The Tour de Force

The Tour de Force

Saturday, 9 May 2015

No one said it's gonna be easy...

WARNING: this post will contain trace amounts of fear disguised as whining and/or hand-wringing...those who are easily disgusted should shout "grow a pair ffs" and move right along!

Tour de France stages are designed to be difficult for the pro teams (never mind us amateur bluffers) because Le Tour sadists sorry, organisers usually want to avoid a procession from the start line until that day's finish line. In the case of the Pyrenean and Alpine stages it's obvious where the trouble is coming from (er, above) but in the case of the flatter stages you could be forgiven in thinking that there isn't much to worry about.

You take a 130 mile stage with maybe only 3000' of climbing and think to yourself 'Yeah, it's going to be a drag but nothing that we haven't done before...': that's a big mistake because the organisers have used their knowledge of the prevailing winds and road surfaces (cobbles and exposed sections) to make for what they consider an um, interesting stage, by which I mean one where headwinds and crosswinds will split the bunch up and introduce time gaps and basically make life bloody difficult.

Although there may be up to 80 of us cycling on any day, it's *highly* unlikely that we'll be in close formation!
And apart from "It's your round", the one phrase you don't want to hear as a cyclist is "oh good, a headwind for hours on end...". I'm looking at stages 2, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 particularly: it would be a big mistake to assume that we'll be able to 'phone these in'-  I expect these days to be horrible in all honesty, hah-hah!

The so-called flattish stages of the first week could well be awful thanks to the expected headwinds.
The 'Hollywood' stuff that is nailed-on horrible will happen later on in The Pyrenees and Alps during the second half of the tour. How is it possible to be simultaneously dreading and really looking forward to the same thing? Well, that's how I feel about mountain malarkey: the indescribable beauty of those views that no camera ever really does justice to (although you know that won't stop me clicking away), the utter quiet and clear, clean!

I looks rubbish doesn't it? Worth the swearing'n'sweating though.
"We're going up, we're going down, we're up-down-up-down anyway you want to go baby!"
And now the hard sell: I want to raise £3000 for the William Wates Memorial Trust so that they can continue to award grants to UK charities to help nurture and develop young people and keep them on the straight and narrow. Big things, big achievements like the Duke of Edinburgh award...that has to be worthwhile!
All that is left to do is to raise another £570 and it's job done! Please see if you can spare the price of a decent coffee or a pint: you know it makes sense...thank you.

I do have a bit of previous...

2014: 1000 miles solo & unsupported out to France, then La Bicinglette...6 x Mont Ventoux in a day!

2013: 1000 miles solo & unsupported out to Austria, then the worst climbs in The Dolomites!

2012: The inaugural Haute Route sportive from Geneva to Nice, followed by the worst Pyrenean climbs!

2011: 3500 miles across North America...coast to coast!

2010: 1600 miles from Gibraltar to Blackpool!

2009: 1000 miles from Land's End to John O'Groats!

2008: 250 miles from Blackpool to London!

2007: 100 miles around Manchester!

2006: 0.5 mile to corner shop!