Thursday, 22 October 2009

Fat boy to fit boy

Hi and welcome to my blog. my first ever blog. I hope you enjoy reading it on my journey over the next 9 months to complete the biggest challenge of my life.

I have entered the 2010 Etape du Tour. For those of you thinking, what the hell is that, it is a stage of next year's Tour de France. As usual the organizer's have picked probably the hardest stage of the race for us mere mortals to "have a go". It is in the Pyrenees and starts from Pau and winds it's way through the mountains and finishes on top of the Col du Tourmalet 174Kms later. To give you you an idea of the heights of these mountains, the first one at 1,035m is approximately 50m smaller than Mount Snowdon in Wales. the last one, Tourmalet at 2,115m is nearly twice Snowdon's height.

It is very well run. Roads are shut off, there are feed stations for you to replenish your supplies. They even have the dreaded "Broom Wagon". This is a coach that follows the race and if you drop too far behind and do not make certain time elimination points, will take you in comfort all the way to the finish.

I said race. Now I think I speak on behalf of the majority of Etaper's that it will only be a race to those few hundred at the front of the "peleton". To the rest of us it is about just finishing. It's about sheer guts, determination. the willing to get to the finish before being swept up by the Broom Wagon. To say yes, I was there and I DID IT.
What's my reason for doing this. Well I have always enjoyed watching the cycling on the TV. I went on a stag do to Lloret de Mar earlier this year and on the first morning I woke up and heard all this commotion and yelling coming from the street. On further investigation ie making myself presentable and opening the curtains, I was greeted with the sight of a time trial going right past the hotel. I quickly got dressed and camera in hand went out to view this spectacle.
I had an enjoyable morning walking the course and watching the opening prologue of the Tour du Catalunia. Thor Hushvold won that day by the way. Since then I watched every mile of the Tour de France on the TV and in August we went on a family holiday to Spain and after the first week was over, the wife and kids went home(they had to go back to work and school) I stayed on for an extra week and watched a couple of stages of the Vuelta de Spania.
By now I was hooked and when I got home I bought a lovely racing bike off of eBay and all the bits and pieces to go with it.
In my teens I used to ride a lot, but then adulthood took over and I'm ashamed to say it, but over the last 25 years I have let myself go a bit. I drink, smoke and the only exercise I do is walking to the car. So is this the new me. I hope so. At 6"1' and 103Kgs, I'm hoping that over the next 9 months I can get my body back into shape enough to get me over those mountains.

I have already started training. It started off with 10 mile rides.I used to get back home, fall off the bike and be hardly able to walk up the garden path. I even went out for a Sunday ride with the local racing Club and after about 3 miles and 3 big hills later with them all waiting at the top of the 3rd climb I had to admit defeat and say perhaps I'm not quite ready for you boy's yet, I will follow at my pace. Off they sprinted in a cloud of dust with me turning around and slowly returning back to my car. I'm now going out a couple of times a week with my mate Dave and the last couple of weeks we have upped our ride distance to 30 miles. the training is definitely working as I can now walk normally up the garden path when I get home.
I need to pack the fags in though. I think I'm known as a serial quitter. I have tried so many times that Glaxosmithkline share's rocket when a rumour breaks that I'm about to have another go. Well this time I am trying this new wonder drug, Champix. I have my first weeks course which will start next week when I am on holiday from work. I cannot start before as being a train driver I have to go a week without driving to make sure I do not suffer from any side effects. So I start taking the tablets next Monday and my quit day will be the following Monday the 3rd. let's hope I can do it this time.
I need to if I have any hope of completing next years Etape.

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