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 7: Brioude - Aurillac 159km 13/7/2008


After a night in a rubbish Logis de France (really wouldn’t recommend them – unless you are a fan of restaurants that close at 8:30pm and have no staff present between 10pm and 8am the next day). Anyway enough of my moaning.

We set off from Besse at about 8:50am for the 70km trek down to Brioude aiming to start at about 10:20am for what looked like a shortish stage which we could just knock off. Alas, this was not the case.

Right from the start, the road headed uphill and we had our first 3rd category climb of the day at 11km – this meant that we were slogging along at a very slow pace which was fairly depressing and Matt was certainly feeling very sluggish and mentally and physically fatigued after a hard day on Stage 6 and a late night.

After only 19km we missed a turning which was not signposted and headed off in the wrong direction – it was only when we descended sharply into the amusing named St Poncy (well I laughed) and climbed steeply out of the other side that we realised that we had gone wrong. A quick call to the support team and we were directed the best way back to the route – another wrong turning had Matt jumping up and down and swearing at the consistent failure of French roadsign makers – a distinct gap in the market for those of you with a signmaking bent!

Anyway, after struggling up more hills we met for lunch at the top of a hill somewhere outside St Flour and regrouped. The next part of the route took us on three sides of a square South of St Flour with a little climbing but nothing significant and we were able to get into more of a swing of things.

Matt started to perk up and was soon singing away and waving at cows again as seems to be a common theme during the daytime! I’m sure this is a sign of madness which has been enhanced through excessive exercise and too little sleep.

A short catch-up stop in the unpronounceable Valuejols and we knew we only had about 36km until we crested the second of two 2nd category climbs in short sucession. The support met us at the top of the Col d’Entremont (or Col d’Entrapment according to Ian) to hand out rain jackets as the temperature plummeted and the rain came down – France in the summer appears a little too much like Scotland for my liking – we had not booked weather like this!

Anyway after the descent into Le Peuch (another source of laughter for Matt), we had the 7.8km ascent of the Col du Pas de Peyrol to contend with. This started nice and gently and then with 1.75km to go a sign informed us that the average gradient to the ascent was 9.72% with a brutal hairpin in. As Ian and I crested the summit together it really felt like we had arrived on the Tour – the summit was shrouded in mist with a little hill top station for provision of sustenance to walkers et al. We grabbed rain jackets for the descent of 31km to Saint Simon which was to be our finishing point for the day (our detours of the previous day having added 13km and the detour on this stage having taken in an extra 3rd cat climb we were happy to stop 11km short if the town.

Total time: 6:34:01, 14.2mph average compared to L Sanchez (Esp) 3:52:53.


Anonymous said...

Singing and waving at cows??!! You are even crazier than I thought. Next you'll be telling us that they wave back....

Anonymous said...

Sounded like a nightmare start but you seem to be in a routine now. Here is DR piece. I have kept hard copy for you. Keep going mate, enjoying keeping up to date with your progress.