Sunday, 11 July 2010



TOTAL CYCLING TIME : 155 hours 41 mins

TOTAL ASCENT: 49,250 metres

AVERAGE SPEED: 22.7km/hr


CALORIES BURNED : approx 150,000

It is the day after the finish in Paris, and it feels great not to be on my bike today... i won't be on it tomorrow.. or the next day.. or the next... We have been in such a bubble the last 3 weeks it will take a few days to settle back into the "real world". I will miss the comraderie of the group, and it will feel weird not getting on my bike at 7am and getting off it over 12 hours later. Over the next few days i expect the 'lead leg' feeling to dissapate, the feeling in the palms of my hand to come back, and for the saddle soreness to disappear. The leg and arms tans are ridiculous. That goes for the glove tan lines too... I am looking forward to weighing myself, but honeslty feel that i haven't lost a great deal of weight, i won't be surprised if i weigh the same as when i left. Some people have lost over a stone and a half, to the point where it looked like they are wearing their dad's clothes at dinner every night. There were multiple drop-outs, but only one from the original 15 that set out to complete the whole course.

I had 2 punctures
I fell off once
I rode a spare bike for 6 days
I didn't get lost once (all down to Claire and her amazing signs the whole route!)

If anyone reading this wants to attempt anything similar, i would advise the following:

Buy the best pair of shorts you can
Ride within yourself every day
Stretch, drink recovery drink and put your legs in the air for 20 minutes after every ride
Get someone like Classic Tours to do all the logistics

Many thanks to everyone for your support all along the way. Getting e-mails, texts and Facebook messages really put a smile on my face - it was great to know that people back home were interested in what we were doing!

I will miss writing this blog, but i have comfort in knowing that i have these daily recollections forever!

Here are the other 13 riders that completed all 20 stages of the 2010 Tour de France route:













Steve Young

Phil Deeker (53) Classic Tours Rep. AKA "the Fish"

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Tour de France Stage 20 - FINISHED!!!


Like the riders of the actual Tour de France, we had a 50km "procession" ride today from the town of Massy into the heart of Paris. Entering the centre of Paris meant a real stop-start ride, with plenty of traffic lights and roundabouts to put up with. However, nothing could wipe the smiles off the faces of the 14 "lifers" (as the 14 people that have cycled the whole course have been nicknamed) on this special day. It was a ride to take in the scenery, lap up the emotion of riding up the Champs Elysees (with 2 laps of the roundabout at the Arc de Triumphe - great fun!) and the ride to the finish line next to the Eiffel Tower.

The "lifers" waited in a cafe for 20 minutes whilst the rest of the group made their way to the finish line (also giving friends and family that had made the trip to Paris to welcome loved ones the opportunity to see us arrive at the scheduled time....)

Those final 10 minutes circling the Eiffel Tower were very special! As we arrived at the finish we were greeted by a wave a pink shirts, applause, photos, spraying water bottles and plenty of smiling faces. Despite most of us feeling that the top of the Tourmalet 3 days ago marked the end of the really tough cycling, crossing the finish line next to the Eiffel Tower really was the ideal end to the TDF challenge.

Once across the finish line we had about 30 minutes of congratulating each other, taking photos, phoning family and generally taking in the whole experience. Then it was a quick 5 minute walk to our Hotel to get ready for the evening celebrations...

I don't think that completing the 3 week event has actually sunk in yet, a feeling i am sure will develop at tonight's celebratory dinner and over the coming days... Not having to get up and get on my bike every morning from now on will be a strange feeling..

Tomorrow i will write a review piece on the "lifers" as well as post some videos from the whole trip. Off to get some champagne down my neck!

Here are some photos of today!

Easy riding on outskirts of Paris

The "Lifers"

Where we stopped for lunch, Chateaux Vincennes (i am far right)

Riding up the Champs Elysees


Friday, 9 July 2010

Tour de France Stage 19 - Time trial!

