The Tour de Force

The Tour de Force

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Good Times, Bad Times...Stage 6: Abbeville to Le Havre...Thursday 2nd July 2015

Today was a blinding stage for me, pretty much. So why the choice of tune? The answer in a bit...

Coastal malarkey ahoy!
More rolling malarkey!
Phil, our Tour Guru did warn us that we would probably get wet at some point today, so did either of Team Lanterne Rouge carry our waterproof jackets from the start? After an intense and heated debate which went along the lines of "Meh, it'll be alright...we can get them at lunchtime after all...". Yep, you can fill in the blanks yourselves: it started pleutin' right after the first food-stop, hah-hah!
We had a fast-ish bunch with us and caned it onwards, rain or shine. Rain mostly, with the occasional fairly adjacent flash of lightning...that concentrates the mind!
My handlebar
Handlebar Must be a slooooow news day!
Cliffs ahoy! Somewhere near Dieppe. I think.
Normally I loathe the sight of wind turbines but if they indicate a helping hand...short-lived, hah-hah!
Caution on the descents after the showers...
 After a brief lunch-stop (nobody wants to linger in wet gear) we had a carbon copy of the previous session, just at a slightly less frantic pace...but the miles were being eaten. As were bananas, apricots etc! The terrain was rolling all day and I just about stayed in touch with this bunch...on the flat is one thing, but when the gradient goes up, I go back!
This is Mr Andrew Wates churning out the miles on the run into Le Havre!
 After the third food-stop we were rolling along nicely again: even I put my nose in the wind. As happens, one of our number at the rear punctured, which caused our group to splinter as some guys stayed with him to help him out. This left Andy and myself to ride into Le Havre (we were joined by Malcolm for the last 10 miles) and we passed the charity's Chief Trustee (and father of William Wates). Good going, Andrew!

Ropey footage. Standard.
And a shoddy photo of Le Havre. Not a total kharzi.
Bike and top are model's own. Nobody else would touch them!
So far, so good. It wasn't until about an hour later that we heard that two of the riders had accidents...what sounds like a touch of wheels and down you go. Matt has a nasty bit of road-rash and Harry has fractured his femur: the former  will roll out regardless tomorrow and I hope Harry will return to Le Tour when he can. Heal the fastest, guys...

This is two tone!

You're doubtless fed-up with this incessant badgering, but the link to sponsor me is HERE!

Ring Of Fire...Stage 5: Arras to Amiens...Wednesday 1st July 2015

Brother Ray's version is a slow-burning won out in the end as 'Choon Of The Day'.

Today's little sojourn was a 115 miles from Arras to Amiens: a route designed to take in quite a few battlefield memorials. A handy reminder that we owe them, still.

Can we not just go direct to Amiens?
Rolling, rolling, rolling!
There was a 0530hrs alarm call in order to get everyone onboard a coach to transfer to the start dans Arras: and we did try to shift ours thereafter!

Readying ourselves/fannying around. You decide!
Only one of many...
At the first feed-stop I was honoured to be granted a photo with Le Maillot Jeune himself: usually you might think people are taking liberties wearing such apparel but Bertrand can 'walk the walk'.
Maillot Jaune meets Lanterne Rouge.
Thought it might be a plan to get ahead of the bunch and take a photo...
...and then realised that we'd have to chase to catch them. D'oh! 
All different from 100 years ago.
Just back after the second feed-stop I had my second puncture in as many days...bon! Thankfully I was with Andy and two other proper cyclists, so it was sorted pronto and then we beasted the next 6 miles until lunch. Not entirely pleasant but it got the job done, hah-hah!

We passed many similar signs...
Give it the beans!
After lunch it was a case of drinking loads and watching the miles melt away, all the while with the temperature increasing: it would eventually reach 40c (104f). was a tad extreme...the insane heat from the tarmac wouldn't quit. Unlike some of the tarmac that started to melt!

Just follow these two eejits to the hotel!
We managed to finish by 1630hrs...I then treated myself to a sports massage. I joked to the masseur that if I fell asleep just kick me: he remarked that I probably had never had a sports massage if I thought that was possible. He wasn't joking either- he kneaded the living daylights out of me! He then told me go and sit in a cold bath for 7 mins to try and repair muscle damage and get rid of the lactic build-up. I actually did as I was told for a change and it seemed to help.

The last riders came in 3 hours later: I cannot imagine how tough that day was for them and a big round of applause goes to the TdF support team: there is no show without them!

I'm still shaking the virtual charity can too: if you think this event, effort and cause is worth backing, then please CLICK HERE...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!