Today (24th June 2017) our Managing Director Chris Glazier has commenced his challenge to ride the entire route of the 2017 Tour De France exactly one week ahead of the professional cyclists for charity.
Message from Chris
” I will be absent for the next three weeks completing a charity cycle challenge, several of you have asked for information about the event and the charity so below gives some background.
The charity is the William Wates Memorial Trust www.wwmt.org.uk This charity supports youth projects specifically designed to try and keep youngsters away from trouble with the police in deprived areas. The Trust runs this one event each year as its fundraising activity, there will be 40 riders completing the whole route and up to 70/80 extra at various times who join for shorter periods between a few days and half the route. I will be completing the whole route.
More detail about the actual event is at www.tourdeforce.org.uk if you go on this page there is a green button on the right side titled ‘Live Tracking’ if you click on that it will show you the day’s route and hopefully … providing technology works! lots of dots of which one will be me at that time! If I’m off route I’m lost or grabbing a sneaky break! If not there at all it’s likely the phone has died!
Anyway, I hope to survive the 2,100 miles over 21 days and be back to work on the 18th July
My charity page is www.virginmoneygiving.com/chrisglazier Please don’t feel obliged to donate as there are so many charities these days but very grateful if any of you feel able to.
If interested you can follow my daily blog below.”
Rest Day 2
TdF rest day 2 musings. No 7 hr coach trip so a proper rest day, kit washed, bike cleaned and tyre changed, removed 4 of the 6 gas cylinders I’ve been carrying around France!!!.. Duhhhh!! Massage to try and get rid of that lactate and knots! Two salads consumed ….. and chilled out!
15 of 21 rides completed, 1,690 miles ridden, 122,847 ft climbed, 60,000 calories burned,
Biggest climbing day to come and longest ride yet to do….. looking forward to Paris
TdF stage 15, The Massif Central had everything, scenery, weather, climbs descents and best of all a rest day to follow… everyone is very tired.
Our day started early as yet another coach transfer, 6:30 depart with luggage on the van and breakfast done by 6:15 …. you get to hate transfers as they make the days sooooo much longer.
35 minutes down the road and we were delivered to the start, quick check of the bike and we were off, first 20 km were pan flat and good to get the legs spinning again… ready for the first Cat 1 of the day 10k up at 7/8%, weather at this time was perfect, no wind and cool, the fly in the ointment was the local authority had top dressed (patched) the road with fine gravel… argh!!😡. However, after the feedstop at the top we were on brand new smooth tarmac for the next 10k …. think random narrow lane in the middle of no where totally relaid … why? …. yep all for a certain race chasing us. 😀😀
By this time we were on the high ground, think Dartmoor and you have the picture. Think Dartmoor weather, freezing cold and peeing down, and that’s what we now had. The next feedstop was 50km on so by the time we got there all were frozen and soaked, to the extent that several riders got lifted to the vans as they were border line hyperthermic.
At this feedstop I hooked up with James Thompson and we road the rest of the day together, the next feedstop was lunch and we piled on the poor weather clothing, only for the sun to reappear and all the clothing to get stuffed into bulging pockets! We had a stunning descent down to a valley of about 8k …. before, yep the next Cat1 climb of the day… 8k at 7/8% but with a really nasty km and a half at 14%…. think walking is quicker and that is the pace we are down to on lactate filled tired legs. Again this whole climb in the middle of no where for some reason has beautiful new tarmac on it!
With the feedstop at the top spirits were high as we only had 30k to go, which on the profile were mainly all downhill…. that is with a couple of serious kickers in to break the peloton up when it comes through … and trust me they will!
Arriving at Le-Puy- Valley at 6:30pm it had been another very tough 118 miles with every type of weather but the much need rest day to follow…. and two nights in the same hotel – luxury. This stage was very scenic and well worth a visit.
TdF stage 14, Transit day from Toulouse to Rodez. An unremarkable route that’s flat for the first half and runs along those tree lined roads that everyone recognises…… for miles! After the midway point it’s lots of ups and downs much like riding in Cornwall.. it wears you down, especially when the legs are tired from previous exertions!! It’s been probably the most uninspiring route to date … so no padding this one out, even struggled on the photos today 😟 Tomorrow looks fairly hard ….. but sooo looking forward to our rest day after….. knackered!!
