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Day 04 Le Touquet - Lilles. Bonjour La France!

Vive La France! 

Day 04 Tues 01/07/14  Le Touquet - Lilles  164km

Distance km 168 Elevation m 1339 
Ave speed km/hr  26.2 Max Speed km/hr 58.8 
Moving Time  6:25 Total Time  7:30
Ave Heart Rate 132  Max Heart Rate  165
Ave Cadence 74     
Calories burned  2900 Temp Range  17-22

France is wonderful.

My legs felt a bit stiff this morning but soon loosened up. Clear blue skies and lovely and warm, we started by the beach at Le Touquet. Immediately cars gave way at roundabouts, people cheered as we passed and the roads were just sooooooo smooth! It really feels like we are on holiday! 

The pace was pretty fast and the first 90km went incredibly quickly. We even had an intro to Le Pave (cobbles) which was horrendous.... Up and down some seriously bumpy cobbles, wrenching the arms, incredible. Arm pump galore. Oh.... and we have 15 km of that tomorrow.... oh dear. 2 guys have even rented special "Pave" bikes!

Today was all about peleton riding though, rotating around and doing a few minutes at the front and then sheltering from others and saving energy. We were riding 2 abreast and chatting away. Great fun. And fast. At one point we were steaming along and missed an arrow to turn though.... ooops. Absolute nightmare if you do this cos you have no idea and just keep going until you see no more, and have to turn around. But thankfully some people in the peleton noticed and shouted so we turned round immediately. I also learnt about how to push someone along when their chain comes off so it can be put back on as you ride. I learnt this 5 minutes earlier when it happened to me and Goose pushed me along. Felt good helping the next one out.... as if I had "the knowledge" !

Today felt a bit like a transition stage really, as it was mainly "flat"....well if you call 1,300m flat, with 2 category 4 climbs!!

The "Lifers" (those doing the whole of the Tour distance) were alone today and we met the 2nd/3rd group (Tour Taster 2 and 3) in the evening. They will ride the next 2 and 6 stages with us.

Arrived at the hotel and did some washing! So I now have a full set of clean riding gear which we hung up outside to great amusement from the locals! OK, so you had to be there.  Bed time now..... nearly 11pm... up at 5:30 again tomorrow!

It's going well, its tough. No 160km (100 miles) day is "easy" but this day wasn't as "hard" as some!!  Over 700km done now. And both Andy and I are now fully recovered and both feeling fit at last!

Day 03 Cambridge - London. No hills!

Follow Me, It's Easy  -  ha ha ha

The above expression is not applicable in cycling !!! 

  

Buckingham palace! Tourists hey !!

Day 03 Mon 30/06/14   Cambridge - London 159km

Distance km 147 Elevation m 976 
Ave speed km/hr  26.0 Max Speed km/hr 51.9 
Moving Time  5:39 Total Time 7:20 
Ave Heart Rate  121 Max Heart Rate  151
Ave Cadence  71    
Calories burned 2206  Temp Range 16-24 

Brief Description

Up at 5am after only 5 hrs kip... stayed up too late blogging... so from now on it's going to get shorter and less often!
Breaky (last fried breaky) at 5:30
Bus at 6 am
Traffic jam on motorway..... Again! So we were late to Cambridge.
Set off around 10 am
Today was my turn to feel ill. I felt awful with a headache but managed to keep up with a reasonable sized peleton but it was going a bit fast for me really. (I was following, and it wasn't easy!)  Lunch at 80km so I had a long lunch and a good rest, some ibrufen and teamed up with 2 guys to ride a bit more steadily into London.
The ride was beautiful ..... very flat, we only did about 950m ascent today! Not quite sure why we only did 147km yet officially it was supposed to be 159km....praps we took a simpler route through London.....  

