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!).

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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.

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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.

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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…….

http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-web/fundraiser/showFundraiserProfilePage.action?userUrl=onedayahead

Thank you everyone for all your support. Maybe the next challenge will be the RAAM. Hope you enjoy the pics below.

Adnan

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The final few days in pictures

ride report 3: the final week

Sunday 15 July: Stage 15 Samatan – Pau

After a day in the mountains, you expect a so-called sprint stage to be easy. Well, not exactly easy, but certainly more manageable. But the rolling course, never really flattening out, was definitely a tough one, especially when battling against a 30mph headwind. Eventually, though, the team rolled into Pau, relishing the prospect of not only a rest day but the luxury of starting the next stage from the same town. Definitely an evening for a beer or two – oh and that essential massage from Lisa, who waits patiently all day before she can begin work.

Monday 16 July: Rest Day 2

So, just hanging out at a lovely sunny campsite on the outskirts of Pau. A bit of training to keep the legs in trim but a chance to relax and enjoy the fact that Paris is only five days away. Well that’s if you can ignore the ogre of the Col du Tourmalet casting its menacing shadow over the team camp…

Tuesday 17 July: Stage 16 Pau – Bagnères de Luchon

You might prefer to go round it but you have to go over it. A really tough day in the saddle: more blistering heat, and the team were ‘pedalling in squares’, to use a French expression. The giant Tourmalet has intimidated Tour riders 47 times in the history of the race but somehow its stunning views and the enthusiasm of the crowds already gathering for the following day helped keep up the spirits of the One Day Ahead adventurers.  And one really nice touch when the guys were taking a break: a stranger came over to them to say he’d heard about what they were doing and to wish them well for the last few stages. That’s cycling camaraderie for you.

Wednesday 18 July: Stage 17 Bagnères de Luchon – Peyragudes

Now, Tour riders have occasionally been seen to cut off a hairpin bend by scrabbling across the grass or to go the wrong way round a piece of traffic furniture, so let’s hope today’s diversion won’t get One Day Ahead disqualified. After all, if they hadn’t done a detour around the Col de Peyresourde they might have cycled straight into the Peloton coming in the opposite direction! Well, that would certainly have got them some news coverage…

So the mountains (‘shedloads’ of them) are over and only three stages remain. No more manic descents though. Shame, because Mick managed to clock 86.7kmph coming off the Col d’Aubisque on Tuesday. Happy days!

Thursday 19 July: Stage 18 Blagnac – Brive la Gaillarde

The second longest stage of the race, but not such a daunting prospect when you have Paris in your sights. Having said that, one thing you realise when you follow the three weeks of the Tour is that riders can count themselves pretty lucky if they get through it without contracting any nasty bugs. The One Day Ahead team had been doing pretty well in this respect… until today. Adnan woke up to find himself feeling decidedly under the weather but, undeterred and with a bit of judicious pace-setting from the others, cycled the full 222km as planned.  After 3,000km already travelled, this makes you think about the true meaning of determination…

Friday 20 July: Stage 19 Bonneval – Chartres

The second time trial, and the team were taking it easy – and why not? Job almost done, who wouldn’t want to relax a bit and enjoy the French countryside?

Saturday 21 July: Stage 20 Rambouillet – Paris Champs Elysées

Yes, they’ve done it, and have stood in the shadow of the Arc de Triomphe sipping champagne…

But this was Jamie’s gig so I’m going to leave him to have the final word – once he’s had a few days to recover, that is.

Meanwhile, huge congratulations to the whole team – riders and the support group – for an incredible achievement. Any plans for next year?!

Ride report 2: from the Alps to the Pyrenees

Monday 9 July: Rest Day 1

Q: What do you do on your first rest day when you’re cycling the Tour de France one day ahead?

A: Watch other people cycling, of course!

A relaxing day spent in Arc et Senans watching the pros warm up and set off on the Time Trial… Couldn’t miss Wiggo in his yellow skin suit! Then a good opportunity for some extra pummelling from Lisa. Think they’re all agreed about what a difference it’s made having her as part of the One Day Ahead support team.

