonnaise sandwich went down well here. As we were eating this the Solihull boys arrived and carried on. One of them had obviously had a nasty crash and was covered in blood. The three of us pushed on for the last 38 mile section through Walton, Hampton Lucy, Lowsonford and Tamworth. After pushing along a good pace, I started to suffer in the last few kilometers but finished in a total time of 8 and a half hours. Francis did a brilliant ride.

Today I had the pleasure of speaking to the children at Rangeworthy CofE primary school where Kate's mother Jane is head mistress. I spoke to the school about our Tour and the children were really interested and it was really nice to be able to talk about our challenge. Its hard to get across to 5-10 year olds the magnitude of what we are taking on but the idea of 2 and half times the distance of Lands End to John O'Groats is a scary thought! A few were especially interested how I would be able to go to the loo if I was cycling for 2200 miles!! Only two and a half weeks to go now!

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