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

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Stage 5: Cholet - Chateauroux 232km 11/7/2008


The longest stage of the tour today and we predicted 9 hours in the saddle for the 145 hours. We awoke at 6am to a miserable morning – rain and a little wind. The forecast was for a south westerly which would help us on the route which travelled almost due east.

After a good breakfast and saying our good byes to the Dugast’s for their generous hospitality we headed out to Cholet again in the car and parked in a LeClerc supermarket carpark. Setting off in pretty grim conditions we were surprised at the speed we were maintaining. In the first hour we covered 18.5 miles along a rolling main road with a tail wind. Swapping turns on the front, two-up time trial style, meant that the guy behind got soaked. This and the spray from the rain and the traffic made it quite difficult to see. We sped through Maulevrier, Argenton and Massais and met Chris and Paula well over half an hour up on schedule just past Richlieu. We maintained the 18.5mph average, deciding to get on with it as the road was busy and the scenery pretty uninspiring really. At least we were covering large distances in minimal time. By the time we met for lunch at Dange St Romaine, the weather had improved. A quick stopped for a pee led to me being bitten by a caterpillar on my neck. It seemed to be a day for it as later on a wasp flew into my cycling helmet and after me trying to persuade it to get out, I was stung on the ear. Along with this my tendon in my lower shin started to give me jipp again and Matt’s achiles tendon was aching so we made a right pair. This didn’t stop Matt slipstreaming an old gentleman on his moped which was pretty comical really. I couldn’t be bothered to sprint after him so just pootled on watching the old guy nearly skid his machine on a roundabout at about 15mph. Later we were speeding along at such a pace that we did a double overtaking manoeuvre of two tractors on an uphill stretch. Lunch was a nice picnic of bread, cheese, ham and tabouleh by the side of the road overlooking a sunflower field and set us up nicely for the remaining 104km.

By now the weather was really on the up and we enjoyed lovely descents between fields of hay bails, speeding through small deserted villages. Through Descartes, Abilly and Le Grand Pressigny we continued on to join the D925 which we powered along all the way to the finish for a good 50km, counting down the distance markers at the side of the road.

Overall, a pretty boring day scenerywise but we did cover 232km(145 miles) in 7 hours 45 minutes on the bike. This stage in Le Tour was won by our own Mark Cavendish considerably quicker in 5:27:52! I would say this was by far the easiest ride of this magnitude we have ever done.

That night was spent in a dated hotel in the middle of Argenten sur Creuse south of the finish in Cateauroux. Lugging bags up narrow spiral staircase set off my tendonitis quite badly and I was ordered to rest! Dinner was very tasty: Pigeon foix gras and roast duck, the restaurant having an interesting array of paintings of cows on the wall. Not sure who was in charge of the decorating!

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