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 4: Cholet - Cholet 29km 10/7/08

Just a 29km time trial course to cover today so we didn’t need to be up early. Therefore, we were able to take full advantage of yesterday evening with our hosts M and Mme Dugast. We arrived late at 7.30pm at their “Chambre d’hote” near the town of Cholet, south east of the previous stage finish in Nantes.

Immediately very welcoming, they showed us around there abode, a converted barn with original beams and contemporary touches. The sort of impressive kind of building you would see on Grand Designs. That evening, they invited us to dine with them and we were treated to fine wine and excellent cooking. After some home made walnut wine which was extremely tasty, a little like Port, and a few glasses of red wine I was more confident to try some of my long lost schoolboy French. With Matt’s help and our hosts speaking very slowly we communicated pretty effectively. The food was excellent. We started with a sweet chestnut salad and moved on to slow cooked home-reared veal on the bone with tons of pasta. Dessert was “Une flotante” a meringue floating on Crème Anglais. They had prepared this meal with our cycling in mind – lots of protein and carbs. They had even recorded the time trial stage of Le Tour for us to watch.

So that’s two nights in a row now where we have been welcomed into our hosts’ home and treated to dinner wit them. I am amazed and humbled by the generosity of these people!

Waking this morning I felt tenderness in the tendon at the front of my lower shin, causing me discomfort when flexing and extending my foot. Tendonitis is one of those things you can’t really train for. Muscles feeling really strong, it’s the joints and tendons that complain! I expected saddle soreness to be worse that it is so far (touch wood!)

So it was a case of slapping anti-inflammatory gel on to it and then heading out to Cholet to start stage 4. On the way we stopped at a bureau de poste (post office) to pick up our pre-arranged Powerbar delivery. Next door was a pharmacy so I picked up one of those gel packs you put in the freezer for use on my ankle later.

Cholet isn’t the most picturesque French town by any means. We parked up and set off on the anti-clockwise circuit. Once out of the town it stayed on main roads and all junctions/roundabouts had yellow arrows marked on the tarmac so map reading was not necessary. There were a few gradual climbs, one quite long and some fast descents. I reckon you could reach close to 60mph if you tried on one of them! We had decided to ride at a low heart rate to promote recovery and we covered the 18 miles in 1 hour 10 minutes, averaging just over 15mph. The winner of the real thing two days ago was Stefan Schumacher of Germany (no relation to Michael or Ralf!) in 35:44!

After this short ride we got changed and met up with Tom and Marion, family friends of Matt, Chris and Paula. They were staying in Saumure, about 35 miles away. On the way back to our base, the heavens opened again and when we got back the washing we had hung out earlier was soaked. Let’s hope it dries before tomorrow. We don’t want soggy shorts!

So far that’s 599km in 4 days. Tomorrow is our longest stage of the tour: 232 km, nearly 145 miles. Let’s pray for a tail wind! This will be our last flattish stage before the big mountains. We’ll keep you posted!

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