TdF stage 13, bye bye Pyrenees the next time I see you it’s one climb a day, loads of cafes and loads of ice cream! This was/is the shortest stage in Tour history, that’s great but we had two coach transfers to suffer, both an hour and a half long at either end of the ride!. Today was all about survival in the heat and saving the legs after yesterday’s monster, so it was a soft pedal up the valley for 25k before the first climb, the Col de Latrape, literally soft pedalled up this keeping the Heart rate down – Level 2 sort of pace. I knew what was coming later! Although a Cat 1 climb it was an easy climb ( all becoming relative!). After a short break it was a quick descent to the valley floor – 35C now and the climb of the Col d’Agnes…. very hot, pesky horse flies, spectacular views, 10km at 10%, and two stops in the mountain stream to throw cold water over myself …. it works!! Over the top and 3k down to a stunning lunch location at the side of a lake – treated to an ice cream before finishing the stunning descent to the valley floor and the final climb of the day, the Mur de Perguere. This climb we did in 2012 in the mist and it was really spooky through the woods, this time it was in blazing sun and the sting is the top 2/3 Km at a steady 15/18%…. Lot’s of riders were walking or stopped regaling their breath …. didn’t get off in 2012 and not this time either 👍😉 Feed station at the top and we had a quick come before heading down to Foix where the finish is. Now this is the highlight of the day – technical, sweeping descent that is so fast and bumpy but is literally 27km long, watch the mad chase that will take place down here next week when the pros do it. We are now in Toulouse ready for tomorrow’s transit to Rodez.
TdF Stage 12, mega day in the Pyrenees, 135 miles and 15,000 ft of climbing. Going to be a big day when the pro’s tackle it! For us the weather was kinder than yesterday with the roll out from Pau in cool temperatures with mist, there was a 100k trek down to the start of our climbing today, fairly innocuous terrain until our second feed stop… which is when the day kicked off proper. First climb was the col des Ares, it’s a gentle climb on good surface…. easy and with a really nice decent the other side. Almost at the bottom we take a right up along a river gorge…. lots of ups and downs to sap the legs before the Col de Mente, this is a steep climb and we had full sun on us all the way up, lots of switchbacks and also a fair few houses, it was hard! The top of the climb was our third stop and lunch. After lunch … 10-15 minutes, it was the incredibly fast sweeping descent back down to the valley and a 10k slog to the base of the Port deBales … a HC climb of 18km. I’d ridden this twice before so knew what to expect, what adds to this is as we get to the start of the climb we have just clicked up the 100 miles for the day…. and now we are about to do anHC climb of 18km!!!….. This is a beautiful climb…. until you leave the fast river… then it just goes on and on at gradients of around 8-12% with no respite. I stArted the climb at a good pace but the final 3km nearly killed me, I only just managed to turn the pedals, which no doubt was amusing to the strategically parked campers awaiting the race behind us! At the top of the climb was our last feedstop…. three cups of coffee, can of coke, bag of crisps, two twix bars and I was ready for the descent. This is a ridiculously fast descent that takes a good twenty minutes to get down, big drop offs and no barriers. The next climb is the Peyresourde…. another 10k climb but on a main road and open, still steep averaging 8% but some spectacular views, it was getting late by the time we were at the top …. 8:30. Now the real plan is they then send us down the brand new tarmacked other side for 3k before veering off to climb the Peyregudes, only another 3.5Km but with a couple sections at plus 10%….. this is the climb Chris Frome got called back on in 2012.
So, today was mega long and we were in the first 25% back, just as the sun was setting, several riders got pulled off as it was clear they would not finish…. we are now up to 115 riders for the next three days, it’s busy and I don’t think some really understood the severity of the day.
We also had one faller coming off the Port de Bales who punctured his abdomen and has headed off to hospital for some stitches. Tomorrow we only have a 100km to ride…. will feel odd but I suppose with three Cat 1 climbs squeezed in it will still be a challenge. Just over half way now and have covered 1,385 miles…. the backside is still bruised and the knees after today feel as if they are popping out of my eyes!!!! That said it’s been awesome to date but hard beyond explanation.
