2014 Tour of Britain Stage 7 - bikebritain style - Prologue
Romain Feillu, Edvald Boasson Hagen, Michael Albasini, Lars Boom, Sir Bradley of Wiggins. All winners of the modern incarnation of the Tour of Britain, and all therefore, by definition, must have completed a stage of the race.
On Sunday, I intend to join them. In having ridden a stage of the Tour of Britain, I mean, not going out together for a spot of brunch or winning the actual race, whichever of those is less ludicrous.
Having been literally bullied into going to Cycle Oregon later in the year, I need to take any opportunity to do some long-range cycling and, with Jonathan and I having a weekend lying fallow, we decided to do something memorable. The location of Stage 7 of this year’s Tour of Britain provided a good opportunity to do just that, and prove we could live with the pros.
Of course, we’ll, and to a significantly greater extent, I will, do no such thing. The pros will do it in about half the time, they will not stop at a supermarket for lunch, have several rests, or have to wait for a slow and fat pro who has inexplicably found their way into the race. Crucially, the pros will also know the route, as the actual topographical depictions are not yet a matter of public record, unless you want to go and piece it together from all the letters in the various local newspapers complaining about road closures.
Still, if you ignore all of that, bikebritain is basically doing a proper reconnaissance of the longest stage of the 2014 Tour of Britain, and we will be sending our findings to the teams that will be lining up later in the year, as well as the organisers. My initial findings are thus: the stage is too long – at 220km, it is a good 75km further than I have ever cycled in one day before; and it has Ditching Beacon right at the end, which is at best inconvenient and at worst flat-out cruel. That’s, of course, if I make it that far. If there was a ‘broom wagon’, it would probably have swept me up/run me over before I got to Haslemere.
Naturally, there will be a write-up next week as well as a trademark video, which I confidently predict will largely consist of Jonathan doing pieces to camera whilst waiting for me at the top of things, both challenging hills or mild inclines, punctuated by pieces to camera whilst lost, pieces to camera whilst eating and pieces to camera whilst I’m being put into the back of an ambulance.
Please note, however, I am planning to take the sprint finish along Madeira drive in Brighton. This will be based on the element of surprise, so I’ll be fine as long as Jonathan doesn’t read this. Of course, this will be a Madeira Drive with the general public out doing their Sunday business on it, so I will probably end up winning the plough-into-a-parked-car-whilst-trying-to-avoid-some-pedestrians prize. Well, a prize is a prize...
In a few days time I will ride the proposed seventh leg of 2014's Tour of Britain with Lukey, for no other reason than we have an opportunity to do so. It was either this or ride a mountain bike over muddy hills for miles and miles and since we both need to do some training prior to Cycle Oregon due to be held at the same time, Lukey and I opted for the road. Out of the blue, he suggested the 7th leg because it was in the rough proximity to where we both live. So far, it all made sense and sounded like a good idea. The fact I didn't know where it specifically went seemed a minor triviality.
The Camberley to Brighton leg is 220 km long and the precise route has yet to be published. However a glance at the confirmed towns it will pass through (and surrounding terrain) indicates that it won't be flat ride. As you know, I like challenge, but to date (as in ever) I've not ridden further than 200 km in one classified ride. Furthermore it will be 66 km further than I've ridden so far this year and I was shattered after that (see http://www.bikebritain.org/article.php?id=209). Pacing will be crucial and since the objective is to ride together, 'steady and sustainable' will be the phrase of the day. As will 'mild' undulations and "Are we there yet?" (Readers duly note, I have no track record in being able to either ride steadily or sustainably).
I am looking forward to it, in an odd way. It will provide a timely boost for my mileage in May. Quite what manner I complete it in remains to be seen, though as Lukey comments most of the key moments and many of the minor ones will captured on film. I am sure the crowds lining the way on Maderia Drive, cheering, will help us through the last klick or so........
Words by Lukey and bikebritain ltd
Thumbnail and Slider taken during the 2013 ToB Stage 1 and 2 – bikebritain Ltd