We did it!
We have been back from the Tour for about 2 weeks and its been busy! What with being straight back to work, changing jobs, watching the Olympics and catching up with everyone I have only just had time to write my final blog.
Cycling the Tour with the rest of the ODA team was an amazing experience. We knew it was going to be hard as the race had been touted as the steepest Tour for years. However, there were additional unexpected challenges along the way – like getting the flu 2 days before the prologue! I was therefore hoping for an easy start to recover but unfortunately I didn’t get that. The Tour started hard with the first stage being 120-something miles into a 40kph headwind – it was definitely not fun and the long straight roads and flat terrain were pretty monotonous. By a few days in I was definitely feeling much better and looking forward to the mountains. The weather here bought its own challenges. This included extreme heat (38 degrees) resulting in molten tar in the roads and treacherous mountain descents. On the following day, things changed dramatically and torrential rain caused a 30 degree drop in temperature, visibility down to 50 metres and mild hypothermia all round. Despite that, the mountains were a highlight for me. The scenery was fantastic and it was great to ride up some famous climbs like the Tourmalet which is steeped in Tour history and the road emblazoned with famous names (as well as ours!).
The climbs were packed with fans who had camped out for days on end waiting for the pros to come by the following day and there was no shortage of support for us either with people offering drinks, clapping, cheering “allez, allez, allez”, or joking about how we were a day early. I did have one very surreal moment when climbing up toward Peyragudes, tired, dehydrated and having a low point, a British voice shouted some words of encouragement. I looked up to see Bradley Wiggins. Obviously it wasn’t him but in my fatigued state it took a brief moment before I realised it was a fan wearing a Wiggins mask! The support for Wiggins was absolutely phenomenal and his achievement at the Tour and then the Olympics is just incredible.
Anyway, none of this would have been possible without the support from a lot of people. I am not going to name everyone because there are just too many people and I am sure I would forget someone! Needless to say our support crew were absolutely fantastic. What with driving, cooking, cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping etc etc their days were just as long and hard as ours and we really couldn’t have done it without you so thank you very much (especially Sara and Richard!!). But also thanks to our commercial sponsors. Physioworld have been absolutely amazing. The whole team was impressed by the quality of the Physios in all the different clinics round the country that we had sessions in during the build up to the Tour. This ensured that we all got to the start injury free. Lisa Jelly represented Physioworld on the Tour and provided physiotherapy for us every evening after the stage to help recovery and keep on top of any niggles. Sometimes the evening became the middle of the night especially after long stages associated with a long transfer for the next day. And sometimes the pressure of time meant that sessions were in unusual locations. We finished on the Champs Elysees on the Saturday afternoon and because Mick was racing the National Cross Country Mountain Bike race on the Sunday we headed back to England fairly soon after finishing in Paris. In order for Mick to get a physio session in before the race Lisa had to set up her physio couch in an empty carriage on the train in the Eurotunnel – now that’s commitment for you and reflects how amazing Physioworld have been in the build up to the Tour and during it.
Chris had a lot of trouble with his feet early on but Lisa’s hard work meant that there was never any doubt that he would be able to finish. Thanks to Lisa and Physioworld we all managed to cycle every single mile of the Tour and finished feeling fit and healthy rather than broken!
A special thanks also has to go to High5 Sports nutrition. As a team we were unanimous that they have the best sports nutrition products on the market so we were absolutely delighted when they agreed to sponsor us. They provided us with pallet loads of nutrition for training before the Tour and for the event itself.
The gels, bars, 4:1 and recovery drinks were all essential to getting in enough calories, limiting muscle breakdown and recovering as well as possible for the next day.
Without everyones support we wouldn’t have been able to achieve what we have. Its been an absolutely amazing experience and we have raised a lot of money for charity. Jamie has been responsible for co-ordinating and collecting all the offline fundraising and I am sure he will be posting up a final figure in the near future. In the meantime if you haven’t yet sponsored us but would like to support Lymphoma and Leukaemia research please click the link below to get to the Virgin Money Giving Page…….
Thank you everyone for all your support. Maybe the next challenge will be the RAAM. Hope you enjoy the pics below.