TdF stage 11, another 125 miles in and a flat stage basically moving us down to Pau in readiness for the mountains. As you can see we had an early morning transfer to the start and were cycling by 0730…. at least this gave us a bit more riding time before the heat built up, and did it build up!!!!
The actual route today was pretty boring, cycling on main roads which seem to be dead straight for miles and miles, we also have to contend with all the lorries … clearly not a problem for the pros. Yet again we had a headwind all day, not massive but enough to be painful, and mix that with the temperature … 35C all afternoon, and you can see where the problems come! Indeed The last 40k were just wearing and heat exhaustion was a real threat, got to the finish with no fluids left…. I finished pretty much at the front so managed a cold shower – really! to cool down before getting the legs massaged ready for the mountains tomorrow.
Bonus today was being back in time to shower, massage…. and then watch the finish on Planche de Belles…. great finish and even the pros come over the last section just before the finish line pretty slow.
Anyway a short spell tonight as need to try and recover before tomorrow’s onslaught!!!
TdF Stage 10, post rest day and the sun has come out, the Peloton has been swelled by some new members staying for various numbers of days. This stage is fast and flat, a sprinters dream…. a large part of the route runs alongside the Dordogne river. For us it was a short stage as under 200km!!! Bliss and we also get to stay in a proper hotel … as you can see!! Very uneventful day on the bike but really hot to ride at pace in – 33C… and a first for us on a transit stage as no real wind to speak of! One interesting thing we’ve noticed on our routes is the amount of manicuring of verges, weeding of gutters – literally! The number of crappy old bikes sprayed and turned into art, the amount of bunting, the window dressing…. oh and don’t forget the amazing amount of new tarmac we are riding on…. and all because some bike race is following us!…!just reading my post back and realised that a little ride of 118 miles has now become ‘uneventful’….. tomorrow is a transit day as we head South to Pau… where my fresh legged domestique James Thompson joins and then we’re into the Pyrenees and tha pain game again!
Rest day musings! Coach trip 7 hours, washing kit and finding launderette 2hrs, shaving legs and adding go faster stripes 20 mins, dinner briefing …. oh and rider of the day award (others must have noticed my ‘grumpy’ day too!😮) 2hrs, bike clean and check 30 mins, feet up resting – nil !!!!!!!!!! ……. the pros have no idea what they are missing!!
Stage 9 - Nantua to Chambery 181km
So, sat on a 6 hr coach trip traversing to the West side of France for week 2…. Launderette for washing kit later…. that’s how we roll on a rest day!…. oh and bike to clean and check as well 😉
Yesterday, what a route, 100 miles plus, one Cat 2, two Cat 3, one Cat 4, and three of the six HC climbs on this year’s Tour all in the one day! Having had a crap day previously where the tank was empty, in retrospect had left it all on the roads the day before! this Queen stage was not approached with any relish …. fearful probably a good description. We started with an hours coach trip to a very quiet misty and drizzle covered Nantua, and what’s the first thing we do? Yep 100 mtrs and straight into a 16km Cat 2&3 climb! The one thing that made it easier as always over here was the quality road surface, and in truth took it really easy knowing the day that lay ahead. At our first stop towards the bottom of the descent the other side, we were given options of short cuts that missed some of the climbs out ….. clearly I was not going to be partaking in any of those although about 10 of our number chose an easy day! After our stop we hit main roads – albeit quiet until we took a left turn into an almost farm type road – the bottom of the first HC of the day, the Col de la Biche, well, you don’t see anything until you turn and it’s a totally inauspicious looking road, but it immediately ramps up at about 15% for a good 400 mtrs….. argh!!! So, all the winter gear gets squeezed into bulging back pockets, sun was coming out now, and grind away for the next 12km varying from 8% with the middle section running at 15% and all on rough road surface!…. That softened us up for the rest of the day! Second feed stop was at the top of the climb …. a welcome brew before a 10 km descent into the valley the other side, where we immediately turned left and back up the Grand Colombier, there are four ways up and this is the hardest! Why because it is the direct route and has a horrendous middle section where you plug awAy at gradients of 12-15% and then turn a corner to see what can only be described as a 800 mtrs long and dead straight brick wall at 22% gradient! When your Garmin pauses every few pedals you know you are taking your time!!!… but, I didn’t get off as several did 👍 what actually makes it even worse is that after that it continues at 12% for several
More Km before easing toward the top…. although the last km was on brand new Tarmac, was about 10% and dead straight and was shrouded in fog – which started to clear as we descended.
