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 6: Aigurande - Super Besse 195.5km 12/7/2008


Today was my (Matt’s) Dad’s birthday and as a present he had decided that he wanted to ride the stage with us. This was very welcome as it gave us someone else to ride with and share the load and it had been a long time since I had been able to spend his birthday with him.

We drove to just outside of Aigurande and Mum saw us on our way on forgivingly rolling roads. After yesterday’s very dull scenery, it was pleasant to head into more interesting countryside and more into the type of landscape which was typically French. Small villages of winding roads, stone-built houses and pretty little churches all surrounded by golden fields of crops, rolling hills and old French farmers wearing black berets, sporting grand moustaches and driving ancient tractors!

The cycling wasn’t half bad either and we met up with Mum for a top up of drinks after 2 hours almost exactly to schedule.

The terrain from here was a little lumpier and continued through lovely scenery with short sharp climbs from villages with names as diverse as Crocq, Giat and Verneugheol – not typical French names!

We stopped for lunch atop a hill in Fernoel witth views overlooking the distant Massif Central – our destination for the evening in the ski village of Besse (having first climbed to the ski station at Super Besse).

The ride became increasingly tough for Dad as the distance began to tell. We descended into La Bourboule for our third meet up of the day.

Our first 2nd Cat climb of the day followed which was a nice gradual ascent, providing us with a good level of comfort over our prospects for the coming days. Matt’s Mum provided support for us on the way up and with cool weather we all managed up OK. At a distance covered already of over 100 miles, this was the furthest Dad had done in a while.

The descent down was stunning with sweeping turns all the way into the valley. Due to poor route directions we got lost on the way to Super-Besse and this led to us being over an hour later than estimated into the ski station. We arrived at top of the very unpleasant climb to find that Mum was not there as she had got worried and left to go to the hotel in the hope of finding us there.

We were supposed to be meeting up with Team Kate but an accident on the road up to Besse on the motorway led to them being stranded and unable to reach us. Fortunately they were OK, although their van was not so well and they ended up spending the night in a grotty hotel in Brive apparently.

The Logis we stayed in was awful with lousy service – the standard of these things has really not endeared the network to us for future visits!

Time for the stage was 8:51:36 for 130.39 miles of travel (including getting lost) at an average of 14.717mph compared to the R Ricco (Ita) who took 4:57:52. He was later kicked out for doping.

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