On July 3, Martyn Jones, a 34-year-old media director from Hertfordshire, left the starting line of this year’s Tour de France with the aim of completing every stage of the Grande Boucle – 48 hrs ahead of the race itself.
Martyn is keeping us informed of his progress (when he can locate internet access in rural France) and here's his fourth blog entry for BikeRadar:
Stage 7: Brioude to Aurillac, 159km
The day started with another transfer to the stage start which meant leaving the hotel early (around 07:45) after breakfast. A friend of mine, Nick, met me in Brioude to ride the stage with me. It was good to see and chat with him and it helped pass the first 15km of uphill.
It’s remarkable how much more normal I felt today after yesterday – I guess the sunshine helps too. The countryside in this region is wonderful, a bit like the
We stopped in the town of
There was no post-ride massage for me, as Ed had spent over 9 hours in the car. I was not happy as the massage is one of the things you look forward to all day. The crew too, were unhappy, feeling that the day was unnecessarily long (me waiting for friend plus other delays) so we had a team talk and put the experience behind us.
Calories burned in the saddle: 7,200
Time in the saddle: 8 hrs
Feel good factor: 7/10
Stage 8: Figeac –
A very hot stage: it was 42 degrees on the road and 34 in the shade (not that I saw much of it). This was an energy-sapping 180km in wine and sunflower country. We passed though a stunning town called Villefranche-de-Rouergue which looks definitely worth a visit.
It was possibly one of the toughest days given the hot conditions, regardless of the (relatively easy) terrain as it was hard to get a rhythm going, which is all important. Also, I’m still adjusting after the cold and wet weather of the first week.
I really need the rest day soon. After my leg massage I worked on the bike preparing things for an early start tomorrow – a 224km stage into the
Calories burned in the saddle: 6,100
Time in the saddle: 6 hrs 20 mins
Conditions: v. hot / sticky (drank 8 litres today and needed more)
Feel good factor: 5/10
Today was another monster stage, taking me in to the
It was such a long and winding start today. You know you're in the Tour de France when after 100 miles you still haven't reached the first climb of the day - the first of 2 mountain passes.
I was joined by Graham Baxter on the Col de Peyresourde and kept a good pace going over both it and the
As luck would have it the heavens opened again all the way down the valley to the hotel - not the best way to end a ride as the legs get cold. My kit was completely soaked and I had to wear winter gloves for protection from the cold. Overall I did well today, though.
Calories burned in the saddle: 8,200
Time in the saddle: 8 hrs
Conditions: perfect then awful!
Feel good factor: 8/10
This year's official 'Etape du Tour' stage was cruel. On paper it was fairly tough but I've certainly done tougher rides, however the inclement weather simply made today one of the hardest I have experienced in a long time. In fact nothing could have prepared me for the amount of freezing cold rain that greeted me at the start and stayed with me all day over each climb and every kilometre.
Rivers of rain were pouring down from the hills onto the roads, cow and sheep bells were rattling away in the distance, the sound of streaming water was all around everywhere was green, very green and wet - as wet as it gets.
It’s raw here - not as welcoming as the
Ascending the Tourmalet was terrible. There was a headwind going through La Mongie and it was so cold near the summit that I can't believe it didn't turn to snow as we were above 2000m by then.
I was soaked through, with puddles in my shoes while my winter tights, Goretex jacket, you name it - were all drenched. By now the chill was getting through to my bones, my skinny torso providing a poor barrier.
One of the worst things today was that out of the hundreds of camper vans parked near the summit there was literally nobody to offer any encouragement. They'd all sought refuge indoors, evidence of which came from the amount of condensation of the car windows.
It then started to thunder, with the noise echoing around the sharp peaks near the summit. It was as though the world was ending.
I had to seek temporary refuge at the top in a small restaurant and wait for my support crew to help. I couldn't even converse with them properly by the time they arrived, it was a case of signals and grunts to ask them to give me dry warm clothes so that I could ride the rest of the day and finish. Within 30 minutes, however, I was dry, re-clothed and relatively human again.
The rain carried on all the way up the terrible Hautacam - a very tough slog but I was able to find my rhythm and make it through the clouds.
Calories burned in the saddle: 7,600
Time in the saddle: 7 hrs
Feel good factor: 2/10