Posted on, 6 March 2014
Jon's Pre-ride jitters
As I stood in my hallway at 05:40 this morning contemplating the huge pile of luggage, and how I was going to transport this to the station, I couldn't help but think that I hadn't really thought this cycling to Cannes lark all the way through. Anyway, having made the mile long walk to the station laden like the pack mule from Buckaroo, I am now sat on the train, thinking about the journey taken to get here and the challenges overcome by the team to make the start line for the event:
Myself - terrible logistics
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Steve - illness (suspected man flu)
James - complete lack of training and a gammy knee
Martin - no complaints received as yet, suspect this will become a feature for the cycling machine that is the man Emslie
Ian - an overzealous fellow cyclist locking their bike to his in the basement of 338 Euston Road, necessitating recourse to a bloke from the building team and a set of oxyacetylene bolt cutters.
And I spare a thought for those who weren't so lucky due to illness and injury, Chris and Evelyn.
Anyway, the time is nearly at hand, we will soon be departing on our grand adventure. Despite the fact I feel like that nameless redshirt security officer standing next to Captain Kirk on the unfamiliar alien planet - that is to say, cannon fodder - I am looking forward to it.
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Well, day one is complete
70 odd miles travelled in around 5.5 half hours, with just over 3,700 calories burned.
All of the Broadgate Estates riders came through unscathed - I counted them all out and I counted them all back in again - with a special guest appearance from Captain Awesome AKA Jim Campbell who joined us for the first 35 miles to Aylesford.
My bike remains in one piece, though I did lose my bottle somewhere in the vicinity of Tenterden. My calls to replace it with a bottle of the nearby Chapel Down vineyard's finest sadly fell on deaf ears with the ride captains.
Group riding appears to have a vernacular all of its own with copious hand signals and endless shouts to highlight obstacles ranging from the rather prosaic "hole" to the more colourful "squirrel" which is quite strange as it ripples down the line.
Off to France for food, drink and sleep. Oh and a little bit of cycling!
What a beautiful day for a cycle!
The waiting is over and we have begun the Broadgate Estates Cycle to Mipim 2014! The obligatory group photo shot was taken in front of tower brige and then we were off at 9 am sharp... looking pretty good in the event jerseys....a nice shade of lime green for team Broadgate Estates. The sun shone all day and apart from the odd puncture, chains coming off and dropped water bottle... (luckily Jon had a spare one but a hindrance for the unfortunate riders behind him), it appears to have gone to plan!
Posted on, 7 March 2014
James' highlights of the day
Ian and Steve appear to have caught the sun more than most. Ian's white legs have a tingle of pink clashing nicely with our tops..... and looking at the forecast there maybe a black market in sun cream very soon! We arrived in folkestone a little later than expected but a lot earlier and drier than last year!
As a late entry, I am just happy to be part of the team....many thanks to Briony, my Physio for getting me this far.
Tomorrow the hard work really starts...
Highlights of the day have included
NO rain and sunshine !
Nespresso coffee by the side of the road provided from the bus... but sadly it only lasted one stop before the machines were broken..
Team Broadgate Estates looking very daper in our branded Rapha jackets... at the envy of other riders
Broadgate Estates riders are doing well! Ian, Martin and Steve have cycled all 6 legs today.. which is 318km (circa 200 miles) and over 14 hours in the saddle. Jon has put in a sterling 3 legs and so far I have ridden the statutory 2 legs.
The guys are still looking fresh after their long stint
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Jon's commentary across Northern France
An early start to Day Two began with an 04:45 wake up call which I suspect found most of the 90 or so riders awake and waiting for breakfast. Having been warned that breakfast on this trip was a sight to behold I was still not quite ready for the frenzy that was 05:01 at the buffet bar of the Holiday Inn Calais - feel the glamour. Having grown up as one of three brothers the mantra of "if you don't eat fast you don't eat" served me well.
Posted on, 8 March 2014
Stuffed to the gunwales, I waddled out to see the riders on the early morning stage depart. Their numbers swollen from the prescribed 30 to almost 70 by a significant number of potential through riders - those who aim to ride every mile of every stage - including our very own Messrs Emslie, Tapper and Whyman, who are not as the name suggests a company of provincial solicitors, but potential cycling titans in the making. Only time will tell how many of them make it. However, given the completion rate of less than 20% on the through rider challenge last year the attrition rate may be high!
After a morning stuck in the hutch I was anxious to get out on my bike and actually put in a few miles.
Two stages down and 54 miles under the belt. Despite a slightly dark moment midway through my second stage where the cabbage fields seemed to be interminable, a quick energy bar made the last 15 miles of short easy climbs followed by sweeping runs into small French villages was really good fun.