The first of the 2 "easy" 50km stages at the end of the Tour are now complete!

There is one 'time-trial' in this year's Tour de France, essentially a test where each rider rides alone on a 51km course to see how quickly they can complete it. For us, as there is no competition it meant an easy sociable 2 hour ride... grrrrreatt.

No hills! All the mountains are behind us now.. For today's ride we had over 60 riders, including children, golden oldies, wives, partners etc.. anyone that wants to go home saying they have ridden a stage of the 2010 Tour.

Out of Bordeaux we rode a 53km course that took us through the most famous vineyards in France (if not the world), this really will be a beautiful course to watch when the pros come through here in 2 weeks. From start to finish we were in sizeable pelotons chatting about the previous days, and recounting stories to those that are here for the last few stages only (heavily dramatised of course)

Jake and Rick turned up at breakfast in full pro time-trial gear, complete with silver foil helmets that kept them up most of the night making... it was worth it though, plenty of laughs!

Aside form the joking and socialising, there was time to take in the scenery along the route. We all knew that a big boozy lunch was to great us on arrival... something to look forward to

Lunch for 60 greeted us in Pauillac, a few glasses of wine and some beers resulted in most of us sleeping well on the 3.5 hour train journey from Bordeaux back to Massy (just outside of Paris) on tonight's transfer.

Jovial spirits all round! we feel like we have completed the challenge (barring any crashes tomorrow!) with just the procession to get through tomorrow (another 50km stage)

TOTAL CYCLING TIME : 152 hours 52 minutes

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Tour de France Stage 18 - Flat to Bordeaux

The last 150km plus day!

It seems that many of the riders switched off at the top of the Tourmalet, believing that the hard work for the TDF had been done.. Today's stage of 184km was seen as a straightforward affair for the following reason:

ie it is totally flat, unlike what we have had to endure the last 4 days..

A rolling first 37km was cycled before the stage flattened out for the final 150km. The word i heard most of today's ride was "bored"… Everyone wanted to get today over as quickly as possible, and it ended up being a mental challenge to endure the 7 hours of riding (a physical one it was not)

A nicer section of today's ride

In such mentally challenging rides, it is the concentration that needs to be kept alert, something we were all reminded of when seeing Rory sprawled across the road with severe rashes across his arms (including one deep cut) after a clash of wheels. The road could not have ben straighter, it was a classic peloton crash.

The heat was the other obstacle today, hitting as a high as 43 degrees on the road… At least when moving you get a warm breeze on the bike, it is only when you stop you realise the real heat of the day. I think i drank around 7 litres of fluid on the bike today, a few more at the stops..

After the transfer of 1 hour this morning (we got to bed after 12.45am!) we did well to arrive in Bordeaux at 6pm after 7 hours of cycling. It really does feel like the tough days are done, with just 2x 50km days to come now… A few sleepy people at dinner. The bad news is that one person (here for just the day) had to be pulled off the route with heat exhaustion.

Rory and i at the end of the day after his nasty crash

I also learnt that on one day last year, 3 people died cycling up the Tourmalet in heat similar to today (43 degrees), so it was a good thing we were there yesterday..

I am sure there will be a few beers this evening! 51km time trial stage tomorrow before a nice lunch and then 3.5 hour train to just outside Paris.. We start at 8.45am, feels like an UNBELIEVABLY long lie in..

TOTAL DISTANCE (18 stages) : 3,443 km


Tour de France Stage 17 "Etape du Tour"

Last day in the Pyrenees done!

