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 13: Narbonne - Nimes 182km 20/7/08


We awoke early this morning for a 6.45am breakfast at the hotel. With thunder and lightning outside we were less than keen but it turned out that the rain had passed. The reason for the early start today was to try to cover as much distance as possible before the heat of the day because we suffered yesterday.

We gave our support crew Peter and Liz a lie in as the route passed close to our hotel and we were able to cycle out to join the route. Heading out on soggy roads we found ourselves peddling along at a good rate but we realised we were heading east towards the sea and not north-east. Damn French signposting and road numbering! Luckily we realised our mistake early on and Matt got us back on route, having covered an extra few kilometres.

A fairly uninspiring transitional stage between vinyards and fields although Capestand at 14km from the official start provided a rather pleasant canal/marina.

We met Peter and Liz at Cabrieres after the Cote de la Resclauze (4th cat climb) at 68km to refill our water bottles. Unfortunately Liz had had a bad night feeling sick probably after the heat of the previous day. As a result they had been in a rush that morning and had missed breakfast. It also turned out to be difficult to find supplies and fuel on a Sunday morning.

By midday, the day really heated up again and we realised we had neglected to put on suncream that morning. We stopped in some shade at the top of our second 4th cat climb, the Col de Puechabon, before descending to meet Liz and Peter again at Mas de Londres at 120km. They had found the only piece of shade along that stretch of road and we settle down for a picnic at the side of a field.

Our third 4th cat climb of the day, Pic Saint-Loup at 126km, seemed to finish almost as quickly as it started and we both wondered why it had even been categorised. From here the scenery became more interesting with big rocky outcrops and ruined hill forts and Villevielle at 156km provided a rather pretty little town and a long climb out of it up to the busy, rolling D40 to Nimes. We stopped 10km short of Nimes at Caveirac as we had done an extra 15km today already.

We covered the 187km in 6 hours 54 mins in the saddle compared with Mark Cavendish (Gbr) in 4:25:42.

That night was spent in an excellent logis, called Le Colombier, near the famous Pont de Gard at Remoulins. We were provided with beer immediately by the owner and then, after a thunderstorm, we stretched our legs by walking to the Pont before dinner. The French have really cashed in on this by charging 5 Euros to park by the river. Only a few people were seen splashing about in the river but it must get packed during the heat of the day.

After an excellent dinner we slept well from our efforts despite the humidity.

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