Tuesday 10 July: Stage 10 Mâcon – Bellegarde sur Valserine

The fab four had to grit their teeth this morning knowing they were to face the uncategorised climb of the Col du Grand Colombier – but not until they’d already pedalled over 130km. ‘Brutal’ – Jamie’s adjective – it certainly was. Tired legs took their toll on everyone – but by the time they were on the descent, they had also passed the halfway marker for the entire Tour, and that’s enough to lift anyone’s spirits, isn’t it?

Wednesday 11 July: Stage 11 Albertville – La Toussuire

Today’s adjective, selected by Mick, was ‘gruesome’. Well, he freely admits he’s not built like a climber, but even seasoned grimpeurs would draw a deep breath at the prospect of this unrelenting series of four stiff climbs. Not the longest stage at 148km but inch for inch probably the slowest so far. So what happened? Well, they just got stuck in, climbed at their own pace, waited for each other at the bottom of each descent and somehow, 7.5 hours later, reached La Toussuire.  Chapeau!

Thursday 12 July: Stage 12 Saint Jean de Maurienne – Annonay Davézieux

The longest stage of the entire Tour at 226km, with two Category 1 climbs in the first 80km. (The following day Cav remarked that the first half of this stage was ‘as close to hell as you can get’!) Hardly surprising then that the team ‘grovelled’ (Mick’s word!) up the Col du Granier. With the descent out of the way, they hit a psychological low, the first time they’d really felt the One Day Ahead challenge could get the better of them. It was 4pm CET and there was still nearly 140km to cycle… But somehow they picked themselves up, dusted themselves down, and managed to average 35kph over the next 110km, after which they ‘flew up’ the Category 3 Côte d’Ardoix and rolled over the finish line with a collective sigh of relief.

Friday 13 July: Stage 13 Saint Paul Trois Châteaux – le Cap d’Agde

A very different stage – mainly pretty flat, but with strong headwinds to contend with along the coast and blistering sunshine bearing down on the riders. (Adnan well in the lead, apparently, in the tan lines competition.) Mick put in some big turns on the front and the completion of this particular stage meant two-thirds of the total distance was now behind them…

This might be a good point to mention FOOD! Just in case anyone was wondering, yes they have been stopping en route to re-fuel. Great logistical work by the support team to make sure sandwiches, pizza, energy drinks and bars were available in the motor homes at the rendezvous points. Forget the distant figure waving a musette – look out for the mobile diners!

Saturday 14 July: Stage 14 Limoux – Foix

The Alps were tough… but then came the Pyrenees. Certainly the worst day yet as far as the weather was concerned, this stage really was horrific. For a start, there were the headwinds, the lashing rainstorms, poor visibility and chilling temperatures. Jamie and Adnan had a crash (no injuries, thanks goodness) and Adnan broke a wheel. And then there was The Wall… the 1,375m Mur de Péguère which boasts some 18% gradients.  But hey, the end is in sight: one more week and Jamie, Chris Adnan and Mick should be negotiating the mad Parisian traffic. Surely that’s a thought to keep you going for six more stages…

 

Ride report 1: from the Prologue to the Stage 9 Time Trial

Written by Kim (Mick’s sister-in-law) at Race HQ UK…

Friday 29 June: The Prologue

Those pioneering cyclists on the first Tours over a hundred years ago would have been used to riding after dark and our four One Day Ahead riders had a taste of what that was like when they cycled the 6.4 km prologue at 10.30pm on Friday night. Must have been a good feeling for Jamie, Chris, Adnan and Mick, though, having spent all day travelling from Surrey to Liège, including getting stuck in Le Tunnel, to finally get those bikes out on the Belgian cobbles…

Saturday 30 June: Stage 1 Liège – Seraing

Has the Team Sky bus ever broken down?! The One Day Ahead team are travelling with two motor homes and MH1 (motor home 1) has already got stuck in the campsite mud and blown its fuses into the bargain!

Some serious cycling to do today, a big loop out from Liège and taking in the Braque de Fraiture, the highest point in Belgium (a massive 606m!!). A good first stage as our intrepid team of four pedalled fairly happily the 198km through the Ardennes where 198 pros would soon follow in their wake. ..

Sunday 1 July: Stage 2 Visé – Tournai

One or two legs aching a bit this morning, so thank goodness for the presence of Lisa from Physioworld, who’s travelling with the team for the full three weeks.