A stage that definitely competes as the hardest of the 2010 Tour means an end to the mountains... here is the profile of stage 17:

Another 7.15am start had us on the road to the infamous Col de Marie Blanque. 55km of rolling hills (plus the first snack stop) took us all to the bottom of this 9km climb, a climb that is a real "sucker trap" for anyone not familiar with it... Of those 9km, the first 5km are at an average of 4-6%, and it is only at km market 6 that things get very spicy. The last 4km average 11%, 10%, 13% & 12% respectively... it is a sucker trap for anyone that goes to quickly on the bottom section. Having done this climb last year, i wasn't going to make that mistake again... I climbed this one at a steady pace with Jake

Jake climbing the MArie Blanque as it hits the steep section

The infamous sign showing 13% average gradient for the next km..

top of the Marie Blanque

Fom the top of the first climb, we had a superb descent that had me hitting my top speed of the Tour, 73.2 km/h.

Then it was along the valley for 20km before ascending the other side of the Col du Soulor (we climbed it from another way on Stage 16). This ascent was 29km in length, but only really was testing for the last 12km. We were at the hottest point of the day (35 degrees), and despite the very annoying horseflies this ascent was beautiful.

Jake decided to attack with 3km to go, and the competitive spirit in me took over (knowing it was the last tough day..) and so i felt obliged to hunt him down and take victory with 300m to the summit. The 300 sheep at the top were more than impressed.

Unable to watch the drama unfold

Another great descent down the Soulor (25km) took us into Argeles Gazost and to our lunch stop just 40km from the top of the Col de Tourmalet. We had done 135km, and it was only 3pm as a small group of us set off down the gorge that links Argeles to Luz st Savour. Once in Luz, you take a left turn that gets you onto the base of the Tourmalet, and a sign that says "18.3km to the summit"

I decided against stopping at the drinks stop after 5km of climbing as i wanted to ascend the mountain without stopping. The views to the top just about took away any pain in the legs on the 1hr 35 minute cycle to the summit...

The last 5km were an absolute joy. I took my foot of the pedals, took lots of pictures and absorbed myself in the moment. I knew that once at the summit there was only one flat long stage to go (stage 18) before 2 short stages into Paris before saturday. At the summit there was a big welcome party, TDF banner, photographers etc to welcome each rider in at the 2115m finishing line. The first thing every rider did was to get a beer or shandy from the Cafe at the summit.
Here am i taking it all in

From the summit, we cycled the 5km down the back of the mountain to La Mongie (ski resort) and had dinner in a hotel there, awaiting all the riders to come through. The last ones finished just as the light was fading.. Then it was time to hop on the bus and drive back to our hotel in Pau, we didn't get back til 12.45am..! Not ideal with tomorrow's transfer and early start..

The bikes used in 1908, the type first used to get up the Tourmalet

Day length: 8 hours 39 mins
Day distance" 174km

Total distance: 3,260km
Total riding time: 143 hours 6 minutes
(17 stages)

Map of the ride with Data HERE

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Tour de France Stage 16 - "Circle of Death"

The route for Stage 16 is aptly known as "the circle of death"... A look at the profile and its 4 very hard Pyrenean climbs will tell you why

I spent a total of 10 hours and 30 minutes in the saddle yesterday, climbed for 75km out of a total of 196km, and ascended half the height of Mt Everest (4,600m). I am writing this on our second rest day (needed!), i didn't have the energy to write it last night..

There was an early departure at 6.30am for those concerned that there may not be enough daylight hours to tackle the hardest day of the 2010 Tour route. I left our hotel in Luchon around 30 minutes later, and within 5 minutes was on the early part of the first cimb of the day up the Col de Peyresourde. In 2006 i cycled this mountain from the other side up, so had an idea of what it would be like. Taking it easy with Johnny, Sandy and Jake we ascended the foggy 14.5km climb in around 1hr 20 minutes.

