The Tour de Force

The Tour de Force

Monday, 29 June 2015

The Wall! Stage 3: Antwerp to Huy...Monday 29th June 2015

What it sez on the tin, really! Today's Hollywood moment of the 100-odd miles from Antwerp to Huy was climbing up the Mur de Huy, which translated from Belgique means 'The Wall Of Huy'...I cannot wait to see the pros beast themselves up it in a week's time!

Gerry Scarfe's work at large.

Today gave an insight into the tedious blah that the pros go through on Le Tour: we were up at 0530hrs (after a ropey kip) and onto a coach for 0630hrs to transfer to the start in Antwerp. Not ideal, but that's what happens. Sometimes it's fair to say that the bike riding is the easy bit, hah-hah!

"Men, we are here...Jerry is here...the bridges are here and here..."
Saving the best until last!
The more pleasing aspects of today were riding in a small bunch and sharing turns at the front (no really) and seeing some terrific countryside under regulation blue skies. Just a great day even if me and the two guys (take a bow George & Pete B.) that I was cycling for a chunk of the day did miss lunch due to not seeing an dramas though! This was a 'top ten' day at times...let's have some more!

Almost a Le Mans style start. Almost.
I've already forgotten where this was but it's a gem!
Another region...
Sensational riding at times...savour this, my son!
Andy had a ropey start to the stage: two punctures before the first need! He then proceeded to take his frustrations out on the roads and I stuck with the pace until we met some inclines and then gravity did the rest, hah-hah! I was happy to bludgeon on solo and caught up with Pete and George...we took turns and were so er, focused on the job in hand that we ignored signs directing us to the lunch stop. After 70 miles however the penny did drop and we stopped for a Coke and rang Tour Supremo Sarah: when I checked my phone I saw that Andy had left a couple of messages wondering where the eff I was at, was I ok. Didn't realised you cared mate, hah-hah! Nah, no-one needs that drama.

Sarah met us and gave us enough grub and water to allow us to press on to the final feed-stop where I waited for Le Tracteur to arrive (I had an abbreviated lunch, remember) before we set-off together for the final sector.

Following Le Tracteur down a descent and it's horses ahoy!
Always one big lump photobombing, hah-hah!
This is the worst bit of the last climb at 26%. Bad news for lardies...ouch!
Cheers Peter for this one. Bloody cafe was closed at the top. Still, their (considerable) loss...
What really was fun about this end to the stage was that Matt clapped me up the final yards and generally acted the goat: it always takes too long for folks to let their guards drop but this bloke was ahead of the game. At the summit there was a cafe but unfortunately it was ferme: the owner missed out on more than a few Euros...

We descended to the final horrible 26% corner to showboat for photos of each other- Matt very nearly overshot the corner which takes some doing...he had us crying and helpless, hah-hah! After a bit of a wait we then boarded the coach to that night's acco and a trip to the adjacent pizza place and a couple of ales...

Back on the Duvel: the hotel didn't have a bar per se, so improvisation was called for. A legit recovery drink in the background...but not quite as appealing!

A collector's item: me on a Strava Leaderboard from a stretch of today's route. Short term arrangement, natch!
Here's a reminder of why the sponsorship is important...this tour is organised on behalf of a charity called the William Wates Memorial Trust. No, I had never heard of them either until last year but what they do is give grants to projects in the UK that help kids who haven't had the best start in life or to charities that aim to develop and help young people see what they are capable of through the arts, sport and education. Big things, big achievements like the Duke of Edinburgh award!

Please click HERE to sponsor me...thank you!

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Click here to see today's tale of the tape!

Tomorrow is the longest mileage of Le Tour at 140 miles: the highlight (of sorts) is that the last 20 miles will be over cobbles, pretty much. The blog might take a while...where's that ice pack?

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!