A flatter course than yesterday, but the open terrain and the headwinds made it much harder work, and riding in an echelon is not really an option when you’ve got to share the road with other vehicles.  So 7 hours 40 minutes is an impressive time to complete the stage’s 207.5 km.

Monday 2 July: Stage 3 Orchies – Boulogne-sur-Mer

Some steep climbs and narrowing roads are likely to cause problems for the peloton, but are much easier to negotiate when there are only four of you… so Jamie and Chris decided to have a collision on a roundabout instead! No real harm done, thankfully, and the expert ministrations of Lisa soon got them back into shape.

Despite the crash, this was a much better day for the One Day Ahead team than Stage 2, largely due to the fact the wind dropped. They even managed to stay together going up those climbs!

Tuesday 3 July: Stage 4 Abbeville – Rouen

Hopes for today were that a tail wind might assist the team as they cycled south-west along the coast, enjoying some fabulous scenery. Even better, they were helped along for much of the day by some Dutch cyclists. Good companions – although they might have mentioned they knew exactly where the line was… which meant Mick had to be content with coming second in the sprint finish! Oh well, no green jersey for him.

If you believe in good omens, spotting a sign to the Jacques Anquetil Gymnasium when they reached Rouen would count as one.  A perfect place to park MH1 and MH2 for the night.

And another Rouen bonus – no overnight transfer. Shame they’ll have left the city long before the pros arrive. So far the only pro sighting has been a glimpse of Thomas Voeckler in Liège!

Wednesday 4 July: Stage 5 Rouen – Saint Quentin

A fairly fast stage today thanks to a flattish course and some tail winds – the support team in the motor homes were even a bit concerned about keeping up! A good moment in fact to mention the brilliant work the support team have been doing, busy all day long with life’s essentials: preparing food, fetching water and emptying the loo!

Highlight of Mick’s day: putting on a sprint and making a speed camera show 91 kph! Erm, think that was an error as it then corrected itself to 56 kph – not a speed to be sniffed at though.

Thursday 5 July: Stage 6 Epernay – Metz

Oh dear, in champagne territory… but too much work to do to be distracted by the fizz.  And it did seem like hard work today, the rough road surfaces making it heavy going at times. Mick’s calorie calculator (like the speed camera, also prone to inaccuracy) totalled 7,750 calories expended in cycling 207km.

But a significant milestone (kilometre stone?) passed somewhere along the route today – a third of the total miles already cycled.  Good to have something positive to prepare you for the following day’s Category 1 climb…

Friday 6 July: Stage 7 Tomblaine – La Planche des Belles Filles

A dramatic finale to today’s stage on the category 1 climb of La Planche des Belles Filles, with some shockingly steep gradients to conquer. ‘Way harder than Alpe d’Huez’ was Mick’s description, which gives you some idea of what it was like if you’re familiar with that particular challenge. But they got to the top more or less together and in one piece – the summit where less than 24 hours later Bradley Wiggins would acquire his first yellow Tour de France jersey. Nice!

Saturday 7 July: Stage 8 Belfort – Porrentruy

Seven massive climbs today… While the One Day Ahead team were tackling what Cav described as one of the two stages this year ‘that have me nervous’, a drama was unfolding for Sara and Richard, the support team of MH2, desperately seeking some new front tyres for their motor home. Not an easy thing to come by in France on a Saturday afternoon: it took them all day to find a small independent garage which could help them out. Meanwhile, the 1DA cyclists struggled manfully to the end of the stage. Jamie’s tweet said it all: ‘ridiculous watching Brad Wiggins fly up the same climbs we crawled up…’  But crawling or flying, they’re on target for an amazing achievement.

Sunday 8 July: Stage 9 Arc et Senans – Besançon

A 41.5km time-trial stage today, so the support team decided to down tools and jump on their bikes too.  Richard has requested special mention as a guest rider. What Sara (Mick’s long-suffering wife) said about her experience is best not reported.

So the first rest day tomorrow. A chance to take stock and a deep breath for the next three mountain stages. Allez One Day Ahead!

Photo update

Hi Guys Apologises for the delay. full report tomorrow coming on the rest day. For now here are a few photos of the last few days!!  

