The Tour de Force

The Tour de Force

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Born Under A Bad Sign...Stage 2: Utrecht to Zeeland...Sunday 28th June 2015

We were a little tired this a.m. but still rolled out with all the rest of the rabble bang-on 0800hrs, under a blue Utrecht sky with light winds. 110 miles to go. Result!

Could be a tad windy...
What's the collective for a bunch like this? No, best not to answer thanks.
This constituted a hill today, hah-hah!
The first 25 miles of each stage are  controlled- the fast guys can't sod-off right away basically, which means that there is more of a group ethos. Because we spent a lot of time today on Nederland's cycle lanes there was an awful lot of stop-start behaviour...this is what put paid to a decent average speed. In between the traffic lights etc., the speed did get up to 20 mph or so: thanks in no small part to the flat terrain.

Go on Jack!

We were victims of our own success in this regard: because we were rolling along quicker than the admin team reckoned on, and the tricky nature of putting signs on so many cycle lanes meant that we had gotten ahead of the signing team. This resulted in more than a few bouts of hanging around, in an effort to let them get ahead...lo and behold we caught them again!

As Andy said, if this is the only thing that goes wrong over the next three weeks then that'll do for us. Dead right. Mind you, I couldn't help thinking of this Charlie Watts interview today: worth catching what he says at 2 mins and 20 secs on...class delivery!

What was great to see today was how savvy the riders are, in terms of shouting warnings of road furniture, cars and civilians. And we all stayed upright too...excellent! A happy by-product of the hold-ups was that we cycled in two or three large bunches, which meant that there was a lot more mixing, chatting and general bonhomie that otherwise might have been the case.

A shower of lycra.
Your guess is as etc...
Yup. A duck's head.
So a bit of a different day for sure, but still strangely enjoyable. What was the icing was that our hotel for tonight is a belter: much too fine for the likes of us but there we are. Cheers!

The circus has come to town: stage two dans le bag!

Please do see if you can spare a dinarii or HERE TO SPONSOR ME...THANKS!!!

(Hey You) The Rock Steady Crew! Stage 1: Utrecht...Saturday 27th June 2015

Well, well, we go again! Sorry this is a day late, but we sorta got ourselves a bit busy yesterday...
It's so bad, it's good!

No dramas travelling out to meet Andy in Schipol on Friday evening: he even had a beer waiting for that's how a tour should begin, right? Right. Today was a late start, ahem...lots of admin and handshakes and forgetting peoples' names even though you've met them not twenty seconds ago. I blame Duvel for this!

Yeah, I know it *should* be Heineken but the barrel had just gone. We had no choice, honest! This was post-bimble, btw...
After scrutinising the bikes for a good 10 seconds we declared them fit for purpose. Just like Team Sky, the devil is in the detail.

The standard inane grins of eejits who have little idea what they've let themselves in for...
Utrecht gearing-up for Le Grand Depart!
A little mouse with clogs on just out of shot!
Today's stage was a potter around Utrecht which was confined to cycle lanes and there was tons of stopping and starting at traffic lights, so no PBs were set, hah-hah! I was just pleased that we all managed to stay upright for the whole 8 mean feat I assure you.

After that it was a couple of briefings about the essential admin and how the tour is run etc.: they even give you the opportunity to change your room-mate. Perish the thought...although I'm sure that I detected a sideways glance from Le Tracteur!

We then we legged-it to The Tivoli to see Kasabian. Top venue matched by a top performance by the band! Post-show is when the wheels came off the wagon slightly: the hotel bar was still open, hah-hah!

Top organisation!
"Help me..."
Ace venue and a band and audience who were having a ball!
Great to hear this covered too...

As the old chestnut goes: there really is nothing like preparing properly for a Grand Tour. And that really was nothing like preparing properly, hah-hah!

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!

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!