The longest day

•July 20, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Stage 19

Aside from being the longest stage in the race and the day after two epic Alpine days, we had torrential rain and temperatures of 11°c to contend with.

Once over the 2nd of the three 3rd category climbs there were blue skies on the horizon. 15 minutes later and layers were being removed, sun cream applied and 35 celcius. We were riding into a hairdryer to the tune of crickets, the scent of lavender and the mighty giant of Provence, the Mont Ventoux was in the distance.

 This wasn’t on the route but the sadist in me wished it was as I have never climbed this lengendary mountain.

Today was a first in 27 years of cycling, I spent literally the whole ride (135 miles) on the front with Simon setting the tempo.

This is the last of the big stages, we are staying at the Marseille airport hotel, a short time trial then a plane to Paris.

We are almost there…

📷- Dave Hayward

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Thanks from all at Cureleukeamia


•July 19, 2017 • 1 Comment

Stage 18; 177km,  Briancon – Izoard 

When I explained to some people that I was going to ride the Tour, ahh the Etape is often there response, I’d love to do that.

This is an annual event that is extremely popular, 15,000 or so cyclists take on a stage of the Tour, it is on closed roads and more often than not won by a pro or Ex pro.

Well today was the ‘Etape stage’ which took place over these very roads on Sunday.

With sore legs from yesterday’s monster we had a rolling 1st half of the stage with a 1st category climb the col du Vars, followed by the 2360m monster Izord, it starts of gently luring you into a false sense of security, then 7km from the top goes steep, my necklace swung like a pendulum as I set my tempo, inscribed ‘with love from your Girls’  I visualised them being at the top to focus away from the pain to my chest and legs, miss them and can’t wait to see them on Saturday it’s been too long, again!

As you exit the tree line, there is a slight drop in altitude and it’s more lunar landscape than alpine. These are forbidding and barren scree slopes with protruding pinnacles of weathered rock on the upper south side. Known as the Casse Déserte. This is the last mountain top finish of this years tour, so when the big boys come up tomorrow we should see attacks. 

We have our last big stage a rolling 235km awaits us in the morning, complete that and then We can start to dream of finishing in Paris. 

If you would like to donate then here’s my page-

📷 – Dave Hayward 

Thanks from all at Cureleukeamia

The Devils Playground

•July 18, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Stage 17; 183k

La Mure – Serre Chevalier

The first alpine stage as always took its toll! The opening climb, the 2nd cat Col d’Ornon was the very first mountain that I ever climbed back in 1999 when good friends Phil, Peter & myself camped at the foot of Alp d’huez and took on the Alps (loosely speaking) as there is only one winner, them!

The next climb was the Col de la Croix de Fer, an almighty testing HC ascent. Back 18 years ago, it almost broke me. I had to try and readdress the balance and had the chance two years ago although we had to climb it in a thunderstorm. Today the sky was blue and it was mid 30s. The climb is a tough one and requires a disciplined tempo as there are lots of changes of gradients including a big downhill in amongst its 24km length.

In 99 we also climbed the Galibier but from the easier (if there is an easier!) side. Today we had to take on the 1st Cat Col du Telegraphe as the stepping stone, topping out at 2642m and 35km in length. It’s a real monster, 2 hours of suffering!

I would have found it hard to imagine that these 3 climbs that I took on in isolation would make up one day on the bike many years later and that is after over 2500km of tough riding beforehand.

Talking of suffering, we also had our second crash. Ash (Neil Ashton) slipped on a hairpin bend right at the top of the Galibier descent. The classic road rash combo of hip, knee and elbow. He is ok and rode to the finish albeit sore.

It’s another big day tomorrow with a summit finish on another legend, the Col d’Izoard, so a day of gurning is on the cards

If you would like to donate then here’s my page-

Thanks from all at Cureleukeamia

Take me to the Chapel 

•July 17, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Stage 16; 165km, Le Puy – Romans-sur Isère

It wasn’t until we stopped for lunch and read some tweets of encouragement that it dawned on me. back in 2015 when I rode the tour I studied each hamlet, village, town, climb and finish. Here I was two years later riding another Tour, but it’s very different as this is day 37 out of 63 and with that in mind I wanted to take each day as it comes.  

I didn’t realise I’ve been here before and over these very roads, not on a bike but in a car.

When I won National chef of the year in 2013 one of many special prizes was a dinner at 3 star French gastronomic temple, Regis & Jacque Marcon, we rode through that very village on top of the plateau in St Bonnet le Froid at 65km then descending down dropped to Tain l’Hermitage past Valrhona’s La Citè de Chocolate.

