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Colin and John started their long journey today, you can keep up to date with their progress below!
It’s not that we didn’t enjoy the mud, rain, wind turbines and headwinds of the first part of the ride (ok, it is), but when the peloton is flowing through the vineyards and olive groves of Provence with the sunlit mountains on one side and the coastal plain that leads down the Mediterranean on the other, you can I almost see why people come back to do this ride time and again. Sadly Colin missed most of this having blinded himself with hastily applied suncream but at least he’ll be able to enjoy the photos.
We’re now in Cannes having completed the whole ride with no stages missed despite the aching joints and various disorders (less said about that the better).
We’re really proud to have done this and also to have encouraged our sponsors to reach a figure of £6,500 for Coram so we’d like to say a massive thank you to all those that did sponsor us.
We’re also grateful to the colleagues that have covered for us while we were away and families for putting up with our absence while training and her.
Jess (Colin’s secretary) has been a complete star in organising every detail and tackling every issue before we’d even thought of it so another massive thank you to her.
Time to leave the French Riviera and head back to sunny Britain (you live in hope).
Thanks again for you support.
Colin and John
Another day, another 150+ miles preceded by a dozen half hearted arm-twirling in a cold far car park somewhere on the edge of a French city although to be fair we’ve exchanged the mud, rain and wind turbines for Provence olive groves, vineyards and hilltop villages.
It was a day of mixed fortunes for us both which was probably nothing to do with John’s superior fitness and resolve.
Whilst John discovered the freedom from crippling pain that ibuprofen can bring, Colin had developed a terrible stomach disorder which left him unable to eat, communicate or satisfactorily perform other vital functions. Having resolved never to miss a stage of the ride by signing up the Team Pegasus bus ban, he ground it out in silence shedding genuine tears of suffering. A visit to the medics van eventually brought some relief so that by the time we reached Aix-en-Provence he was on the road to recovery (but thankfully not still on the road).
So we have one more day which is 110 very hilly miles into Cannes and the luxury of a 5.15 am lie-in.
Weather is set fair and team Pegasus are looking forward to a beer and a pizza although given we’ve been averaging about 3.5 hours sleep a night it probably won’t be a late one on the company yacht!
“Des batons d’escalier”, “il pleu biblique” or maybe “ill pleau les chats et les chiens”. We’re not sure what the French equivalent of raining stair rods is but for two hours this morning between 6am and 8am the rain was torrential and almost led us to having dark thoughts about riding on the bus and not cycling any more.
The good news was that for a bit there was no headwind which meant we were treated to a full 30 minutes lunch break allowing all vital functions to be performed (food, water refill and toilet) – luxury!
The afternoon was pretty brutal with 6 x 200 metre climbs interspersed with riding across flat plains with a brutal headwind.
Last up was what we thought was a near suicidal 30km dash to Valence (south of Lyon) urged by the ride captains to sit on the person in front’s wheel at 30mph in a nervous peloton of 50 people to avoid the slower/exhausted ones (John) dropping off the back and having to be drafted back on.
So we’re in the south of France already (like it was really easy!) and tomorrow we’ve got a slight shorter but unbelievably more hilly day.
Forecast for more rain (obviously)…
The day started well (tendinitis and bruised bottoms allowing) with a saunter through champagne where we noted the fine aspect and favourable terroir.
Pretty soon this ended and the rain and headwind began and as the wind turbines span furiously across there bleak treeless landscape, our spirits were lifted (slightly) by the sound of Dancing Queen blaring from a very loud speaker strapped to the back of one of the bikes.
In between cycling stages we’re allowed to eat and go to the toilet. We’re welcomed into the feed station by lots of cheery ladies (travelling by bus) blowing whistles and shouting well done. After this we’re told we’re riding too slowly and as a result need to do everything in ten minutes rather than the planned hour. This would almost possible if it weren’t for the amount of limping, stiffness and frequently delirium we are now suffering.
The last part of today was great (condition allowing) with long swooping descents with 100 bikes with red tailights snaking down through the forest into Dijon. We streamed through the city with the motorcycle outriders racing past to close down the junctions for us to ride through.
Now we’re enjoying the luxury of Novotel Dijon with their culinary specialism being courgettes, rice and it you’re feeling indulgent-grated cheese.
The weather looks wet tomorrow. No change there then!
Proud chateaus standing atop vine-clad hillsides, orchards tended to by happy farm workers waving in sun.
We experienced none of these things today but through the mist and drizzle we were able to appreciate the great expanse of muddy fields, countless wind farms and a horizon that just kept on going.
Actually the French have mostly been really supportive and at one stage an entire bar lent out the window to cheers us on with an Allez Allez Allez!
194 miles today which is a record for us both. We set off at 6am in the the dark and finished at 9 in the dark hobbling and slightly dazed. Same tomorrow (and the next day)!!
Le grand depart
Le grand depart occurred to much fanfare before immediately grinding to a halt whilst a delivery lorry reversed into a loading bay. Day 1’s pre-race planning sessions didn’t prove to be much help and we resolved to do less of it this evening.
After that, it was barely controlled chaos across London as the peloton got lost, split up and attacked by rabid van drivers.
Calm was restored after leaving London as the mostly rookie members of the peloton learnt the rudiments of safe and considerate riding by signalling for potholes, gravel and slowing speed. We weren’t given advice on how to warn of manure, dead badgers or lakes in the road.
Having now settled into the Calais Ibis Budget we are preparing our kit now to avoid having to do it at the wake up time of 4.45am (3.45 English) time.
180 miles over 14 hours tomorrow with rain and a headwind forecast (deep breath)…
Having successfully negotiated our way around the logistical challenge of getting 6 bags and two bikes across the country to Central London by ordering a taxi, we have managed to establish ourselves in the sumptuous surroundings of the Premier Inn Leicester Square.
En route (just limbering up linguistically) we were able to engage in some early tactical race planning in a nearby establishment (see photo) which has proven to be more complex than anticipated and may require further attention later this eve.
Grand Depart for Folkstone (70 miles) tomorrow at an amenable 9am with the the forecast set fair-ish.