Stage 1….

We are writing this blog from inside the winnebego that we have been stuck in (due to being badly stuck in the mud & breaking a fuse) for the past 2 days. That being said, it’s been a tale of two halves. The riders have had an incredibly successful time so far. I wish we could say the same for our traveling home. It got well stuck in the mud the first night, and managed to stay in that position for the next 2 nights. The fuse died, so VAC came out, fixed it, got it out of the mud with us 3 girls pushing it out, turned off the engine, left, then when we were all ready to go, nothing happened. The motorhome was completely dead. So we are waiting for the guy to come back and save us.
On to more important things, it was off to a rocky start when there was an electrical fault on the train that delayed us by an hour. After driving several hours, we finally arrived to our campsite in Leige. The riders started the prologue ride at 10:30am. We had lots of arranging and getting settling in to do, so needless to say, we didn’t get to bed early the first night.
The morning of Stage 1 as expected, got off to a late start. We are hoping that with time, we can get a system going that works well & efficiently, as of now, we are yet to find that system. The 4 guys and Gaby set off on their bikes at 12:30am. The hot and sunny 198 km ride from Liege to Seraing, which is basically a big loop, was mostly flat and surprisingly had been sign posted for the entire ride. Sara and Richard were the support vehicle that day and met them twice with sandwiches, drinks, fruit, etc. Gaby stayed with the guys for 45 miles (impressive!!). They all arrived back at the campsite around 9pm in good spirits! The evening concluded with pasta and painful physio by Lisa (and blowing a fuse in the motorhome). She said they are all in good condition right now, which is very encouraging! All of the hard and intense training seems to be paying off.
In the meantime, the VAC came back to fix the fuse. It’s not a permanent fix, as we have to take it to a garage first thing tomorrow to get it properly fixed. But we are on the way to Orchies where we will meet the gang and stay for the night. The riders will be riding 207 long but flat kilometers from Liege to Tournal. So far, only minor setbacks have happened for the overall supporting team. But we have managed to keep the riders going. Let’s hope they stay strong and healthy so they can complete this huge challenge they have set out for, which wouldn’t be possible without the sponsors of Chain Reaction, High Five and Muc Off. Stay tuned for more updates from One Day Ahead!

We Have Take Off……

The launch party that was at ‘Look Mum No Hands ‘ in Old street London. Was such a fantastic venue, Band well EVENT!!! we arrived set up our kit which was a lot easier than I thought it would be, as the café is so well equipped and is full of great medium and bikes, which meant that we didn’t need to use all of our banners.  

We had a brilliant turn out of friends and family which was great overall it turned into a really good awareness evening and well a great party. Personally I totally forgot at about 10 that I was meant to be helping and got into the dancing area…what can I say the band ere just brilliant!!!! I cannot big them up enough!! I can’t wait to hear them at another event. Thank you Midnight Funk Orchestra.

The week that followed the party was absolute mayhem! Jamie’s bike arrived and well looked like it had been put together by monkeys. Thankfully George (Sigma’s star man) managed to work his magic and put her in a great working order.

Gaby’s Bike we picked up on Thursday evening from EBay having had hers stolen the week before! There was a mad panic to make it up to top spec very quickly!! Her Hero’s were Velosport in Putney.

Having got the bikes sorted the DVLA were the next ‘mountain’ in our way…turns out that Gaby is not allowed to drive abroad (or in England for that matter) due to a license problem which meant we were a driver down!! Thankfully the DVLA are very efficient and are on the case already with sorting out her license so that hopefully she can do some driving later on. Also one of the Motor homes had a lil problem before we left so Mick and Sara had to revert back to their original motor home.

Having the Homes filled with Muc- off, High Five and a Physio (the lovely Lisa) they were as ready as they will ever be.

Having been up pretty early doors on Friday I waved them off….. More than ready to join them next week with fresh legs and fresh supplies!!

Cycling Active Article

Cycling Active have very kindly written a piece on the boys doing the Tour!!

It’s a great read and gives you a fab insite as to how they felt about it all a couple of months ago!

They are available in any Whsmiths if you need some commuter reading material!

http://www.cyclingactive.com/news/cycling-active-summer-2012-issue-on-sale-from-wednesday