L’Etape diary – part 2 ( or deux as they might say in France )

189 days to go and everything is falling in to place nicely . Deposit and entry fee are all paid up . I’ve applied to my local health board for an E111 card . Flights are booked . Shannon – Carcassonne return . Having spoken to Sean from trail-seekers who advised that the transfer is a good deal shorter from Grenoble , I still choose the Carcassonne option as Shannon is sooooo much more convenient than Dublin for access , parking and travel time from Clonmel .

The entry form requires a medical so last week I made an appointment to see my G.P . It was his day off , however , so I attended another doctor in the same practice . The alternate doctor gave me a more thorough examination then my normal GP would have undertaken and was asking me a little about the reasons for the visit etc. I explained that I am riding the ‘Etape duTour’  in France in July and that a medical is required for entry . He then asked how I qualified or was selected to ride the ‘race’ . I explained that anyone could enter as long as they are fit and healthy and have the training done .

I had the sense that the doctor was concentrating on the job in hand ( my examination ) and that my answers were floating around the surgery and not quiet making land . This was confirmed as I was leaving and he wished me luck and promised that he would be keeping an eye out on the television for me 😉

Now this is not unusual , the ‘Etape’ is one stage of the Tour de France that is ridden by roughly eight thousand cyclists of all abilities who want to experience the difficulty of the terrain that the real race will cover a week later . The closed roads , the roadside crowds applauding , the sun beating down on you as you look up at ‘ The Giant of Provence ‘ as Mont Ventoux has been called , all add to the mystique surrounding the event .

Joe public , however , hears stage of the Tour deFrance , misses the ‘stage ‘ part and just hears that you’re heading off to ride The Tour de France .

A few years ago the local school principal rode the ‘Etape’ and a few of his students were in the shop asking if we knew him . We confirmed that we knew him well and they told us that ‘  He’s some cycler  , he races in de Tour a France an evertin durin de summer when he’s offa school ‘ . High praise indeed for their School Principal , but this was underpinned witha sense of respect for what he was doing outside of school hours .

Training wise I’m currently up to 3 1/2 to 4 hour spins each Sunday in ‘relative’ comfort and 2 1/2 on Tuesdays with some climbing . Thursday is a 1 hour session on the turbo and Saturday is the same depending on how the teething in the cot in the next room has gone during the night .

Weight is now 89 kg and target weight for July is 82 kg . I got down to 77kg for the Ras in 2005 so 82 should be attainable .

The Bike – This is the best part . I will have it built fully within the week but will not take it out on the road until early March . Viner Maxima custom built frameset , Campagnolo Super Record groupset with 175 50 x 34 compact chainset and 11 – 25 11 speed cassette . The 50 x 11 is pretty close to a 53 x 12 so that should be plenty for fast descents and the 34 x 25 should also be plenty to get up ‘Ventoux’ . Any lower and I might as well get off and walk and that ‘aint’ going to happen .

So that’s about it , all falling in to place nicely and looking forward to July 20th . And just in case Lance Armstrong is hearing some wild rumours on his twitter feed he can sleep easy  . There won’t be 90 ‘Paddys’ turning up at the start in Monaco in July so he can rest assured that the only jersey to look out for will be those on his own team .

Cyclefilm have brought out a great recon dvd a clip of which can be seen here;


Whilst my current training looks more like this ;




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