Friday, 18 July 2008

Tour de France Challenge - Stages 11 - 14

Rest Day
Was given a vip pass to watch the stage finish in bagnerres de bigorre today - the tour visited the same town that i was staying in for another night. great win by the young ricco - very impressive to see live in the espace izoard with french and other celebs etc ..enjoyed myself and managed to get a few mins with phil liggett and sherwen to update them in person before heading back for my evening meal in the hotel. great buffet all ho,e made and just what i needed.

stage 11 - foix
into the ariege rgion now - left bagnerres de bigorre and for the first time thanks to a clear day we were able to see the pyrenes panorama properly - impressive. again, along the course the countryside changed along with the houses...more spanish in appearance and chalky soil.
thisi is a beautiful unspoilt ^part of france ideally positioned to enjoy winter and summer sports...very close to andorra.
plenty of eagles around today - a few flying only 10 metres or so above me as i descended the first col of the day. just as things seemed relatively easy i began the ascent of the col de portel ... a real country backroad that you couldnt imagine being able to accomodate le tour on..very narrow and steep. there was a nother climb near to the finish a real sting in the tail to take those extra calories from me just as i thought i was home and least today i was literally home and dry for a change. great small and vey old town. quirky hotel stayed in room 101 which looked like dot cottons living room!

time - under 6.5 hrs
calories - 5900
feel good factor: 6 out of 10
ipod tune: oxygene - jean michel jarre

stage 12
felt good today as me and the support crew following behind zipped through to narbonne - good solid ride spinning really well in the heat. kept the legs supple and arrived in a decent novotel with pool to finish the day. before i knew it was time for massage then bed - incredible how little personal off the bike time you have.

time: 5 hrs 10 mins
calories: 4,900
feel good factor: 7/10
ipod tune: poison - the prodigy

stage 13
in theory another flattish stage on paper for you folks back home but the reality is different when youre riding alone on these heavy hot roads which see,m to twist and turn endlessly through vineyards and mistral valleys.
it was another case of being as efficient as i could within race pace today - my own race pace that is which is somewhere between a good pace to finish the day without spending an un necessary amount of time in the saddle and having the spare capacity at the end for another day..then another day etc.

time: 5 hrs 59 mins
calories: 6200
feel good factor: 7/10
ipod tune: im so tired - adele 19

stage 14 - digne les bains
194km today in a glorious 32 degrees + a lovely day to be out cycling in provence.
crossed the massive rhone river relatively soon into the ride taking me into big country ...rhone alpes region opening up a magnificent pre-amble into the high french alps. amidst the many fresh lavender fields it was easy to spot the giant of provence as it is known or the mount ventoux by its correct name...majestic peak with a lunar landscape summit unesco protected qppqrently.
this is where the film by ridley scott...q good yeqr was filmed. - plenty of hillside villges and fortress towns amongst rolling meadows.
did a great ride today considering the fatigue which is creeping in now - finished at an average speed of 32kmph - really pleased.

after the stage i quick my drank my post ride recovery drink then put the bike in the van and the crew drove us to the next town for tomorrows monster mountain stage - the next few days see me take in the highest longest passes in europe.. transfer time was almost 2 hours in a sticky hot van...tiring stuff after a 194km ride but thats le tour. staying in a great place near to embrun within a huge alpine valley - the biggest ive ever seen.

time: 5 hrs 55 mins
calories: 6500
feel good factor : 8/10
Ipod tune: this is the sea - waterboys

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Capita SIP Services - Gold Medal at 3 Peaks Challenge

7 employees of Capita SIP services from Salisbury completed the 3 peaks challenge in a Gold time of 19 hours and 49 minutes.
Nicole Jarvis, second from right, used her fitness from being a 2nd Dan in Taekwon Do and black belt 1st Dan in Kickboxing to help her up the mountains.

Well done guys - hope the legs have recovered!

