Guest blog by Helen Russell
In all the years that I have travelled to France to watch the Tour de France I never imagined that one day I would actually ride it - but that is what I will be doing this summer! Yes you read that correctly- I will be cycling the entire route of the world’s hardest cycle race one day before the professional peloton with the aim of raising £1m for Cure Leukaemia.
Ten years ago ex-England footballer Geoff Thomas was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukaemia and was given less than three months to live. However, after receiving treatment at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, he entered remission and just six months later cycled the route of the Tour de France. A decade later he has put an anniversary team together to ride the route again and earlier this year Geoff asked me to be part of his Le Tour-One Day Ahead team. Although my mind was saying “No way” for some reason the words “Yes” escaped out of my mouth!
So, from 3-25th July I will ride 3344 kilometres over 21 stages, covering a combination of some short punchy climbs early on, the cobbles of the Seraing to Cambrai stage, the brutal 18 hairpin ascent of the Lacets de Montvernier and a classic climax on Alpe d'Huez. Over the three weeks I will have to cycle 9 flat, 3 hilly and 7 mountain stages as well as 2 time trial routes. At an average of around 100 miles a day for three weeks this will be, without a doubt, the hardest thing I will ever have attempted. People keep asking me about the route but I ‘m too sacred to actually look closely - in this case ignorance is definitely bliss!
I will be cycling as part of a small team and only one of two women taking part. I am hoping that not only will my participation help raise £1 million to help beat Leukaemia but also show that women can ride the same route as the men and boost the argument for a women’s Tour de France.
Normally I would be racing triathlons at this time of year and as I had pre-qualified for this European Aquathlon Championships I had expected to be focusing on swimming and running this season. However, in order to be able to complete this challenge I need to do specific focused training and so have not done any running for a few months and am only swimming as a way of recovering and using different muscles.
My training has not surprisingly consisted of long rides and some interval sessions. I finally got to meet my teammates at a training camp in Aspen at the end of May where we enjoyed a week of riding at altitude which will hopefully stand us in good stead come the French mountains in July.
The training is definitely taking its toll on my body. I am not used to riding so many miles and have been feeling quite fatigued.
It is essential that I eat healthily to keep fit and aid my recovery. Therefore I was delighted to receive a jar of Lucy Bee Organic Coconut Oil. I need the right kind of fuel and a diet rich in natural, nutritious foods and so will be adding the coconut oil to my diet to help keep healthy and to be able to push my body to its peak performance. The hours of cycling outdoors is also causing havoc with my skin and I was surprised to learn that Lucy Bee Coconut Oil can also be used as a moisturiser and lip balm - I definitely needed to use it too after reaching an altitude of 12,095ft in Aspen! I might even try it out as a conditioning treatment for my wild curly hair!
So, wish me Bonne Chance for Le Tour this summer and hopefully I’ll make the Champs Elysees!
You can make a donation on Helen’s Just Giving Page: https://www.justgiving.com/HelenRussell-LeTour/
Helen is a Great Britain age group triathlete. She is a former age group World and European Duathlon champion and European Triathlon champion. You can follow Helen’s preparations for Le Tour One Day Ahead at @helengoth
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