Sunday, 22 July 2012

All Or Nothing

Today marks a few things: the end of the Tour de France with enormous British success, as well as four weeks until having hopefully finished the first day of my own version of Le Tour and it is also two years since our friend Linda Wright passed away  because of cancer. Wrighty is gone but still remembered...

Bradley Wiggins was assured of victory today so it made some kind of sense to pay a tribute to him by checking out the mural of the man himself on the wall of one of his local pubs (makes him sound like a dipso) in his adopted town of Ecclestone in sunny Lancashire.

Oh no- the 'Visit Lancashire' tourist shots have begun!

On the way there I accidentally gate-crashed about 10 miles of an IronMan UK triathlon: definitely a Gump/Zelig moment, hah-hah! To be fair, they were riding on closed roads that led right past the pub that I was headed to, so...
Mind you, I got some filthy looks from a few competitors as I passed them, complete with panniers and mudguards. Cue a Nelson Muntz style "Ha ha!".

Those knee-length socks do look a bit warm. Ha-ha!

At the pub I asked a photographer Johnny to take a cheesy photo for this blog and it turns out that he was covering the IronMan event for 'The Sun' redtop-rag. despite hailing from Liverpool. Go figure...

Wiggo! I salute you. With Coca-Cola. And a 'Sun' photographer from Liverpool. My top firmly kept on. Mercy!

In other news: I seem to be ahead of the game training-wise because I have got my 'tapering' (when proper athletes wind-down their efforts prior to the big event) out of the way early-doors. This was achieved by spending a couple of days at The Open and also visiting health-conscious Dublin to see two brilliant back-to-back Springsteen shows.
So, it is back to the bike, and on the bike I stay for the forseeable. Oh hang on, courtesy of m'learned colleague Ms. Hewitt I get to see Cav tear along The Mall next Saturday to hopefully win the bloke's road race for Team GB. As you may have seen earlier today the fellow is blessed with a respectable turn of pace, no?

One other item of nonsense that I should bring to your attention is that a certain Alain 'Le Professeur' Prost ex-F1 World Champion has also signed-up for the Haute Route which forms the first six days of my challenge. Apparently the 53 year old is not only blessed with a big hooter but is a cycling fanatic and is as fit as le fiddle. He would be...
Wonder if I should steer him into a hay bale and say that's from Senna? Probably not.

Seeing as how me and my new best mate Prosty will be cycling up some frankly stupidly long and steep bits of tarmac I reckoned it might be an idea to lower my gearing even further: I offer praise to the boffins at Shimano for making a 12T-30T cassette. Seriously chaps, you're getting a Christmas card this year. Shinto or not, it's the least I can do.

As clean as that cassette'n'chain will ever be. Agent 30/30 rides!

One final word of thanks to people who haven't hesitated in sponsoring me again: cliche or not, it makes all this worth it and is a terrific motivation.
What I didn't expect was backing from overseas folks: how about the U.S.A. and Ukraine? Just brilliant behaviour. Thank you Natalia, Marge and two alumni from last year's trip, namely Lee and Chris C.. Cheers!

                            Wiggo, you have taste. And enormous sideys.

Although I hate banging on about it, here are the stats again:

- We climb 120,000 feet over the 11 days. That is more than the 2012 Tour de France will climb in 21 days!

-  In 11 days we cycle over 330 uphill miles at an average 8% gradient: that's the same distance as London to Glasgow!

- To put some perspective on all this, Mount Everest stands at 29000 feet. On day 3 we climb 15000 feet. Eh, hang on...

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