Anyway, it was sunny...! First day without arm or leg warmers on. But what everyone noticed was the fact that there wasn't really any decorations. Only saw 2 or 3 yellow bikes (compared with literally 1000's in Yorkshire).... but.... I did see my first REAL Essex girl! Brilliant, we had quite a laugh...stilletoes, fluffy white dog, white teeth, latherings of make-up, fake tan, and a very "bouncy false" walk !!! Created a few laughs in the peleton as we passed her.
Riding through London was an experience. Been there, done that. Never again.
Did a lap of The Mall and Buckingham Palace. The Queen wasn't there to welcome us, but we did get a photo....maybe later.
Got in to our end point around 6 pm just before the rain.
Bangers and mash and a PINT of GUINESS!!!!! Fantastic. Met Giff in the pub for a natter.... so that's it now for the fan club I'm afraid!!
We then went to a local sports centre, showered and got on the bus to France at 8 pm...after saying goodbye to the guys who were going home after their 3 days. We will meet more people tomorrow in France.


Overall a good day, but to be honest.... I don't like flat days, bit boring really.
Tomorrow is also a nice easy day, and then it's Le Pave (cobbles!)

We went through the tunnel, and arrived in Le Touquet at 2am local time.... France have clearly won at football tonight, and we were greeted by many, many vocal and happy French supporters! Awesome, what a reception!!!

.........and now bed

Thanks for all the donations over the past few days, fantastic stuff guys. Really appreciate it.

PS, food is so good I haven't had a single gel or energy bar yet. Fantastic. And that was while in England! Bring on France!

Day 02 York - Sheffield. It felt like cycling home......

Beautiful Yorkshire.....  

For those of you who don't know, I lived in Sheffield (well just outside) from age 11 till 18.  It was never this tough as a lad !!! Jenkin Road (30% in 1 place was a hill the Tour de France organisers threw in right at the end of the stage.... for a laugh. Thanks.)

Day 02 Sun 29/06/14   York - Sheffield 201km (officially)

Day 2 route

Distance km 208 Elevation m 3708
Ave speed km/hr 22.6 Max Speed km/hr 70.0
Moving Time 09:13 Total Time 11:30
Ave Heart Rate 133 Max Heart Rate 167
Ave Cadence 75    
Calories burned 4511 Temp Range 9-25

Brief Description

Up at 5:15. Breaky at 6am (it seemed rude not to have another dose of sausage, bacon, eggs, mushrooms, hash browns...etc etc)

Then we had to get on a bus to York. Great bus..... if you are a dwarf, or a child under 10. However, try and fit 80 grown people, mostly blokes, and many in their sweaty riding kit from yesterday, with their 2 day bags, helmets and water bottles, and you have really quite an interesting scenario! The pros don't have to suffer this! Nor do they have to stop at traffic lights or encounter traffic! Grrrr. I don't know, they get it easy!

So we left a rainy York, but within 30 mins it was dry. Glorious.

It didn't rain. The weather was perfect (sunny at times, relatively cool most of the day).

 So as is the norm (its a must) we rode the first 40km to the first feed stop all together. We then set off to the next feed stop (another 40km). At this point I decided I simply couldn't ride as slowly as my mate, as it was causing me too much pain. When you go slowly you don't push as hard on the pedals so you have more weight on the seat, plus you stop concentrating. There were others riding slower and plenty of folk to ride with. This doesn't mean I went speeding off... oh no, I am still slow and steady (!) but it was a fair bit quicker, and I felt a lot more comfortable. Once he's better we'll ride together again, and it will probably be him dragging me along.

Today was beautiful (if not rather unnecessarily hilly!). We even rode some "pave" (cobbles to the uninitiated) through some village, somewhere in Yorkshire!). Brilliant.

 I knew my mate Fish was going to visit me "en route" and we assort of arranged where we'd meet. It was great, he kept overtaking me and taking photos encouraging, cheering! Fantastic. He even ran with me in typical TdF crazy supporter fashion up Holme Moss....so I felt like a hero! Good man. He even brought his dog, so I treated him to a few Bourbon biscuits at the feed stop....and some shortbread, and some crisps. Ooops, don't tell the organisers.... Great dog.

And me 'ol mate Mowey met me at the end... he waited several hours, and was very patient and understanding.....admitting that he has cycled 20 miles, but is was mainly downhill !!   Apologies to Peter L who also said he would be there, but I never saw you if you were.....

