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, 24 July 2008

Stage 12: Lavellanet - Narbonne 168.5km 19/7/08

We started today outside of Lidl supermarket – very glamorous! There is nothing like the odd looks you get from people as you remove your outer garments to reveal nicely fitted lycra in the middle of a supermarket car park!

Team Kate were due to fly back today and so we arranged our first meet for only 2 hours into the ride just outside of Quillan. On the way we had passed through the charming village of Chalabre which was a quintessential place with tall poplars leaning over into the main street with a couple of bars and tabacs and a genial relaxed atmosphere which is so typically French in nature.

After saying our goodbyes to the Kates and thank you for all their help (especially given the circumstances following their arrival!), we headed on our way towards lunch outside of Maury. The day was beginning to get fairly toasty and drink was being consumed at an ever increasing rate.

As the landscape began to become more arid and the land flatter, the scenery turned dramatic – with a number of ruined hill forts and castles nestled on top of long, high rock structures which ran parallel to the road for many miles. My geological knowledge is not up on what the name for these ridges is, but they would certainly have acted as a splendid vantage point to keep out attacking forces – though I’m not sure (again) which way they were attacking/defending from – answers on a postcard please!

The stage was only 167.5km long but as the day dragged on and the heat rose, we passed into very arid terrain with bare rock next to the road which, along with the tarmac, simply radiated heat back up to us on the bikes and, struggling against a stiffening headwind, we were not feeling too chipper. After the uncategorised Col d’Extreme, we had to stop and sit in the shade for 5 minutes to recover.

How the professionals manage to cope with this heat (especially in the centre of the peloton) and race and drink enough and then sprint at the end I will never know! Still, Mark Cavendish managed to earn his third stage win on this stage – so he obviously coped admirably!

We met just short of Narbonnes and threw the bikes onto the car before the short drive to our hotel.

We completed 103.96 miles in 5:52:07 at an average of 17.714mph – so a fast day but a thoroughly unpleasant one with the heat and the arid landscape providing little cover or viewing pleasure! Mark Cavendish (Gbr) won it in 3:40:52.

The evening meal turned out to be the highlight though, as we went to a place near the hotel in the village of Vinassan. The restaurant was called Chez Poirrot (or something like that) – and Monsieur Poirrot has the biggest chez I’ve ever seen. The place was HUGE. As you walk in to what is a wholly al fresco place, all you can see on a site of at least 2 acres is tables of people eating. The restaurant must have bought up all the stock of green garden furniture in and around Narbonne because when we were seated we were at table 762 (I kid you not). Service was provided by athletic young types who sprinted to the kitchen, and rapidly walked back (they obviously hadn’t yet got round to sprinting with the food!). The food was of a reasonable standard considering the size of the operation and we spent most of the meal in awe of the size of the place. Certainly the most amazing place I’ve eaten in that regard!

No comments: