Category Archives: Tour de France Stages

Stage 14 – Riding through the Gorges du Tarn

Day 14 stats

Another transition day!
Another transition day!

Saddle time for today – 7 hour 10 minutes

Saddle time cumulative – 90 hours

Total actual distance so far – 2371km

Today was another transition stage, through the beautiful Gorges du Tarn and under the very impressive Millau viaduct.  It was a warm one again, with a couple of cheeky climbs thrown in for good measure.  The final one to the finish line was a Cat 2, known as the Cote de la Croix Neuve outside Mende, which is only 3km long but averages out at 10%, so was quite a challange at the end of a long hot day.

Couple of photos of the Xicon, the bike along the way:

Xicon with Millau Viaduct in the background.
Xicon with Millau Viaduct in the background.
Xicon in the Gorges du Tarn.
Xicon in the Gorges du Tarn.

And some roundabout decoration.

Traditional Tour de France roundabout decoration.
Traditional Tour de France roundabout decoration.

I have also invented a new word.  Let me explain.  Basically, if the Tour is coming through your town or village, it seems to be an excuse to get the road resurfaced with silky smooth tarmac, which from hence forth, shall be known as TOURMAC.  As we are riding the route, we are treated to quite a lot of Tourmac each day.  I wish the Tour would come to Oxfordshire!

Amount raised for William Wates Memorial Trust so far:  £3566.  If you would like to increase this amount, please use this link to my charity page.  I will personally thank you in the next post.

Stage 13 – Sunflower Stage

Day 13 stats

A transition stage!
A transition stage!

Saddle time for today – 7 hours and 20 minutes

Saddle time cumulative – 82 hours and 45 minutes

The day started in Muret.  It is said that the town produced the world’s first motorised flying machine 13 years before the Wright Brother took off.  I certainly wasn’t flying today after 3 hard days in the Pyrenees!  That said, I really enjoyed the stage.  It was the Sunflower Stage, beautiful rolling countryside and very hot.  This stage is the first of 4 transition stages to the Alps.  You would be crazy to think that they are easy, the roads through this area are very undulating, and in the 195km of today, there was about 2400 metres of climbing.  I loved it, but am looking forward to my supper later on.

IMG_20150710_091150

Amount raised for William Wates Memorial Trust so far:  £3566.  If you would like to increase this amount, please use this link to my charity page.  I will personally thank you in the next post.

Stage 12

Day 12 stats

Summit finishon Plateau de Beille.
Summit finishon Plateau de Beille.

Saddle time for today – 8 hours 40 minutes

Saddle time cumulative – 75 hours and 25 minutes

Total ascent – 4300 metres

The profile looked like a cardigram readout for an especially excited patient and it certainly tested our my heart rate!  The three major climbs were spaced patiently if not particularly forgivingly throughout the day.  Then the finish was on top of the monster of Plateau de Beille.  At 16 kilometres in length and close to 8% for its entire duration, it was, quite simply, a beast.   But we were blessed with a beautiful day in the Pyrennes, with lovely views throughout.

Xicon on the Port de Lers
Xicon on the Port de Lers
Xicon on the Col  de la Core
Xicon on the Col de la Core

Amount raised for William Wates Memorial Trust so far:  £3566.  If you would like to increase this amount, please use this link to my charity page.  I will personally thank you in the next post.

Stage 11

Day 11 stats

Col d'Aspin and Col du Tourmalet.
Col d’Aspin and Col du Tourmalet.

Saddle time for today – 8 hours 5 minutes

3800m of climbing

Saddle time cumulative – 66 hours 45 minutes

Well today’s stage was fun!  A damp, cold windy start in Pau didn’t bode well for the two big climbs of the day, the Col d’Aspin and the iconic Col du Tourmalet.  I wasn’t too concerned about going up, and actually the rain and drizzle kept me comfotable during the uphill fight against gravity.  However, I was slightly concerned about greasy roads coming down the mountains.  A couple of riders had had some spills on yesterday’s descent to the bus, so I took it fairly easily and stayed safe – always the best way.  That said, I did enjoy coming down, the road surface was good and there wasn’t too much traffic.  The sun did actually make an appearance at the summit at 2200m and I was able to get a summit shot of Xicon, the bike.  Oh and we did hit the halfway point for the Tour at some point today.

Xicon, the bike, at the summit of Le Col du Tourmalet
Xicon, the bike, at the summit of Le Col du Tourmalet

 

Anyway, that’s all for today, some admin to do, food to eat and sleep to bag before the final brute of a day in the Pyrenees, which finishes with a Hors Categorie (HC) climb upto Plateau de Beille, which is 8% for 16km.

Amount raised for William Wates Memorial Trust so far:  £3566.  If you would like to increase this amount, please use this link to my charity page.  I will personally thank you in the next post.

Stage 10 – summit finish on La Pierre St Martin

Stage 10 stats

Summit finish on La Pierre-Saint-Martin
Summit finish on La Pierre-Saint-Martin

Saddle time for today –  6 hrs and 45 minutes

Actual distance today as we rode from the finish to the bus – 193km

Saddle time cumulative –  58 hrs 40 minutes

Today’s stage finish was on the top of the Hors Categorie Pierre St Martin.  The stage was lovely, rolling in the foothills of the Pyrennes until the final climb of the day, which was about 15km of uphill fun.  I had fun and rode strongly.  Once at the summit, I took a picture of my bike, Xicon, before putting on my gilet and gloves to descend into the cloud and rain.  Took it fairly easily on the ride down to the bus, but enjoyed the whole day.  If you want to see the details of my ride, have a look at the Rides tab at the bottom of the page.

Xicon at summit of Pierre St Martin
Xicon at summit of Pierre St Martin

Tomorrow’s stage has much more climbing and includes the iconic climbs of the Tourmalet and Aspin, so should be another great day.

Amount raised for William Wates Memorial Trust so far:  £3566. Thank you very much to Sez, Jim, Aidan and Danny for the latest donation.  If you would like to increase this amount, please use this link to my charity page.  I will personally thank you in the next post.

Rest Day 1 (of 2) -Phew

Rest day 1 stats

Saddle time for today – 5 minutes just checking over my gears post cleaning.

Saddle time cumulative – 52 hours.

Actual distance covered, as at the end of each stage there is usually a ride to the hotel – 1407km

We are now in Tarbes, overlooking the Pyrenees on the first of two rest days (gosh we get it easy).  Got up slightly latter than usual, had a leisurely breakfast, did some personal administration, cleaned my bike and am looking forward to watching the real Tour ride up Mur de Huy slightly faster than I did this time last week!

Amount raised for William Wates Memorial Trust so far:  £3541.  If you would like to increase this amount, please use this link to my charity page.  I will personally thank you in the next post.

The Daily Routine on Le Tour

0530 alarm. Get up. Get dressed into cycling gear (not forgetting the chamois and sun creams). Put luggage on truck.  Force down French breakfast.  Bus transfer to start. Ride bike (the simple bit). Stop and eat at well stocked feed stations along the way.  Finish.  Collect bag and room key.  Eat some more. Stretch. Shower. Blog, if wifi permits.  Speak to family. Snooze. Go down for supper. Eat more. Sleep. REPEAT until you get to Paris! Simple.

The Tour really is a travelling bubble. I don’t work on days of the week anymore, just what stage I am going to ride that day. I’m sharing this epic journey with some incredible people. A sense of humour really can get you through some potentially tough stages. This is a team effort, riders and support staff together, every kilometre, every col, (although we haven’t done too many of those yet but that is going to change imminently), every stage, all the way to Paris. I love it!

Stage 9 – Team Time Trial stage

Day 9 stats

Saddle time for today – 1 hour 15 minutes

Saddle time cumulative – 51 hours 55 minutes

Real total distance by time I have got to the hotel etc – 1407km

Stage 9 complete.  Very easy 28km followed by a 9 hour bus journey south to the Pyrenees.  The real stage is a Team Time Trial, but as I don’t have a team or TT bike and had the prospect of a big bus journey, I took the opportunity for a very gentle ride around the course.  Tomorrow is the first of two rest days and then the mountains start.  I have to say that I am really looking forward to the stages that lie ahead.

Amount raised for William Wates Memorial Trust so far:  £3541.  Thank you for the latest donations from Neil Morgan. If you would like to increase this amount, please use this link to my charity page.  I will personally thank you in the next post.

Stage 8

Day 8 stats

Mur de Bretagne finish!
Mur de Bretagne finish!

Saddle time for today – 7 hrs 5 minutes

Saddle time cumulative – 50 hrs 40 minutes

Actually rode 205km today as the hotel was a bit away from the finish line.  I have actually covered 1378km since the start of the Tour which is a pretty crazy thought.  And the real Tour started in Utrecht today.  Thanks, wonderful wife for sorting out the series record for me.

Today was a lovely ride through Brittany, finishing on the Mur de Bretagne, a 3rd cat climb.  Have to say that it wasn’t that tough, my local climb up Ashbury Hill is tougher.  Very enjoyable day riding the roads that were the training ground of Bernard Hinault.

 

Amount raised for William Wates Memorial Trust so far:  £3531.  If you would like to increase this amount, please use this link to my charity page.  I will personally thank you in the next post.

Stage 7

Day 7 stats

Saddle time for today – 7 hour 5 minutes

Saddle time cumulative – tbc

Today I rode with Mark Steen’s sister, Mandy Martin.  I met and rode with Mark at both the Training Weekends in Sheffield and Cheltenham.  It is incredible humbling that Mandy has turned up to ride a couple of stages, despite Mark’s horrendous injuries sustained a week before the start.  My thoughts are with you Mark, and your sister did you proud.  It was a pretty hot day, but again lovely.

If the Tour comes through your village, it seems like a carte blanche to put spray up any old bike that you may have lying around in the yard and put it on the roadside.  I have literally seen thousands of them.

One of the thousands of painted bikes at the roadside.
One of the thousands of painted bikes at the roadside.

Amount raised for William Wates Memorial Trust so far:  £3531.  If you would like to increase this amount, please use this link to my charity page.  I will personally thank you in the next post.