 I finally got in around 7pm after another 9 hrs of cycling and 11.5 in total (stopping in traffic, eating (a lot), hugging Fish, feeding his dog etc etc!)..... we had a BBQ, which was brilliant, and chocolate brownie ice cream..... This was from 8pm and the briefing started at 9pm (although not everyone arrived). No Moustache (for the biggest error), Flat cap (for being a good man - normally called Chapeau, but we're in Yorkshire) prizes tonight, cos it was such a late day. That will be on the bus to Cambridge tomorrow.

So its up at 5again, breaky 5:30, bus at 6am..... 3 hrs to Cambridge and start riding at 9:30am. A mere 160km and FLAT. Hoorah. Feels like a rest day!! Ha ha, how can 100 miles seem like a rest? Whats happened to me.

Buckingham palace beckons...I wonder if the Queen will be cheering us on? (Will her Corgies want bourbon biscuits?)

Well its nearly 11pm... so..........BED TIME

Night night.  

(PS hopefully, Fish's photos might arrive here at some point..... Scuse the non matching shirt and shorts..... but the white ones were put on at half way to give a little added padding! If you'd just ridden 400km in 2 days, you'd understand !!)

PPS Message to my main man Youcef. "Second skin" might just have saved my life! Thanks bud. That and lowering the seat slightly. Prologo not yet fitted, hopefully wont need to. thanks :-)

 

Day 01 Leeds - Harrogate. My TdF has started !!!

Aye - Up Yorkshire !! 

It's Started !!!!!!

So, Finally after over 8 months of gruelling training......... involving many curries, plenty of pies, and probably far too much beer....... (and there's no hiding it.... one HECK of a lot of cycling!!!) .....  

I have started my Tour de Force!   

23 days of either heaven or hell? I'm hoping for good weather, strong legs, outstanding views and a plentiful supply of French food/beer. But first I need to overcome the Yorkshire Dales, some Yorkshire Puds, and ....Yorkshire Beer. So far, so heaven!

So on Friday set off up the M1 and it took 7 hrs to do a 3 hour journey. PLus we got lost driving around the centre of Leeds on its crazy one way system.... so were a bit late. Ooops

At the hotel we had an intro and briefing, fantastic chicken and pasta meal.....and bed by 10pm. I had slept Tueday night on a train, Weds night on a plane, and finally Thursday night in my own bed (but was too excited to sleep)...... so I slept very well on Friday.

5am awake, full English breakfast at 6am (couldn't resist!), muesli, croissants, the lot! Glorious. Another briefing during breaky and on the bikes at 7:30 am for the start.....It was raining, and it was very cold. So full arm warmers, long legs, waterproof top etc.

Day 01   Sat 28/06/14     Leeds - Harrogate  191km (officially!)

Distance km  207 Elevation m  2,778
Ave speed km/hr  22.9 Max Speed km/hr  60.8
Moving Time  9:01 Total Time  11:37
Ave Heart Rate  132 Max Heart Rate  177
Ave Cadence  72    
Calories burned 4268 Temp Range  8-13

Description

Oh my goodness...... How am I going to manage to do this for 22 more days!!!

This stage was supposed to be 191km but what they omitted to tell us is that there was a 15km neutralised section from the start going out of Leeds.... so we also had to ride this..... Hence the 207km total today (no we didn't get lost!)

So what was supposed to be a relatively easy (easy? 200km???) turned into a bit of a marathon as my mate was...errrr.... rather sikly. Suffering from what we now think was long 24 hr bug he was "empty" as everything he'd eaten had passed right through, so no energy, very weak. Not ideal condition to start a 200km ride. So we really rode steadily..... very slowly, and made it in the end. Riding slowly means more pressure on the seat of your pants though, so sore bum. As you can see from the table (which I will print every day so you can see what I've done) we were riding for 9 hrs but on the go for 11.5 hrs (this includes eating, stopping at traffic lights etc.... ie moving and stopped time)

Peleton? What Peleton. There wasn't much peleton riding, most people were off on their own or in small 3 or 4 groups.... strange. We were on our own most of the way as we were quite slow. Some good ascents though... Buttertubs was lovely. I tended to ride up these and wait at the top, so actually I felt quite fresh at the end, albeit with a rather sore bum. Gel seat was used for first 40km, and from 120-160km.

We are forced to stop every 40km where there is a feed stop and one of our two day bags so we can take out gloves or different waterproofs etc. More on that later..... in another blog.

It was cold, VERY cold. And wet. But Ok, nothing too bad. Rain was light drizzle so didn't get soaked.

Yorkshire has gone mad by the way. Yellow bikes everywhere, painted and put to the side of the road. Signs everywhere. Cycles carved in to the grass with lawnmowers, one guy making a HUGE stone carving..... flags everywhere, and even one wall covered in little knitted yellow, green, white, polka dot jerseys..... awesome. Well done Yorkshire, you made us very welcome! Oh, and thanks to the council for spending 6 million on resurfacing the roads!!

And finally. I didn't post this last night, too tired and not enough time. Its going to be a struggle to do it every day, just too much to do and not enough time..... Finishing at 7pm, briefing, dinner, wash yourself, wash you clothes (v important to rinse shorts out etc), check over the bike, prepare kit for tomorrow, oh... and bed... cos we're up at 5 or 5:30 most mornings. I am afraid Blog is low priority compared to everything else. Sorry.

More tomorrow. 

Great start to the ride.

 

 

 

 

Hey-Ho, Hey-Ho, It's off to Leeds We Go !!!!

Hey-Ho, Hey-Ho, It's off to Leeds We Go !!!!

Off to Leeds we Go !!!   TDF

Bit of a dull picture....... but this is it. Van's packed, bag's packed.  It's pouring with rain......

TdF 2014 here we come.  Le Grand Depart (one week early) awaits.

Thanks to everyone who's sponsored me and helped me through the training. Track us at http://www.tourdeforce.org.uk/ and click on "Track Us LIVE" !! (cunning hey!) 

 

ONE WEEK TO GO ....... !!!!

For Sale........... and only 1 week to go!

For Sale!Ready to go

                       For Sale                                                     Ready to go...............

For Sale: 25 years old, completely worn out, noisy, zip ties and blue tape holding right pedal together, seat foam eaten by insects, seat height non-adjustable, siezed. Weighs a ton. Currently located in Siberia. Buyer collects !!!  Any offers?  

I promise you. I am never EVER going to sit on this thing again. My big rest is going very well incidentally.

Thankyou for all your support over the past few months..... keeping me motivated during all the hours on this **** machine. 

Total raised for charity to date: £6,500    

This year 2014: Km ridden:5,000  Hours ridden:250  Height climbed:45,000m  Calories burned:120,000   (plus about 1,600km and 80 hours going nowhere on the Silly Siberian Static Cycle)

Next stop Leeds I guess?    Km to ride:3,650  Hours:200?  To climb:40,000m?  Calories:170,000?   

Suddenly what has felt like a lot of training looks quite mediocre...??? But hey...... the Shell kit is looking good right? This is me, with the bike I'm riding...... ready to go........

(PS, if you haven't got it by now..... as far as training goes, I've hung my boots up!)   

Friends are........

.... the most wonderful thing.

I woke up early this morning, only to watch England lose at football.  

But after my email and facebook post yesterday I also woke up to see that over £1,000 had been added to the total from you....... my friends. Total now is £5,500. Update: 19th June.....£6,500  Amazing. I am so very, very lucky to have friends such as you. Thankyou. Your contributions mean a lot to me, and to others.

I absolutely promise I will push myself to the limit to achieve this little ride. I will be thinking of you, with a print of all your comments in my back pocket....... keeping me going. Heart felt thanks, dear friends.

