Well after nearly 6 months i can finally post my concluding blog post for the Tour De France charity bike ride i completed in late July. I knew it was going to be tough and it lived up to the billing 100%.
I went through the full range of emotions over the 25 days of the event. From absolute joy to completing any of the stages to the absolute pain of the injuries i carried with me from about stage 6 onwards.
To me this is - if not the hardest event in the world. Yes you have a bike to ride but you must pedal the bike yourself. Sometimes you get a helping hand with a nice descent but then you have to think about staying alive going down a hill at 60 plus Kilometres per hour and for me on the opposite side of the road. One guy actually hit a car descending but thankfully he was ok.
The climbs were amazingly tough. I remembering climbing towards the Col d Izoard the highest point of the tour on what i wouldn't call a nice warm day. The climb up to the Col d Lautaret was shrouded in mist and the descent down from this was absolutely freezing. I remember riding into the lunch stop and it was the first time i saw people in absolute bits from the cold. Some decided not to ride on that day and ride in the warmth and comfort of the vans supporting everyone. I had come too far to stop now and quite frankly this adversity wasn't going to stop me now. This was nearly the last couple of days climbing before the time trial and the ceremonial ride into Paris.
I made it over the Col D Izoard and for the first time in the 25 days had multiple punctures - i think it was 5 or 6 in the last 10km climb to the summit. A great lesson to learn to check punctures with your fingers sometime the smallest cuts can do all the damage. You can't see them so you think everything is OK when i reality it isn't. A Km or so down the road you would have another puncture.
When i finally sorted this out there was an amazing descent through some beautiful countryside to a final Cat 1 climb to our rest stop. The following days went by in a bit of a blur but eventually we reached paris and the final ceremonial ride down the champs elysees to the Arc De Triomphe.
We went out for dinner that night and slept like a baby knowing i wouldn't have to get up at crazy o'clock and ride for another 10 hours.
The body then effectively shut down for a couple of weeks and i picked up a nice throaty cough that wanted to shake the living daylights out of me. I had major problems with my feet during the ride and feeling only came back in some of my toes after a couple of weeks.
Thankfully the feet are all good again from investing in some decent quality cycle shoes i am now back on the road. For anyone who has seen my amazingly high arches you would think i would have picked up on this earlier ;-)
The bike has been through some major servicing and to be honest has held up amazingly well for the punishment i put it through. It seems every 3000 or so kms i need a new rear cassette and brake pads. Tyres are replaced on a monthly basis ( approx 1500 kms ) so all in all everything is good.
On a final note i want to thank everyone for donating to the William Wates foundation and what a fantastic cause this is. The Wates family were out on the the road every supporting all the riders.
Also a thanks goes out to all the staff who supported the riders - the unsung heroes who patched us up , got us through the day and made sure everything ran as smoothly as possible. Without there help i wouldn't have finished at all.
Merry xmas and a happy new year to everyone and best wishes for 2015. If 2014 is anything to go by it is going to be one helluva year!
ps - I have signed up for next years tour so we can have all the fun again ; this time without so much pain !!!