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, 10 July 2008

Stage 3: St Malo - Nantes 208km 9/7/08


Today looked like being a tough day – 208km due South from Saint Malo on the northern Brittany coast to Nantes in the Loire-Atlantique region.

We were accompanied by my Dad for the first 3 hours of the day which was of great assistance for both pacing and a wind-break! We set off at 9:00am (one hour later than intended after a rather leisurely breakfast).

After 11km we passed by the B&B from the previous evening where we were given a cheer on our way by the owners which cheered us up and put a smile on our faces. Unfortunately, shortly afterwards I had an excruciating pain in my left kneecap which required me climbing off the bike for a short time. It felt like I would not be able to carry on, but I was determined to carry on and with a bit of encouragement from Ian and my Dad I carried on and it gradually got better over the next two hours or so.

We passed through the lovely walled town of Dinan after an hour or so and it would have been lovely to stop but a telling headwind and a long day meant this would not have been feasible.

The stage was without categorised climbs but the first 50km was surprisingly rolling and we passed the highest point of the day – the pleasant village of Becherel at 50km.

We met up with Mum, who was driving the support vehicle solo today, after 75km by a lake in a little sport/adventure complex to grab an few more cakes and drinks before agreeing to meet up two hours later about 50km up the road for lunch.

The road continued through some fairly flat, if unremarkable, countryside and with both Ian and I in quite some pain from various ailments, there was minimal chat. This was proving to be a very hard flat day, and the temperature was creeping up. Lunch was a welcome respite from the trials of the day and we sat on the grass to take baguette, cheese, ham and taboule.

Moving on from here we knew we still had 55 miles to go to Nantes and with the wind still in our faces we plodded on. We were fortunate enough to have considerable shelter form the wind thanks to some fairly wooded areas and the terrain certainly flattened out. We made it to the outskirts of Nantes in 7:52:45 on a stage which had taken the pros 5:05:27 (with the day’s winner being Sammy Demoulin of France).

We were shattered and feeling worse for wear, but packed into the car and off to Cholet, safe in the knowledge that the following day’s stage was only the 29km time trial.

The hardest day to date – but very pleased with our 15.8mph average for the day.

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