We were now back down in the valley and a group of four of us shared the load along a nice road with some fantastic scenery along a lakeside … the sun was now out and we made our way around the lake into the grapevine countryside and a steady 15km slow ascent to the base of our last climb the Mont du Chat. Here we had our last stop of the day – a quick caffeine fix. By now the legs are gone but it’s the last climb of the day – a mere 9km at an average of 10.5%… this hurt but was my best climb of the day, really pushed hard standing every minute to push on a bit more watching the Km markers run slowly down. The top was finally reached and wind proofs came on for the 14km descent while I waited for a couple of others behind me.
The descent, well, it was one of the best descents you will ever do, new Tarmac on the top 3/4 kms, along the side of the mountain with minor bends allowing you to see well ahead and down through the trees, throwing the bike gently left and right and about every 500mtrs taking a hairpin then speeding out again …. it was bloody awesome …. the only thing that could have made it better was knowing cars would not be coming the other way – met 3 on the way down. Have to say the sun was now out and the views into the valley were stunning but the descent was too good to stop for photos!!! Took a good twenty minutes to get to the valley and had gained a minute and a half of my other riders by then!😀😀
From here we tanked it back to our hotel which was all down for the last 20 km …. a good one to watch on Tv
Stage 8 - Dole to Station des rousses 187.5km
Thank heaven that’s over, a day of pain is the nicest thing I can say. An early coach ride with us on the bikes by 0800… and then it started!!!! We had the obligatory headwind and rain, and the rain stayed all day. Full winter kit on… rubber boots, arm warmers, Gabba, vest, long fingered gloves…. and then midway through the day I added a gillet and waterproof …. and rode with the whole lot on which says it was bloody miserable all day! The Jura is supposed to be stunning …. not today as we couldn’t see anything for the low cloud and rain. Before today we’d done over 1200 kms and my legs knew it😟. Hate is a strong word …. but I didn’t enjoy it! We had several riders cut the ride short, a couple retired with injuries which maybe showed how bad it was. My knees feel as if they are popping out, my derrière feels as if someone has been beating it with a stick … and my mood today was not at its best!! Tomorrow we have a 6:15 coach trip for over an hour to the start of the Queen stage …. going to be an extremely testing day…… falling asleep as I write this so Zzzzzz recovery needed and give you some tit bits on tomorrow’s torture route …..
Stage 7 - Dole to Station des Rousses 187.5km
TdF stage 7…. unbelievably that’s seven of 21 stages complete…. and tomorrow we start climbing proper! Today we had 65 riders on the road after another ten joined us for the next three days. Sort of sunny for the off at 8 and it was a meander along the river Seine, the wind was just gathering pace at this point ….. that was to continue to a very uncomfortable level! After the first controlled section – off and on the bike for the photos, I made a break for it whilst everyone else tried to break into groups, the theory being that someone will catch you and you can join them…. and indeed this was the case when a very strong group finally picked me up 15km down the road! Quick and easy decision to sit in was made and we powered on to the second stop at 85 km in. The wind had already picked up such that the pace at times was down to circa 20km/hr, this is where the fun starts as the next section the heavens opened as we crossed an exposed plateau….. think length of Dartmoor, together with at least 20/25 knots of headwind ….. cold wet and miserable – to the extreme! Think being on your limit in a tight group and that was it in the weather. At lunch one of our group had to be wrapped in space blanket and could not continue with us. After lunch we ploughed on with a much smaller group of 7 which later reduced to the 5 of us, one of our group took a tumble on a fast long descent in the wet but apart from a few scratches was ok to continue. After our last stop we were reduced to 5 and we tanked it to the finish …. slowly into the monstrous headwind but the last mile into the finish was downwind and on the newly laid tarmac we seriously hammered it. Another really long day, as hard as they get and all before the climbing starts tomorrow.