Another update: Special thanks to Good Man Tim and his mate Dylan, who off their own backs organised (and then re-organised - yes red tape the world over it seems)  an outdoor spin-a-thon in Mauritius!! This raised £300 for the WWMT. Glorious. Thanks guys

Charity Web Page Update: Not wanting to forget what the real reason behind this ride is, I attach a link to Tour de Forces website, which has just been updated with some news from riders who have visited some of the charities the WWMT supports. You can read their short stories (only takes 2 mins) and hear REAL stories about the children YOU have helped. I think you will be inspired, and happy to see where your money has gone.

http://www.tourdeforce.org.uk/riders-get-face-time-with-charities/

The Big Rest..... 18 days to go !

tdforce      full of energy.....longtime ago!      tdfrancelogo          

They say before a race you should rest.  zzzzzzzzzzzzz

Well this is a BIG RIDE, so I'm planning a BIG REST !    (2.5 weeks to be exact)

I am currently back in Russia, in amongst the bears and mosquitos. My bike is back home, with a new chain, sprockets (ooops, sorry they are called cassettes and chain rings apparently in the cycling world!), brake pads, tyres and all oiled up and ready to go. I've even packed my bag (sort of) ready to go because I get home on Thursday and go straight up to Leeds on Friday for LE GRAND DEPART on Saturday at 7am!

So yes, I've done all my training and packed all my bags. I will do a few easy 1 hour spin sessions in the gym 3 or 4 times a week just to keep the legs supple, but I see no point in doing much else. I felt really tired at the end of last months riding so I think "Rest is the Best" !! 

I haven't shaved my legs, and I haven't bought white shoes......But I have nearly raised double the target. Currently at £4,350 so feeling pretty happy with that.

If you want to try to help me hit that magical £5,000  and really push me up the French Cols......here's the link.....

 www.bmycharity.com/iangreasbytourdeforce    

thankyou, thankyou, thankyou

Don't Forget: I hope to update this page almost EVERY DAY during the ride. So please have a look. I will fill a small table in with details of distance, height climbed, ave speed, time taken, heart rate and cadence - for all you bike boffins, and a couple of sentances describing my experiences; the views, the scenery, the food (and beer?)........ and the pain - for all the real world normal people out there!

View User Profile for Ian

Some numbers......

Well, what can I say...... this has been my only real warm weather riding since signing up for TdF in October last year. It's been wonderful.

I arrived back in the UK on Thursday afternoon, 15th May.  Here's what I have done in the 2.5 weeks at home.  (I'm pretty tired, if you're asking!). And I know my cadence is a bit low, but I have discovered that as cadence goes up so does "rear-end pain"!

May riding stats

So in 19 days that's 2,000km and 20,000m .....thats about half the Tour de Force.... GULP!

According to Mr Garmin, since I started this training seriously this year I've completed: 5,000km, 45,000 metres ascent in 240 hrs. Oh, and I've burned 115,000 Calories...... how cool is that ?  And...... I reckon I've done about an extra 1,600km on the Static Siberian Suffering Cycle........ oh how I will miss it after this has finished! NOT!!!!!

But......  what have I learnt?

1) I can ride 100km every day without any issues....forever. Really, I can. Hills are no problem, in fact I prefer them cos it gets you out of the seat and out of that **** saddle (see below for "too much detail" .... detail).

2)  150km isn't too bad but the backside feels it. 200km (or near) however is a different matter. The legs really tire the next day, and the bum (I know I mention it a lot, but trust me.... its a key part to long distance riding!) suffers. I have tried 3 different saddles. I have bought new bib shorts, 3 different brands! I have tried 2 pairs of shorts (on top of each other), I have invested heavily in chamois creme, sudocreme and savlon. I have even borrowed and then bought my own gel seat cover (which I intend to use for the first 50km's of every day). 160+ km's per day is serious when its day in day out....... oh yes! Don't believe me? Try it! Things change after 5 or 6 days......!!

3) Eating is definitely not cheating! The days of late rugby nights in the bar and calling out "Eating is cheating" when you snuck off for a crafty packet of crisps to try to absorb the alcohol....they are gone. Loooong gone! EAT EAT EAT..... RepEAT !!! 5-6,000 calories per day we'll be burning. Unfortnately I think late nights in the bar are also coming to an end. 1 or 2 to be polite, but that will have to do! Worrying, very worrying.