Tour de France Challenge - Stages 7 - 10

Stage 7
End of the first week...
Start with another transfer to the stage start - leave the hotel early (around 07:45) after breakfast.
A friend of mine, NICK, met me in Brioudeto ride stage with me Good to see him and talk lightly which helps pass the first 15km of uphill. Its remarkable how much more normal I feel today after yesterday - guess the sunshine helps too.
Wonderful countryside in this region - like the lakes without the traffic and higher up of course.Lots of eagles around soaring above us for long periods of the ride.
Stopped in St Flour town to wait for Nick as we'd managed to lose him within the first 50km - he's nowhere near as fit as I thought - one moment he was with us on the climb, the next he wasn't and it was just too much for myself and the crew (in the van) to retrace the route and find him so we relied on mobile texts to direct him to us. We completed the final 100km+ together and pretty late by the time we parked in the hotel therefore no massage for me as Ed had spent over 9 hours in the car today - not happy as the massage is one of the things you look forward to all day. Crew were unhappy that the day was un-necessarily long (me waiting for friend etc and 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
Conditions: perfect
Feel good factor: 7/10

Stage 8
Very hot on the ride to Toulouse. 42 degees on the road and 34 in the (didn't see much of it) shade..
Energy sapping 180km in wine and sunflower country. Passed a stunning town called Villefranche - worth a visit.
Today was possibly one of the toughest days given the hot conditions regardless of the (relatively easy) terrain - just hard to get a rhythm going which is all important. Also, adjusting still after the cold and wet of the first week I think..
Need the rest day soon. After my leg massage I worked on the bike preparing things for an early start tomorrow - 224km stage into the Pyrenees.
Bed later than normal - 23:30 - ran out of time again.

Calories burned in the saddle: 6,100
Time in the saddle: 6 hrs 20 mins
Conditions: v. hot / sticky (drank 8 litres today and need more)
Feel good factor: 5/10

Stage 9
Another monster stage today taking me in to the Pyrenees. Sunny, lukewarm start from Novotel in Toulouse - big city.
happy bunny as I'd managed to sort my chain out - all clean blinging gold and well lubed! Also put on my full carbon Lightweight wheels - all helps psychologically as much as anything else.
Such a long and winding start today - you kn ow 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).
Joined by Graham Bater on the Pyresourde and kept a good pace going and again over the aspin (climbs are close together) where we were met by a crowd of locals (farmers mainly) at the top - many of whom were there to watch the tour - getting a good spot 2 days ahead. As luck would have it the heavens opened again all the way (2km/ 30km descent) down the valled to the hotel - no the best way to end a ride as the legs get cold etc. Kit completely soaked and had to wear winter gloves to protect from the cold . Did well today though.
Town is an old spa town - looks like a North Wales national park town...

Calories burned in the saddle: 8,200
Time in the saddle: 8 hrs
Conditions: perfect then awful!
Feel good factor: 8/10

Stage 10
This year's official 'etape du tour' stage was Cruel. A case of merd coup folled by a merd sandwich today. On paper the stage was fairly tough but I've certqainly done tougher rides, however the inclement weather simply made today one of the toughest I had experienced in a long time. In fact nothing could have prepared me for the amount of rain, freezing cold rain that greeted me at the start and stayed with me all day over each climb and kilometer.
Rivers of rain pouring down from the hill sonto the roads - cows and sheep bells rattling away in the distance, the sound of streams around - everywhere green, very green and wet - as wet as it gets.
Its raw here - not as welcoming as the alps. Reminds me of north wales but a lot higher and more dramatic of course.
Ascending the tourmalet was terrible - headwind going through La Mongie and was so cold bnear the summit that I can't belive it didn't turn to snow. (above 2000m).
I was soaked through, puddles in my shoes and winter tights , gore tex jacket you name it - was all drenched . By now the chill was getting throuugh to my bones - skinny torso providing a poor barrier.
One of the worst things today was 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 - illustrated by the amount of condensation of the car windows..
It then started to thunder and echo around the sharp peaks near the summit. It as as though the world was ending.
I had to seek temporary refuge at the top (in a small cafe / restaurant) and wait for my support crew to help. I couldn't even converse with them properly by the time they arrived. Just signals and grunts to give me dry warm clothes so that I could ride the rest of the day and finish. Within 30 mins I was dry, re-clothed and relatively human again. The rain carried on all the way up the terrible hautacam - a very tough slog butt 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
Conditions: terrible
Feel good factor: 2/10
ipod tune: ocean rain - echo and the bunnymen.
tears dry on their own - amy winehouse

Martyn Jones - Mule - Tourmalet Pass photos & quote

Thanks guys - bars doing perfectly - not eating as much now things are getting hot in the provence region but still around 3 per day - the hunza nuts are doing me proud at the moment - one more day in the hot energy sapping roads to digne les bains tomorrow then its the alps...still 2 days ahead of le tour...

cheers from a tired but healthy mule.

