The Tour de Force

The Tour de Force

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

It will be a...start!

Bonjour et bonnet de douche,
Easter has come and gone, the days are getting longer which means it's that time of year when I start harassing you good people for loose change in order to help some others who aren't as lucky as we are.
Kicking-off in The Nederlands, then wheezing into Belguim before struggling into France. Bon!
This year's challenge is one of my (very few) ambitions: to cycle all the stages of the Tour de France in the same time-frame as the professional teams. Alright, I'll be on the road for a few hours longer each day than they will, but you get the idea. Yeah I know, put it mildly! I'm sure that you probably have a rough idea what this all involves, but I'll trumpet the vital statistics anyway...imperial, not metric thank you:

- there will be 40 eejits (including my regular cycling partner-in-lycra-crime Andy W.) cycling the whole route with up to 40 more joining in for various stages along the way...

- we'll cycle over 2100 miles in 21 stages...

- by the time we roll/struggle into Paris, we'll have climbed the combined equivalent of Scarfell Pike, Snowdon, Ben Nevis, Mont Blanc, Kilimanjaro and some speed-bump called Everest...

This official video will give you an idea of where we'll be headed, courtesy of the tour organisers. Les sadists!
Alright then, now I hopefully have convinced you rightfully sceptical types that this is a big ask, I'll fill you in on the charity-fundraising side of things...

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...that has to be worthwhile!

Their official mission statement/blah is, "To encourage disadvantaged and vulnerable young people away from anti-social behaviour and criminal activity, enabling them to fulfil their potential."
Basically they’re the acceptable version of ‘Children In Need’ and ‘Comic Relief’ i.e. no sign of Lenny Henry or the cast of Eastenders doing a song & dance number!

So far the WWMT have given out grants totalling £2M to support charities and projects in towns and cities in various parts of the UK: there may well be a project that they have helped near you. The link below opens a.n.other video which will reveal all...

                      The William Wates Memorial Trust video...please have a look!

Up until recently I wasn't going to ask for any sponsorship for this challenge and just pay the minimum fundraising amount myself, for two reasons:

1) If I hadn't heard of the William Wates Memorial Trust then it's a safe bet that you hadn't either and therefore I reckoned that no-one would sponsor me, and

2) You have been amazingly generous and patient people over the last few years and I am mindful not to wear out your goodwill. Or wallets, come to that...

However, I read about a school in Bradford that benefited from a WWMT grant. Thanks to The Trust, Woodside Academy now have a cycling track, fleet of bikes, bike safety and bike mechanics classes. It may not sound like much but it really has made a difference to the kids involved.

The WWMT has given money to a load of other 'good ideas', from boxing gyms to youth clubs to after-school projects in all parts of the UK. Their idea is to fund efforts that will have a legacy: for example, instead of just funding a kids' football team, the WWMT will also fund training to allow suitable kids to qualify as coaches. It's about the future as well as the here-and-now. Smart idea, yes?

So that is my (lousy but sincere) pitch, and here is my deal: I'll pay the minimum amount of required fundraising (and the cost of the tour, natch) and if you are able to spare a couple of quid to help then so much the better. Ideally if we can raise another £600 then that will mean a total of £3K. Can't say fairer etc.!

The inevitable link if you'd like to sponsor me is at Good moaning!.

As is the way with these challenges, I'll keep posting updates/drivel at all too regular intervals. Sorry about that...anyway, I'll leave you with this gem.

I know it borrows heavily from 'Taxman' which is a nice way of reminding you to select GiftAid if you are sponsoring me!


Same bike this time but thankfully sans les panniers. And definitely no sprinting!
ps...some words of wisdom from Bernard 'The Badger' Hinault, who won the TdF 5 times and is a bloke worth listening to despite being a complete git:
“An amateur should think long and hard before attempting one of these stages, two would probably necessitate a visit to a Doctor, three would require a psychiatrist – any more and you should be checking that person has written a will."

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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!