4) A days rest doesn't half make a difference! Oh why oh why oh why is the Time Trial this year on the penultimate day?! If only there were a nice short day on say day 6 or day 7.......... ho hum! The first 10 days are going to be tough. That days rest on day 11 is going to be heaven if we make it there. And the next just 5 days later! Glorious. It really is incredible what a day off can do. How these pro type blokes do this RACING day in day out I will never know. Respect is rising. Unfortunately my speed is definitely moving in an inversely proportional manner!!

5) I am not alone . I have read a few other blogs from the TdF group. Seems like we're all getting a bit nervous and wondering what we have committed to.  Hmmmmmm. There are ups, there are downs....... both emotionally and physically (more ups than downs in France I hear!) but as I was told right at the start of this Undertaking "Goodness gracious me Greasby, this isn't a sponsored dog walk you're doing, is it?". And by goodness...... "Goodness Gracious" are definitely not the right words used!!

If you're reading this and want to sponsor me...... here's the link.... this is what it's all for. Helping underprivalaged kids find a decent direction in life. http://www.bmycharity.com/iangreasbytourdeforce

Thank you !!! 

 

 

The Tour.........of Wessex

Sold as "The Toughest 3 day Sportive in Britain".

Well, in all honesty, it wasn't that bad. And more importantly, it was REALLY GOOD FUN!

Route Map. Tour of Wessex 2014

The Route Map (note: Day 3 height scale is not the same as Day 1&2)

Saturday-Monday 25-27 May 2014. Based in Somerset and stretching into Dorset and Devon. 3 days, 350 miles. Lots of hills.

3 days, each approx 180km (112 miles, 116 and 116 miles for those of still measuring distances in feet, furlongs and miles and height in hands, inches and whatever else they used in the stoneage......). First 2 days 2,000m ascent and 3rd day 3,000metres (9,000 feet.....grrrr!!!)

Day 1 it rained. All day. Yes, ALL DAY. Our litle group of 7 riders (all riding separately due to differing abilities, and state of leg shaving) all invested heavily in new brake pads after rain, road grime and downhill nerves got the better of us. Still, it taught us all that 6.5 hrs in rain can be endured on a ride, if the views are good enough. Cheddar Gorge the highlight. Well that and Tracys home made chicken and ham pie, washed down with plenty of beer and wine in the evening! 173km, 2,000m, 6hrs 20mins moving. Ave speed 27.1 km/hr

Day 2 it didn't rain. This was definitely the highlight! Down to the South Coast near Ringwood. A stop over for Dave at his Mums for lunch (didnt invite us but we wont hold it against him). A fine day, and some glorious Dorset countryside. Wearing my new TdF kit I met a chap who knew someone doing Tour de Force, and we chatted for a while. I did a fair amount of peleton riding today with various groups. It's a noisy caper! I will never understand why EVERYONE seems to like to call out "Car up, Car back, Clear" etc. Ha ha. I put a huge sprint on for the last 8km, pulling away from a peleton which had dragged me along for 20km. It felt good, my own little bit of personal Glory......sort of. Showed i had a bit in reserve though. Chuffed with that, Beer and Ian L's chilli in the evening....... (with added BBQ zest ). Glorious mate, thankyou, and just what we needed. 191km, 1,900m, 7 hrs moving, Ave speed 27.2 km/h.

Day 3 it nearly rained all day, but in the end didn't rain at all. Result! This would have been the highlight had it not been for the incredible number of Alpine hairpins just after the lunch stop somewhere near Minehead. Great TdF training. 3,000m ascent. Felt good, no major problems and 2 pairs of riding shorts is definitely the way to go to avoid "sore saddle syndrome" . 185km, 2,700m, 7hrs 28 mins moving, Ave speed 24.8 km/hr. A tough day, but fun.

I rode every day just like the TdF will be....stopping at each feed stop for a short 5 or 10 min stop. Eating Scotch eggs, mini pasties, chicken masala sandwiches (yes REALLY!) and various jaffa cakes, chocolate crunchie thingies and of course every cyclists staple fruit..... bananas! Credit to the organisers, it was brilliant. Top tip to any budding Sufferlandrian....have a go at this event next year. Well organised, awesome routes, perfectly signed, great food....and apart from one grumpy parking attendant (only doing his job tho!)......a really happy bunch!!! And I got a medal  Life's good.

 

 

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