The through riders are beginning to adopt the glassy eyed look of shopworn porcelain dolls. I imagine that by tomorrow the full on thousand yard stares will be in evidence.
My third stage of the day will present a new challenge as we take to the rural roads of northern France once again but with the added element of doing it all in the dark. Still, we have all been issued with the requisite PPE and will be fully bedecked in high viz so at least we will see the pile up before we join it! Late finish of 20:45 means it is likely to be dinner in the kit tonight, suspect that this should secure us a table of our own.
Breakfast was a sober affair as most people still looked asleep and the realisation of the task in hand began to dawn. We left the hotel in pitch black despite the best efforts of our cycle lights. The upside of being at the back of the peloton was watching the riders ahead as we snaked our way through the vineyards, to the left and right was blackness whilst ahead the lights reflected the high vis jackets and marked the route ahead. Those on the first leg were quickly rewarded as the sun rose over the Champagne vineyards - absolutely stunning view which makes all the hard effort worthwhile.
Although light it was still very cold so the Nespresso was very welcome at stop one.
The Broadgate Estates riders were still going strong although Steve was starting to see the attraction of the coach (possibly influenced by some wise words from his wife..)
At stop 2 Steve took the sensible option to retire gracefully... 500 km without a rest....fantastic effort Steve!!! Martin (the machine) and Ian are still there riding through. Jon has also increased his legs and is now adding in extras for fun. Due to less than ideal preparation I am saving myself for the last 2 days by completing the minimum, I am also trying to make myself useful as a domestique for the rest of the team!
Lunch was a beautiful stop in a quaint little French village... I have no idea where but somewhere between Rheims and Dijon. We are a bit of a rolling circus to the locals but they are always pleased to see us. We are greeted in every village and the local children cheer "Allez, Allez" as we ride past.... not quite the shouts we got in England!!!!
At stop 4 everything was going to plan until we noticed the coach looked a little lower on the ground than usual. After much head scratching and a number of failed attempts to free it from the soft verge a local farmer came to the rescue... hero of the day without question!
With the bus rescued the rest of the day passed by relatively uneventful... except the beer at the end of the day which was pure genius only tainted by the French sneaking a win in the rugby.
I would like to end today's update by trying to give you some idea of the reality (or brutality) for those riders riding every leg, so being an accountant here are a few numbers to consider for those rider’s achievements at the end of today:
· Cycled 750 km in 3 days, which is approximately London to Brighton, repeated 10 times
· Spent 34 hours in the saddle
· Burned approximately 2,1000 calories
· Most likely to of only had 12 hours sleep since we left
And since we are only half way, double everything above for those riders going the whole way! Now that’s seriously impressive. I have absolute respect for anyone considering the challenge. Those completing it leaves me in awe.
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Jon's ambitious riding day
Having survived the night stage which included a very exciting descent to our final stop of the day, it was another early start to Day 3. As James, Martin, Ian and Steve all headed out, I held the fort on the bus! Ostensibly to work on my strategy for the day ahead, but really in the hope of grabbing a bit more sleep.
As the riders returned from stage 1, I was ready to head out for a 50 odd kilometre stage, one of my compulsory 2 for the day. Having come through fairly unscathed I decided to ride on to the next stage - which subsequent research revealed to be the longest on the whole ride at 67.7 km. Steve wisely chose to sit this one out, while Ian and Martin pushed through. Unfortunately I got swallowed by the peloton pretty early on and ended up at the back of the group - down amongst the dead men. Being at the back is much harder due to the elastic band effect of changes on speed rippling through the group meaning you have to work hard to hold on. I got a chaperon up to mid pack along with a helping push from one of the ride captains - from what I can tell extreme hard core cyclists how Marshall the peloton, assist riders on trouble and offer excellent advice to the less experienced riders - c'est moi. The stage was brutal, long, hilly and unforgiving. The mode was briefly lightened by an angry French shopkeeper who for some reason objected to 40 odd cyclists materializing in his car park, not buying anything and shaping to relieve themselves. Why this spot, rather than the 35 km of open fame land we had just cycled through had been selected remains a mystery to me. Despite an excellent descent towards the end I was well and truly spent on arrival at the stage end.
My plans to ride through were rapidly reassessed and I spent a not inconsiderable amount of time on the bus with a massive sad on. However, following a stern talking to from myself and some impromptu off roading from our bus drivers we set out on stage 5, with the warming that if the bus misadventure could not be rectified we would need to ride all the way through the next two stages, another 90 km. Thankfully, my prayers were answered halfway through the stage when word arrived the bus had been freed, allowing me to enjoy the rest of the stage and spend a little time leading the peloton which was great fun. A closing descent was both scarey and exciting in equal measure. A good end to my day of mixed fortunes. While some brave souls pushed on for the final stage, James, Steve and I enjoyed a well-earned beer!
