The Tour de Force

The Tour de Force

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Worn on the Fourth Of July...Stage 8: Rennes to Mur de Bretagne...Saturday 4th July 2015

Wishing all ex-colonial types a very happy Independence country, top people. Cheers!

If you've never heard this version of 'Born In The USA' then you're in for a treat. Really.

Just for a change the alarm sounded at 5.15am this morning and we stumbled onto the coach eventually for the hour-long transfer to today's start in Rennes. The forecast was for blustery headwinds for the duration: surprisingly there were no complaints from me as we had been given a little help during yesterday's insanity.

Again, let's just go direct!
Let me guess...rolling?
After about 1 mile I happened upon some road rage a la Francais in action...scooterist looked to be on the receiving end of some sturdy verbals!
"Sacre bleu you cretin!" etc...
Memo to self: don't pick such a long drag to park yourself on photo detail. This pair took a while...
Although fair play to Nick for his Tommy Voeckler impression. Equally he may really just have been bollocksed by that climb! Tim is with him. Looking very restrained. Do not be fooled, people!
Dans this area of Brittany, Bernie Hinault is a god.

We were a bit curious (read: worried) as to what effect yesterday would have on our legs...Andy was happy to have me lead for a bit. Dear Lord, he must have been struggling, hah-hah! It was an honour to serve, the event we ended-up joining on to the fast guys for a spell. The only notable thing from this was a dose of pain and a selfie. Not all bad, then.

Check-out TLR leading Le Tour. Collector's item.
After the lunch-stop we hooked-up with Tim MVP again to work with each other against the rolling terrain and the breeze, which worked really well. The terrain reminded me of cycling through Missouri...roller after roller after roller...rinse and repeat. Ouch for all!

Pretending to apply beans of medium quantity: wardrobe to celebrate Colonials' Day!
To commemorate the US Forces liberating the area.
My kinda garage!
The Tour de France organisers have decided to end this stage with a run up the Mur de Bretagne climb: a very horrible-looking b-road with gradients between 5-15% for about 3/4 mile. It's just a grind after all...but I will be keen to see how our pro brethren storm up it after 115 miles. The smart money is on 'very fast indeed'!

The only other point to note is a change to our post-stage rehydration...

The tonic water is good for preventing cramping (so Johnny reckons and I won't argue) while the cup contains the local cider. Traditional way of serving it/they'd run-out of glasses. One cup was fine, thanks.
Today's stage was for Jonesy, who had a nasty bike accident this week. Wishing you the fullest and speediest recovery, mate...appreciate your support as ever.

And as ever, if you can spare a dime...please GO HERE!

Blazing Saddles! Stage 7: Livarot to Fougeres...Friday 3rd July 2015

Apologies for this being a day late, but Campanile hotels believe that wi-fi is something that should be advertised but not actually usable! Anyway, here we go...

Apparently this was the first 'breaking wind' scene ever filmed in a mainstream movie, trivia fans. Seems kind of apt for a couple of reasons: the various energy drinks and dietary changes that riders are undergoing mean that food-stops are not places for the faint-hearted, hah-hah! The other reasons are that it was a scorcher of a day with temps rising to 95f, and the fact that I've never cycled 120 miles as quickly!

It was another 0530hrs alarm in order to get on a coach to transfer to Livarot: the good news was that on arrival we would be enjoying some weapons-grade coffee and croissants before setting off. Bon!

Looks alright, right?

Er, more malarkey of the rolling variety!
The chap who kindly supplied our coffee before the off, also displayed these champs. No sign of Lance, hah-hah-hah!
Livarot is like the rest of France: gearing-up for the big event. Bon!

It was terrific weather as Andy and I rolled out and pushed on, stopping for the odd photo- there were tons of Le Tour-related tat and also some superbly inventive displays in the various villages and towns that we steamed through. It brings it home that we really are lucky so-and-so's to be doing this.
In one village we did get cheers and applause from the locals: I don't think the bar was even open yet! As frustrating and bloody minded as they can be (Calais, anyone?), I do love them for the way that they embrace cycling still.

After the first stage we met-up with one of the riders who had just arrived and is doing three of the twenty-one stages. Tim was clearly a very strong cyclist, and even better than that, a very strong cyclist with fresh legs who loved taking a turn at the front. We shared the 'work' to the second feed-stop and we were flying, to be fair!

With Team Lanterne Rouge's loan signing, Tim. Top man!
There was 25 miles between each remaining food-stop and these turned into time-trials, pretty much! At the third stop, Tim remarked to no-one in particular that it we could be at the next one in an hour: Andy and I said "Non". We went and did it anyway, hah-hah!

The above shows what I was seeing at times as we caned it.

Tons of tat...brilliant!
Always on the look-out for ropey photo-ops. Really?
We're still seven days ahead of them though.
We're definitely going in the right direction, thanks.

Rare shot of me attempting to lead us up a drag! 
Team Lanterne Rouge fears no one. And plainly doesn't understand basic French either.

"...Rodney." Lunch was decent. And much needed!
We could have chosen to take it easy after lunch- we'd earned that right, I think. But oh no, not us! The temperature kept rising, as did the speed. It literally was a blast and we caught everyone who had set-off ahead of us. The best catch was a pair of native TT riders who were moving along alright: the look on their face when we passed them? I was in the lead and childishly adopted the most relaxed pose that I could and tipped my visor in greeting! Priceless. To be fair, they drafted us for a bit and then passed us but we weren't having any of that and they threw the towel in, hah-hah!

We catch the native TTers. They were a tad surprised, hah-hah! 
Don't drop too far back or you'll make double-difficult to get back on...
Big thanks again to the TdF support crew because they make all this possible- without show. At the end of the ride I had another sports massage- you may have heard the screams back in the UK, but they seem to be a good thing. Seem...

Big thanks to Andy and especially Tim who was definitely the Most Valuable Player today. Cheers!

If you would like to sponsor me then please click HERE...thanks!

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!