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

New Forest Triathlon

Two video clips from a recent race organised by Race New Forest:

Look out for the great MuleBar banner positioning....

Click here

Flying miles for mencap

Marcus Woof, a Clinical Director for Solihull Care Trust, is flying across the UK on August 1st.....

'Flying Miles for MENCAP'

On Friday August 1st 2008 a fellow pilot and I will be flying across the UK to raise money for Mencap.

Our challenge is to start out just before dawn from our home aerodrome at Shobdon, Herefordshire in a small single engine light aircraft and fly to 6 principal airports in the English regions, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, covering 1200 miles in one day. Our routing will be:







Royal MENCAP are supporting the event, and it is hoped that the Regional groups will become involved and that supporters, service users, families and carers can join us afterwards to celebrate.

Visit his site at

Monday, 14 July 2008

Tour de France Challenge - Stages 3 - 6

Stage 3
Long epic Breton roads...finally heading out of this region, South of the Loire where the weather is better I hope. Felt like an age stuck in the North West = the strong westerly wind has ben the biggest handicap so far and no more prominent than today#s 208km stage - most of it into a headwind.
Passed some spectacular roadside creations en route - castles made of haystacks, gigantic bicyclesdraped in flowers...all out of passion for 'le tour'.

Gentleman's Code of Conduct - there are many unwritten rules obeyed by road of which is to welcome the company of another rider regardless of age, sex, fitness etc. If you're passing, say hello or at least signal and move on (eg wave) or have a quick chat.
It never ceases to amaze me how such rules are either unknown or disregarded...its the type of thing you value when riding 200km alne into a headwind!
Met a couple of scotsmen who riding parts of some tour stages, one of which was today's. The first of the two riders seemed to understand the code of conduct, the second didn't. Anyway, I caught up with his friend further up the road to chat and he appears to ignore me preferring to take it as a competitive manouvre thing I know he thinks I'm racing him down a small hill, he catches me up, passes me on the incline and runs out of brath before the small summmit...i pass him bite my tongue for a momnet then wish him luck as he prepares to get his breath back... quel plonker?!!

Pretty hard stage in all..

Time in saddle: 7hours 18 mins
Calories burned in the saddle: 6700
Feel good factor: 7/10

Stage 4 = Cholet TT
Rode the time trial (TT) course at the same pace ass I would a long other words today was like a recover day for me. Took around an hour taking it easy spinning the legs before returning to the hotel for an hours leg and back massage. This time the massage was a little deeper now that I am able to handle it and benefit from it.
My masseur Ed (who works with the Tweenies and some well known WWF fighters!) does a good job abd sys that my muscles are in good shape - not damaged or tangled which is welcome news.

Elvis himself would be pleased with the calories consumption to date - put simply I am eating (having to) obscene amounts to replace what I am burning off of course.. I've heard that its almost impossible to replace what you lose in a typical day so its a real job just staying at the same weight.
During each ride I am drinking around 6 - 8 litres of carbohydrate drink, eating 4 - 6 energy bars (mule bars) and 3 -5 energy gels (with caffeine) . On top of this I have some savoury stuff about half way through each stage with a coke or two. Its a massive amount and yet I never feel bloated. Breakfast and dinner are 2/3 times normal size.

Conditions: very windy, 23 degrees, changeable
Calories burned in the saddle: 710
Feel good factor: 7/10

Stage 5 - longest stage of the tour
Entered what feels like real rural France today around halfway through the massive stage. Got lost due to bad directions early on so (would you believ e it) I actually rode 10km further than the tour stage route.
Contryside South of Richelieu was great - sunflowers, corn fields - temperature warmed up a little before showers returned again so rain jacket got another soaking.
The most outstanding feature of the day was the incredible road surfaces and how epic they were - 10 miles straight over the horizon and then another 10 miles - more than I have ever seen - even in America. This is bigh country here and not much going out other than farming.

