It’s official … I have become a MAMIL (Middle Aged Man In Lycra). I’m not even entirely sure how it happened … it started out as a bit of mountain biking as a way to exercise the dogs and suddenly I’ve found myself ogling carbon wheels and Shimano groupsets…. but I dare say that a mile-stone birthday had something to do with it. For anyone looking for further clarification on what a MAMIL is you can find help at http://ukmambo.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/what-is-mamil-exactly.htmlbut if you’re a pictures sort of person then look no further than this guy …..
So why the post? Well, in the best traditions of Top Gun it seems as though my ego has been writing cheques that my body can’t cash. The Tour de Force is an event run to benefit the William Wates Memorial Trust (WWMT) that cycles the entire Tour de France route in the same time frame as the professionals going over the same ground just 7 days behind. That’s 21 days of riding and 3,500 km of tarmac … some of it pointing quite sharply upwards! A hugely impressive feat that I am NOT undertaking. Instead I have scaled back my London 2012 induced ambitions to the Tour de Force equivalent of dipping a toe in the water. A ‘mere’ 3 consecutive stages that travels from Tours, through rolling valleys and vineyards to the summit of Mont Ventoux in Provence. 606km. 3 days. It doesn’t sound so hard after hearing about the nutters doing the whole thing and besides, when I signed up I had images of sunflowers and sunshine …. Sort of like this……
After a little research, I’m only now starting to realize just what I’ve got myself into. Some facts to put this into perspective.
606 km in 3 days. If I drove that I’d need 47 litres of fuel … so I can console myself with the thought that I’m saving about £66 on petrol.
Stage 15 (my third and final day of riding) is the longest day of the entire tour. 242km. This is how far an average teenager walks in 7 months! Even if I could average 20 kmh (which I won’t) that’s over 12 hours in the saddle..The last 20 odd km of that day is a ride up the slopes of Ventoux … .more of that in a moment.
I will burn 27,000 calories during my three days of cycling. I checked a few websites and it seems that’s the equivalent to 112 hours of shoveling snow by hand or alternatively I could burn the same number of calories by simply watching the real Tour de France on TV for 320 hours. Rather depressingly it is also the equivalent of ‘only’ 116 Kit-Kat’s.
A quick bit of info about the finish in Provence. Mont Ventoux is one of the ‘classic’ climbs in cycling. It’s not too difficult to spot when looking at the profile of the days ride from Givors to Ventoux ….
It remains something of a mecca for cyclists and British cyclists in particular after Tom Simpson died riding up it in the 1967 Tour de France. To be honest I have no comprehension of what I am trying to take on especially when you consider that I have to ride 220 odd km just to get to the foot of the ‘Giant of Provence’. But if you are familiar with Box Hill just outside Dorking, the ride up Ventoux is 9 times longer and has an average gradient 2.4 times greater. A good time for an amateur is around 2 hours for the climb. A good time for a desk jockey commuter who (at time of writing) doesn’t even own a road bike yet ….. I prefer not to think about it….
And so I am seeking your support in this rather rash (quite literally I expect) adventure. Every penny raised will go to support the William Wates Memorial Trust (all riders are self funding in terms of travel, accommodation etc). The William Wates Memorial Trust exists to celebrate the life of William Wates who was tragically killed when travelling in South America. The Trust is a grants giving registered charity set up in 1998 with a mission to help the most disadvantaged young people keep away from a life of crime and violence, and fulfill their potential. This is mainly achieved by supporting charities that engage young people through the mediums of sports, arts and education. More information can be found at www.wwmt.org
As a final note – I should point out that in supporting me you are getting something of a ‘twofer’ (as in two for 1) since I promised myself that as part of my training for this I would complete the South Downs Way (Winchester to Eastbourne by mountain bike) in a single day. This is a journey usually undertaken in 3 days and covers 100 miles off-road with 100 fences/ gates just to stop you ever getting into any sort of a rhythm. There is almost 12,000 feet of climbing or put another way – sea level to the top of Snowdon … 3 times. The rather alarming profile looks like this and I shall need to get it done in daylight hours without support….
So you can see, in terms of getting value for money, my pain and suffering (and your amusement) will be long and drawn out and take you all the way to mid summer. It’s an absolute bargain!
Thank you for reading this far – please do show your support in any way possible (flapjacks gratefully received!) for a very worthwhile cause. I have set up a charity page for online donations at www.bmycharity.com/mamilontour and I will endeavour to keep this site updated with news of my progress (or lack thereof) and in particular the South Downs Way challenge).
Finally, do please feel free to pass this on to anyone who might be interested. It would absolutely make my day to receive even the smallest donation from someone that I haven’t even met. It would also help to pass the hours of training by marvelling at the power of the internet! With thanks in advance for your support.
Jules (trying hard not to be THIS guy….)