Posted on, 9 March 2014
Bakes by Jon's wife keep fuel levels up!
Day 4 started with the usual chaotic breakfast scenes as the hungry masses descended. The amount and volume of conversation notably cowed by the extended riding times that many have put in over the preceding 3 days.
This morning saw my compulsory first stage of the day ride - we all have to do one morning and one night stage on the ride. It was chuffing freezing despite the 3 - 4 layers of Lycra, but it proved to be a lovely smooth 55 km stage which was ideal to wake you up. As Martin said to me "it certainly beats the usual Sunday morning training ride". As an update on our through riders, at the time of writing both Ian and Martin remain on target, given the context of the last few days, this effort is nothing less than Herculean.
After my bonking incident of yesterday (I am reliable informed by the other riders that this is the term for the crashing low blood sugar moment as the body simply stops working due to lack of fuel) I have taken the decision to aim at 150 or so km today rather than pushing too hard. This has left me rather a lot of time to admire some of the other bikes on the trip. My trusty steed is an 8 year old Trek which one of the mechanics rather generously described as "retro" the other day - piece of old crap might have been more accurate. Still, the opportunities for "bike porn" are huge, look at the carbon on that and so forth. Makes you want to buy a new bike, just need to work on the cycling bit first!
On my second stage of the day we encountered a sniper in a French village which caused absolute carnage - punctures, spills, buckled wheels. Safe to say that the peloton was well and truly split by that one.
Have just rolled in from a night stage which included a descent where we hit 35 miles per hour in the dark. Pretty bloody scary at times, when you realise that you are going so fast that if you fall off you are essentially going to die, so the only option is don't fall off! All good fun.
In news from home my daughter Eliza, who is almost 2 and had helped my wife bake lots of supplies for the trip, seems to think I am at some kind of intercontinental bike based flapjack eating competition - apparently she keeps saying "Daddy eating flapjack, cycling France." over and over again. A fairly succinct summary from the young lady I think.
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James' feeling good for a final push!
I have just spent the last 2 hours cycling in the dark, chasing a high
vis jacket in front of me whilst also trying to concentrate on the road, just about lit by cycle lights... fortunately mostly downhill.
Posted on, 11 March 2014
Sorry Mike (Thornton) but I have tell you that sunburn is a serious concern this year... slightly different to being washed away last year!
The Broadgate Estates riders are still going strong, led by Ian and Martin who just won’t stop.
Yes they are having some ups and downs but they both look remarkably good. It’s difficult to know precise numbers but it looks like it could be a record number of people riding every stage this year.
Steve and Jon are riding multiple stages for fun and enjoying the sunshine and scenery which is improving by the day as we head south. If you haven't looked already check out the best 10 photos from each day on the cycle to website http://cycle-to.org/
Surprisingly, but mainly thanks to the amazing work of the travelling physios my pre start injuries (and lack of fitness) are improving every day, so I am hoping to pick up where I left off a year ago and add a few extra stages tomorrow.
Sleep deprived, energy bars galore and realistic decisions
Day 5 dawned with me feeling like death, utterly washed out and aching in parts that I didn't know I had parts. I think the mileage, the lack of sleep and the constant shovelling in of energy bars and food has sent my body into revolt. This saw me taking the executive decision to ride my minimum stages only today to save something for tomorrow. Resisting the siren song which beckons you onto the rocks "just ride through one more stage, you’re feeling good, you can make it" - that way desolation lies.
This meant missing out in a stage nicknamed "the gorge" due to a great descent down between the towering rocks on either side of you. One for next time perhaps. This decision saw me join only 4 other riders back on the hutch, which was a little embarrassing. Still discretion is the better part of valour so they say.
James and I seem to be on opposite trajectories today, while I am on the down he is on the up and pushing to complete four stages, having been advised to rest his injury as far as possible up to now. He is flying and really enjoying himself today. Ian and Martin continue to push for the ride through honours, I think they have the scent of Cannes in their nostrils now and only major disaster can hold them at bay. I hope that the God's of fortune are on their side, they thoroughly deserve them to be.
For my own part, it has dawned on me that for a lot of the people on this ride cycling is their life. When they are not at work they are on their bikes, I have even heard that one of the ride captains regularly attends meetings in full Lycra! While this is a step too far for me. I think that my level of training has left something to be desired - I was chatting to one chap this morning who was targeting completing only his minimum stages (still around 560 km in 6 days) and he said that he felt under prepared doing around 130 to 160 km a week commuting. I do about 50 km per week, on a Brompton.