With the help oif a tail wind I rode the stage in only 7hrs 36 mins

Calories burned in the saddle: 8,200
Feel good factor: 9/10

nb: lost appetite in the evening before my meal. Suddenly felt a chill, strted shaking violently and had to wrap up - diuorhhea followed and I went to sleep feeling drained and helpless after what had been a good ride earlier - the tour can do this to you - one small bug from nowhere and you're toast. I hope to recover in the morning..

Stage 6 - Super-Besse
So hard, so hard.Last night's sickness reduced my appetite to nearly zero at breakfast - I had to eat and drink though without being sick so I gradually piled on the calories hoping I would stay together for the 195km in the massif central mountains. The though of such a long ride today was especially tough to deal with - I felt car sick, weak and down.
On top of this, the weather had taken a bad turn yet again more rain and colder all of a sudden - down to 13 degrees and drizzle most of the day.
Dressed in winter clothing I set off and slowly bu surely managed my energies through the undulating back roads as I climbed to around 1000 metres of altitude midway through. Still hardly able to eat I had to put my fath into the energy drink for calories..During my time in this sport I've cycled around 200,000 miles since I was 12 and (luckily) I haven't experienced many days as tough as this. What helps is a strong sense of managing yourself, your physical and mental resources and trusting that your training will see you through.
I finished it well in the end and very glad to pile in the back of the support van and head off down the mountain to the hotel for dinner.

Calories burned in the saddle: 7,200
Time in the saddle: 7 hrs 45 mins
Conditions: awful
Feel good factor: 3/10 (hardest day for me so far)

nb: crew started calling me "sir" and "boss" now - not sure whether out of respect or fear that I might crack / snap and fall apart!?

Tour de France Challenge - Stages 1 & 2

Stage one done well in 6hrs 33 mins yesterday. The finish is quite unusual being in the middle of nowhere and quite hilly for a first day's stage. Passed a group of american cyclists on the stage who were either trying to give cycling a bad name or were just plain rude! I left them and later discovered that they were supposedly riding the first ten stages... only to see their support car later on driving them with their bikes atop! They looked good though!
Great hotel food again last night - must be the norm for Brittany.

Weather : unpredicatable, windy, bit of rain near the start and then sun to finish the day.
Time in the saddle: 6 hours 33mins
Calories: 6,800
Feel good factor: 8/10
Misc: got lost coming out of Brest and ended up doing 4 km more than I should of done by the finish. Even with sat-nav and maps the small provincial roads can be difficult to navigate - it should be a lot more staright forward by the time we reach the high mountains.

PS - picked up a few sponsor emails from my just giving site - thanks to all - I hope to be able to thank-you individually when I return.

Stage two
Lots to do before I set off this morning - bike needed a complete clean after yesterday na re-oiling - no mechanic means I have to do these things myself on top of the day's ride.
More showers predicted for today and it turned out to be true halfway through the stage - soaked through in no time, cold, grey and miserable (like England in May!). Had to put on my winter gear and see it through over the (pretty steep) Breton hills - scenery like Surrey but with Welsh stone villages.
The stage finish is pretty tight - will be interesting to see what chaos ensuses when the pros tackle it on Sunday.
Short (45 mins by car) transfer from stage finish to hotel in Dinan near in order to wake up near to the start tomorrow. Fantastic bufffet food at the hotel - huge fill! Helps the morale a great deal when the food is good. Really looking forward to getting out of Brittany, heading South below the Loire to get warmer (probably regret saying that)! 208km on the menu tomorrow.

Weather: like England in (a wet) May. About 13 - 17 degrees
Time in the saddle: 5 hours 15 mins
Calories: 5,300
Feel good factor: 8/10

PS - Big Thanks to the boys at Richard Hale School in Hertford for their fundraising efforts to date - COME ON LADS - more to go and I know you can smash the previous year 7 fundraising total.