As this blog posts I will be heading off towards the airport, bags packed, and ready to go. The last few weeks of preparation for Le Loop haven’t been as successful as I would have hoped. Partly, I might have gone too hard at the start of my training preparation in terms of both volume undertaken and the aggressive stance I took with my weight loss, but I have also been slowed by some bike issues.
Those of you who follow me on the various social media channels will know a minor issue with my bike meant it has had to go back to Specialized for a warranty repair (a very simple aluminium dropout protector fell off, and it has gone back to the factory to have a new one bonded back on). Due to when it happened I was not going to get the bike back before it needed to be shipped to France last Friday. This left me with a massive dilemma about which bike to use as I had trained pretty much exclusively on the bike for the past 3 months.
I plumped for a lovely new Specialized Tarmac, equipped with disc brakes. Probably far more suited to the event than my Venge, but with less than a week to setup the bike, get used to new positioning (a slightly different geometry and shorter crank lengths) and different characteristics with disc brakes, this left me nervous. I made a school boy error and whilst trying to get the setup perfectly accurate, I forgot to account for different crank lengths. This resulted (after 3 rides) in knee and hip pain, and left me VERY worried that I had made the correct choice. It also meant I needed a few extra days off the bike to allow things to settle, and get set up issues altered (this included changing bars, stem and gear ratio’s) so more training time was lost. (Sportstest tip: Settle on kit choices 6-8 weeks before your event, get it all checked and serviced an try not to change anything pre-race if you can absolutely help it!)
Next week will tell whether this will be positive in terms of giving me an enforced taper! However, I have also had an insatiable appetite and my will-power has waned slightly (well ok – a lot), and in the past week my weight has crept up by nearly 2kg! Again, this is probably not a bad thing considering I am going to be riding nearly 1,100km with around 25,000m of climbing over 7 of the toughest stages of this years Tour de France route! I am sure I will have adequate opportunity to burn off a few calories next week! Only time will tell.
So, the story of the past ~2 weeks has been lots of recovery, and a little too much food, and stress levels through the roof! When I have ridden, Strava suggests I have been going well, as I have been hitting a good number of segment PR’s, and when I have ridden with friends and clients, they have all commented on how well I am riding, so something clearly positive is happening…..let’s see.
On that note, several people have asked about updates on how I am getting on. Well if my phone battery holds up, and depending on network coverage I guess, I am planning to use Map My Tracks (along with some of the other Loopers) so you can follow my progress and track me live.
My first day will be Saturday 14th and I will be riding Stage 14 of the Tour. Follow my progress here:
If this is successful, then I will post daily links to my progress on the Sportstest Facebook pages on a daily basis, so make sure you like the page if you haven’t already. I will also try to get a good number of photos onto social media, and will try to generate a daily blog, even if this is a just a video blog.
You can also follow the other Le Loop riders who are competing via the events section of the Map My Tracks pages.
So in under 24 hours I will be facing my first day of riding, I am still really nervous about it, as I have only ever ridden this far once before (it may surprise people to know my longest ever rides have only been ironman races at 112 miles or 180km), and certainly never done this much distance or climbing on a daily basis, so I will be very much entering new territory.
I hope my experiences this week can be used to broaden my knowledge from a personal perspective, and I can better help others doing similar rides in the future, it is certainly going to be an adventure. But now, I need to get a wriggle on, and get to my train for the airport, as I have a long day of travelling ahead of me to get me to Valence tonight, then the early morning transfer to Saint-Paul Trios-Chateaux for the start of Stage 14 of Le Tour de France!
Thank you again for everyone who has supported the WWMT charitable trust, and if you want to contribute, you still can 🙂
France here I come, I’m as ready as I will ever be!!!!!