Still, it is not all bad by any stretch of the imagination, I have discovered that the peloton can be a place of great humour, particularly of the gallows kind. During a long slow climb on yesterday evening's stage a rider developed a nose bleed, which he would later claim was caused by low flying bat that nobody had called. As he beseeched the masses for a tissue his calls fell on deaf ears, until one rider piped up with "I've got a couple of twixs you could use, they are out of the wrapper and everything." As the Monty Python once said, always look on the bright side of life.
Tomorrow we head for the finish line in Cannes, cycling immortality awaits for some, for others a nice cold beer, for all a job well done.
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James's determination to crack Day 5
As some of you may remember, last year I got to the end of day 4 and then broke myself (I won't bore you with the details but it wasn't pleasant). Due to the lack of training this year’s goal was to get to day 5 and then pick up where I left off and complete the unfinished business. So far so good... I woke up this morning feeling a little stiff but raring to go.
I have spent 7.5 hours in the saddle and racked up 110 miles hitting a top speed of 40 mph.
It has probably been my best days cycling that I have ever had, and although I am absolutely shattered, I am well chuffed.
Haring down the gorge for 10km made the long climb up worth it, and will be a lasting memory of this charity adventure. (It's not a holiday by any stretch of the imagination)
Steve is still picking off the extra stages for fun. Jon has realised the scale of the challenge and very sensibly managed the situation today... Hopefully back on song tomorrow.
Posted on, 11 March 2014
Martin is still a machine...
Ian is still hanging in there and I don't think he will mind if I note that at points today it was by his finger nails. He seriously considered getting off and throwing his bike away, but he didn't and I wish him luck for tomorrow... There is a sting in the tail of this challenge that should not be under estimated. Go on Ian!
175 km to go and I’m hoping Boris will be at the end to greet us.
Jon's famous last words
Day 6, three stages today. With the warning from the ride captains that the first stage would be completed at a rather swift pace, many of us chose to sit this one out. The haggard looks on the faces of the riders who had taken this on confirmed that the rumours were true. As we waited on the coach one of our numbers iPod shuffled on to Barber's adagio for strings - the piece of music playing over the climactic scene in the war film Platoon - very fitting.
The next two stages were beautiful, a perfect combination of challenging climbs, sweeping and technical descents, and long straight aways. Absolutely brilliant.
We all made it to Cannes in one piece, Martin and Ian are officially super human as they completed every kilometre. Having done around 820 km myself, I cannot overstate how impressive this achievement is, 1,500 km in 6 days, well done lads. Steve pushed through 1,350 km and James covered some 750 km - 340km of these in the last 2 days. Incredible effort from the Broadgate Estates riders.
Overall the riders completing the challenge have raised more than £250,000 for the children's charity Coram, which makes everyone's hard work worthwhile.
So that is it, thrills and spills, ups and downs. I have really enjoyed it and my bike - which has developed a nice squeak, known as MIPIM character - has survived, despite some of my threats to send it to the knackers yard. To close, I will paraphrase a true Lycra card legend in simply saying "if anybody sees me go near a bike again, you have my permission to shoot me!" And we all know how that ended for Sir Steve Redgrave...
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Fighting for the full distance
Sorry it's a short update because I have spent the entire day in the saddle completing every stage and racking up 171 km, along with Ian, Martin and Steve and Jon completed 2 stages and over 110km! Great job by the BE riders.
Bizarrely having cycled over 110 miles yesterday I struggled to sleep and only managed 3 hours before the alarm went off at 4.45am... Must cycle further?
We left at 6am an hour earlier than originally planned in darkness and the freezing cold so we could catch Boris before he flew home... Not the most popular decision, particularly with those networking late into the night.
The first stage had the biggest hill of the trip and we had all been warned it was not to be under estimated....on the upside the descent was incredible. The rest of the day passed with a variety of hills, bumps and French villages. We call every potential hazard as we cycle to warn the people behind, however at times today it was difficult to know what to avoid...... "bump, curb, car, rabbit, Pigeon…"
Eventually in arrived in Cannes and rolled into the MIPIM centre with Team Broadgate Estates leading the way. The reception was amazing. I am incredibly proud to be part of Cycle to Mipim and represent Broadgate Estates.
It has been a fantastic challenge and most importantly, collectively we have raised over £250k for charity.
Thank you to everyone that has sponsored me (and the team), assisted me in preparing for the event and lent me kit.... I am looking forward to a well-earned steak-frites tonight and then a good nights sleep!