Fromt he summit it was a cold (and wet) descent down to the next climb of the day, the Col D'Aspin. Similar gradient to the first climb, this mountain took us up to 1489m on a 12.5km ascent that did further damage to the legs, and by this point it wasn't even 10am. A lovely descent off the back of the Aspin (in improved weather) took us to the base of the infamous Col du Tourmalet. This mountain was first used in the Tour in 1910, and as it is the 100 year anniversary it is being used twice on this year's route. We will be back here on Wednesday.. The ascent from Sainte Marie was 17km in length, and amazingly we cycled through the cloud line at about 1800m on our way to the 2115m summit. Up there it was beautiful sunshine and blue sky, a good opportunity to rest and wait for everyone to reach the summit in their own time.

halfway up the Tourmalet

at the famous landmarks at the summit

most of the team resting their legs at the top

From the top of the Tourmalet we had an superb 19km downhill run (reaching speeds of 65km/h), during which something amazing happened. Descending a straight downhill stretch of road, i peered to my right just in time to see an eagle soaring about 20-30m away from me, at exactly the same height and flying in the same direction. The 6 foot wing-spanned bird followed my route for around 10 seconds... awesome. Shouts from cyclists behind told me i wasn't the only one to see this amazing sight

3 mountains done, only 1 to go... The last one however was 29km in length. After 5 hours of riding i had completed only 75km.. Devouring as much as i could for lunch, it was time to head up the Col de Soulor and onto the peak of the Col d'Aubisque. A climb that has 3 sections to it. I hooked up with Ed, Bev, Chris, Sandy and Colin for the 4th climb of the day.

By now some legs were really hurting, but the fact that it was past 5pm meant that resting at the top of the mountain couldn't be for too long.. we were told that the last 60km was "mainly downhill", and for the first time this information was true.. Our group of 7 worked very well in peloton (2 minute turns at the front) for the final hour to get us to the hotel just after 8.45pm. Having loaded with plenty of sugar at the final stop i rode into Pau feeling pretty good considering the long day we had just had.

Me with Bev and Ed after being on the road for 14.5 hours

Total distance: 3,085km
Total cycling time 134 hours 24 minutes

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Tour de France Stage 15 (Pyrenees still!)

Second day in the Pyrenees done!

Another very long day, over 8.5 hours of cycling, and some big mountains once again. Unlike yesterday, we had a few lumps and bumps to contend with in the early part of the day. Here is the stage profile

This morning's weather was miserable.. i had 3 layers & shoe covers on for the first few hours. When it rains like that you just have to put your head down and get on with it. Despite riding in large groups between the early feed stops, the conversation was light. I had my second puncture of the tour today, not bad for nearly 3,000km. The good news was that after 3 hours of cycling, and as we approached the first significant climb of the day, the sun came out, and temperatures quickly got into the mid 20s.

Before setting off

Morning rain at the feed stop

There were several interesting features of Stage 15. Firstly, we passed through the village of Carla Bayle, home to a community of 'free thinkers', a town that is twinned with Rotterdam (the starting location)

We also cycled through the "Grotto" de Mas D'Azil - something i have never done before! quite bizarre..

We then cycled up the Col de Portet d'Aspet, a climb that has become very famous in the race as being the last location of a death in the race. In 1995 the 25yr old Italian rider Fabio Casartelli crashed on the descent (which is very steep) and died on his way to hospital. A 'pre-cancer' Lance Armstrong was a team mate of his and marked an incredibly emotional win a few days after his death with this victory salute on the run in to Limoges

Lance dedicates victory to Fabio

This is the Casartelli Memorial just after a picture of me at the top of the climb

From there we ascended the next 2nd category climb of the day, the Col des Ares, quite a nice climb with no sections over 6%. From there it was a descent, then flat run over to the base of the big mountain of the day, the Port de Bales, a "beyond classification" climb which starts around 40km from the finish. What an incredible ascent.. i rode with Bev, Ed and Chris, saving the legs for tomorrow and taking some awesome pictures on the way up this 19km climb.

Ed before the climb - do you think he looks ready and willing??

From the top it was a lovely drop into Luchon and to our very nice hotel for the evening. Time for a quick bath before a later 8.30pm dinner. Some tired people this evening!