We rode past but I just managed to get this snap, I wished we could have popped in to show the guys what real chocolate is. But alas we had a stage to finish.

However with chocolate in mind we need to have a stunning chocolate mousse for ‘Back in the Saddle’ and I’ve got just the recipe, valrhona 70% chocolate and just eggs, no cream to mask the beautiful flavours of the chocolate.

Through the vineyards and a fleeting glimpse of La chapelle where we had our wine tasting over looking the Rhone valley some 3 years back. We have just been joined by Oli the wine buyer at headline sponsors Farr vintners, fresh strong legs and with understandably a great knowledge of the stuff that comes from grapes, like the 61 La Chapelle which I understood to be the one!!

There was again no time for sentiment or a beautiful glass of red, as the last 50km was run off into a stiff cross then head wind that took discipline from the group to stay together. I self appointed myself road captain and after a morning of playing ‘faux pro’ on some of the grippy bits and mixing it with the Belgium boys from another team with Ash, Andy, James and New man Oli, it was time to put my head down and ride for the group, if the skipper was still here it was what he would describe as a captains performance. Strong enough to make progress into the wind but at a rate that kept the group together.

Tomorrow we start the first of three very tough alpine days, over the Croix de fer and the Galibier which tops out at 2645m it’s going to be a very hard day indeed, I’m praying for strong legs and the cool head to know when to use them.

📷 – Dave Hayward

If you would like to donate then here’s my page-

Thanks from all at Cureleukeamia

Home of the Lentil

•July 16, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Stage 15; 189km 

Now that was a tough day, in less than 45km we had already climbed 1300m in elevation. But it wasn’t this alone it was the fact for the majority of the day were riding on the Aubrac Plateau at an altitude of over 1000 metres for around fifty kilometres.the wind was very strong making progress hard. It tested everyone’s physical and mental strength with some questioning if they should get off, but no we pushed on.

The climb up to the Col de Peyra Taillade had average gradients of 14% for a km coupled with tired legs it was a real stinger.

The run in was far from easy with a 4th cat climb and then several steep hills in and around le Puy en velay. With a total of 3400m elevation on rough roads that’s main job seemed to be to slow you it was a tough day that matched any other thus far on this unusual tour Tour.

The town is famous for its Puy green lentils of Le Puy-en-Velay in the Auvergne region of France. These lentils have been grown in the region for over 2,000 years. They have gastronomic qualities that come from the terroir, attributed to the areas volcanic soil. Praised for their unique peppery flavour and ability to retain their shape after cooking, these are definitely going to feature in the 3tour cookbook.

It’s a rest day tomorrow, like the whole team I’m certainly ready for it…

📷 – Dave Hayward 

If you would like to donate then here’s my page-

Thanks from all at Cureleukeamia

Combine Harvester 

•July 14, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Stage 14,  181km, Blagnac – Rodez

Bastille day, and France celebrates a Frenchman wining a stage on their national day since 2005.

Riding through the Tarn and then Averyon regions, these grippy rough roads were familiar, so much so that the final 12km run into the finish at Rodez was a carbon copy of 2015.

The big difference was that the day’s ride two years ago was darn hot. And the car park at the finish was full of press and spectators as we were joined by Big Tex, Lance Armstrong.  Blog 🔗 Hotter than doughnut grease

We are staying in Milau in the shadow of The Millau Viaduct that spans the gorge valley of the River Tarn. It is the tallest bridge in the world, with one mast’s summit at 343m above the ground. designed by the English architect Sir Norman Foster. 

Tomorrow looks a very tough undulating day, so going to sign off…. 
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Thanks from all at Cureleukeamia

Short n’ Sweet 

•July 13, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Stage 13; 101km Saint Girons – Foix

The 2nd Pyrenean stage was very short by Tour standards but nonetheless they managed to shoe horn in three 1st cat climbs. The third of the day was quite gentle for 6km then ramped up as you turned left up essentially what resembled a steep 18% goat track, this part of the climb averaged well over 12% for 3.6km.

With empty legs from yesterday’s mammoth stage it was good to get this one out of the way, even managed to catch the last 20km of the pros riding the stage on TV. Seeing Quintana & Froome crack and lose yellow summed up the stages difficulty.

Sadly we say goodbye to our four guest riders, James, Scott, Gav and Kev, was great to share the road with them.

I’m writing this stuck in traffic enroute to Toulouse. We stayed here in 2015 but I recall we arrived then at midnight!

Two long grippy days across the Massif Central stand in the way before our next rest day.

If you would like to donate then here’s my page-

Thanks from all at Cureleukeamia