Inspired By The Tour De France: Two Tales Of Cycling Challenges

A slew of Tour de France-related emails have arrived this week promoting this product, that cause etc… The race itself, of course, sets off today from the Vendรฉe in western France. Of all the emails that I have received, two stick out from the rest. The first comes with the following strap line:

Bipolar accountant to cycle first ever virtual Tour de France to raise awareness & money to tackle mental ill-health

From 7-29th July, Rob Stephenson will complete every stage of the Tour on the same day as the professional racers across the Channel – but while they will be whizzing around (and up and down) the French countryside, Rob will be touring the UK and taking a roadshow of bikes and trainers to workplaces across the country. The initiative is called MindCycle and aims to raise awareness around mental ill-health as well as raise money for MQ: Transforming mental Health.

Rob himself was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder when he was 30:

“MindCycle will be a tough challenge, physically and mentally. But the main thing that keeps me positive is purpose โ€“ which I am lucky enough to have found.

My dream is that in 10 years time we wonโ€™t need to be tackling stigma, as it will no longer be an issue, and that mental health will be properly considered and looked after in the workplace. MindCycle is just the start of my journey, but Iโ€™m excited about where it might take me.”

More information about Rob’s challenge on his website.

The second email to catch my eye came with the following headline:

Le Grande Boucle – Amateur cyclists complete 5,439km ride to replicate the first Tour de France of 1911

A more traditional Tour de France challenge, but this one stood out from the rest asย Katie-Jane L’Herpiniere and Lee Townend – the two amateur cyclists concerned – have completed their challenge unsupported. It seems to be the trend to complete such endeavours with a gear-packed van behind the cyclists, but not so for Katie and Lee. The pair arrived in Paris on June 27th after what sounds like quite a gruelling 23 days cycling around France:

“Horrific saddle sores, swollen achilles, repetitive strain in both knees, cyclistโ€™s palsy (loss of use in my left hand), mouth and lips covered in ulcers, and numb toes are typical of long-distance riding, but it was falling asleep while riding that caused me so many problems. By the time I got to the last couple of stages I was reduced to tears, actually terrified to get on my bike and peddle through the night!”

The two cyclists followed the route of the 1911 Tour de France – regarded as the ‘first modern Tour de France‘ – and the cyclists of the time competed as individuals with no access to support cars or spare bikes. It was also the first tour to pass over both the Alps and the Pyrenees, something that has happened ever since. Some great photos on Katie’s Instagram feed. Very inspirational and, indeed, aspirational! And I don’t think Katie is done quite yet… More info on her website.



Episode 007: July 2018

Cycling the Yorkshire Dales Cycleway (eastern loop) from Malham to Settle and back, travelling in Japan and an interview with Mike Webb ofย PulpedTravel.comย and cycling to the summit of one of the Tour de France’s most iconic climbs: Mont Ventoux

Categories: Adventure, Cycling, Travel

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