Stage 6 - Vesoul to Troyes 216km
Ok so today was over 50% on a main road, long straights undulating into a 15knt headwind and really heavy rain showers …. the pros next week however won’t have the arctic’s and traffic to contend with! We had four stops as usual …. and you need them on long days like this where you are just grinding the miles down. It was an uninspiring route and next week if the wind blows it will definitely split the peloton! The roads after the half way point are really exposed and narrow – will be fun to watch them do it. My bet is a breakaway will only succeed if it’s a large one – far too open and exposed to the winds. 139 miles on the clock today …. tomorrow with ride to hotel and start means a likely another 140!!! Into a headwind … another one to grind out albeit the scenery will become more interesting 👍
Stage 5 - Vitell to La Planche des Belles Filles
TdF stage 5, first mountains! And only 100 miles today with a finish on Planche des Belles Filles a finish Revisited from 2012 TdF. Leisurely first 40km as is the routine on tour, only 3 stops today as it was a short day, lunch was at a lovely lake after which I made a lone break away, first to leave and I managed to stay away on my lone break for 25 Km before two of our Australian contingent working together caught me on a climb – my Achilles heel 😟 however with another 50km to go only a handfull got past the old man to the top of Planche des Belles … chuffed with that even though I rode half the day alone …. hope my sponsors got the TV coverage 😂😂 interesting point you probably don’t want to know …. the legs are sooo sore, but worse – imagine a tenderised steak, well that’s how my derrière feels. 😟😟 Tomorrow another 225 km into wind according to the forecast … we’ll see
Stage 4 - Mondorf-les-Bains Luxembourg to Vittel in France 125 miles
Four down!, today we transferred by coach at 6:15 back to Luxembourg and a breakfast with Frank Schlek… retired and skinny as a rake!!! He was humorous and great to listen to – came across as a genuinely nice person…. his view on the tour…. you start and get tired, next day a bit more tired, then a bit more until after 4/5 days you have reached peak tiredness and you just suffer for the next few weeks – sooooo true!!!!! Yet another 200k plus day and we started on light rain, it was long and flat – another day for me to grind away 😀 worked in a good group of 8 and averaged between 30-35km/hr…. the traffic lights slow you down in all the towns we passed through. We have four stops each day, after the second at 80km we got well and truly soaked in a torrential downpour … on a section that you see on tv – 20km dead straight of ups and downs … fun? After lunch the wind got up and the sun came out …. now we roasted again! Post the last stop with 40k to go we joined up with another 8 and started working hard towards the finish …. unfortunately they dropped off one by one with the pace and a small group of 4 hammered it to our decent hotel (last night wasn’t!) The ride was hard but the massage – essential every day, was painful beyond belief…. as you might tell!….. Tomorrow is ‘only’ a 100 miles ….. yah!!! 😀but the sting is we finish on La Planche des Belles Filles 6km at an average of 8.5% …. after 100 miles… 2012 revisited
Stage 2 - Dusseldorf to Liege
Well, rained overnight and left behind a bloc headwind of 15/20kts which when riding from A to B and B happens to be upwind it makes for a tough and noisy day! 127 miles cracked with us gate crashing a whole town out on an Anti – nuclear process, a village closed for a fete – but we were allowed to squeeze through, and then the sprint section in Liege closed off by the police with big guns on show… after much cajoling they allowed us to walk the sprint.. bizarre day! I’m sure the Pro’s won’t have the same problem. Interesting fact … didn’t spot one pot hole all day, perfect smooth roads all the way….. loads of traffic lights to slow us on the German section…. and that wind!! Flat day built for me…. tomorrow is over 130 miles and is lumpy through Luxembourg and finishing on a Cat 3 climb at Longwy.
Stage 1 - The Prologue
“Prologue ticked off, 50mtr long train of cyclists navigating the shopping district of Düsseldorf. Red lights every 100 mtrs and an interesting fact …. if the front rider has gone through on green then the whole peloton can go through even if it goes to red mid way…. it’s the law in Germany and provided all riders are closed up they are treated as one long vehicle…. how sensible!👍 Tomorrow first day proper, 127 miles down to Liege in Belgium”