MARK POWER

Global Fishing, Adventures & Pissfit Tours

France Cycle Tour – St Malo to Montpellier

This is what kicked it all off – my middle age fitness and adventure life reset. It was very late one night when I was sharing a fourth bottle of red wine with my mate Nick Hamilton in Marlow in the Thames Valley. The girls were sat asleep and we were chewing the fat as usual. Nick mentioned that he had an upcoming cycle across France, and not only that I found out that he had completed several multi-day European cycle tours. I simply couldn’t believe that Nick and his mates were able to complete such a huge physical challenge – isn’t this sort of stuff for athletes?

Then it happened, Nick mentioned that there was a spare spot in the upcoming tour and asked whether I would like to get involved. I immediately slapped my hand on the table and said ‘I’M IN’! Waking up hungover the next day I was not in any mode of regret, but I was excited at the prospect at throwing myself at this challenge – this was way beyond my known limits.

At that time is was 97kgs, going to the gym a few times a week and maybe going for the odd run, but nothing could have prepared me for the amazing journey that I was about to embark on and change my life outlook.

I went to the bike shop and got fully kitted out with everything I need for the sport of road cycling and got training. Richie Bray was my guide showing me the ropes of the road cycle scene in South West London and Surrey and helping me on my winter training regime. My first ride was 40kms, which I struggled with, then it increased to 55, 65, 75 and then I got to the the magical 100km. Within 5 weeks I rode a 118km ride which I would not have thought achievable. What else is possible?

Then the time came for the challenge I signed up for – a 1000km multi-day cycle your across France, from St Malo in Brittany to Montpellier on the Mediterranean. We hopped on the ferry from Portsmouth to St Malo and a great adventure and physical challenge lay ahead.

Some of the highlights of our French oddysey:

– copping an intense storm at the end of day one, you could not see more than 5 metres in front of you
– being pulled over by the cops after losing our way and ending up in a motorway ‘are you crazy?’ they asked
– being support by Stefan in the van, a 5 star chef and all round great guy, nothing was too hard logistically and without him it would to have been as good an experience
– climbing 4,500mtrs on day 3 – was this part of the itinerary?
– descending the Col du Tarn with minimal warm gear, by the time we hit the bottom we were close to hypothermic
– the final decent into Montpellier, it became warm and you could see the Mediterranean from the top, you could smell the sea
– the 14 hour drinking session to wrap up the tour

Will and Hammo joking around as usual

Hydrating prior to the big ride, the guide was looking scary

Blade 1 all around please

Shenanigans on the ferry crossing the channel to St Malo

Kitted up and prepping our bikes for day 1 out of St Malo

Our first pit stop. one of many Stefan helped us with

Some cross-country traversing was required to connect to the B roads

One of Stefan’s awesome roadside lunches

 

About 160kms into a 185km first day of rain and headwind, will it ever end?

Kicking off day 2 optimistically

That’s a Rottweiler at the end of the driveway wondering who is pissing on his turf

Riding down the Loire into an almighty headwind

Will and I at the back of the peloton as always

Trying to work out where the hell we are

A welcome break, what would we do without you Stefan?

The start of another big 180km+ day

Another French village

A Stefan lunch

Welcome calories

Yeah, we know where we are going

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The boys at the end of another long day – A.B. Neil, Will, me, Crafty and Hammo

Cooling off

Lunch on the big climbing day

French government paving the way for us

Neil and I getting motivated for the big 1hr climb ahead

A little frazzled at the end of a 4,500mtr climbing day

Warming up in the van after a 30min decent in freezing conditions, we were nearly hypothermic

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This entry was posted on June 15, 2009 by in Boys Fun, Cycling, Mountains and tagged , , .

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