Tue 15 March 2016, 10:26 am
From Blois, we head out on the longest day of the event and a journey which takes us from the forests of the Loire, through the heart of Burgundy's vine-clad hills – and not a drop to drink or even think about ....
We're enjoying this brilliant route, rolling and wooded, we got to see the sun rising through the mist. And it's in sharp contrast to the flat and fairly featureless run from Calais down through Champagne. On this journey, there's more to see – just quite a lot of it.
Despite feeling mean and moody, grim determination simply wasn't enough to get me to the summit of our first big climb to snow level. Help was on hand though from Richard Fenne (Woods Bagot) and John Nordon (Pegasus Life), and David Taylor (New London Quarterly) who was celebrating his birthday.
Apart from the banter en route, there are momentary humourous interludes, such as when a rider approached a young mechanic and said: "Can I ask a really big favour?" Seeing the mechanic’s expression of horror, he looked down and realised he was holding a tub of chamois cream... “No, no! I need help with my bike!”
We had ridden 150km before lunch, 200km from four stages in a row, for the first time, before taking a rest in the bus for a while. The ride has been at a fast pace of 28-30kph.
The day began cloudy but by the early afternoon, the sun came out and we met up with the main ride at lunch stop. It was good catching up with David Hutt (Networkland), Christian Spencer-Davis (A-Models), Julian Bell (Ealing Council leader) and others, before zipping off – we have to stay one stage ahead until tomorrow night when we're all together.
There are big decisions for David Taylor and I. If we ride out for one more stage, another 47km, we are potentially still able to get to 1000km by the end of the week. But we're tired, and it means a big climb in the cold.
So Ian Chalk (Ian Chalk Architects) who has been ill for two days, Brendon Walsh (Hounslow Council) and Christian Male (SimpsonHaugh & Partners), along with David Taylor and I, agree in the bus: we're going to form a slow group at the back and go for it. A very slow group. This might be the defining moment of the whole trip...
In total it has amounted to a 14-hour day of 329km – that’s 204.4 miles – sometimes in temperatures of minus four degrees but that means 52.1% of the ride is complete – 755km.
And we’ve done it – 250km in a day, the best ever!
Only 200 miles to go tomorrow.
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