What with all the Tour de France hype this side of the Channel over the summer it is easy to forget this was not the first time England has welcomed Le Tour! Back in 1994 our very own home town of Portsmouth played host to the start and end of stage 5 of that years tour. 




So on its 20th anniversary we though there was no better time then now to celebrate this historic ride then by seeing how we stacked up against the pros. Of course we would all be riding fixed so no gears, coasting or generally being a pussy for us 😉
The ride started late at gone 11am, just enough time for the hangovers to clear up and Tony to knock out a quick 4.7 mile morning Park Run, something he would regret later in the day. 
 
After looping our way along the Southsea seafront, past Gunwharf Quays and the historic dockyard we headed back east and towards the first climb of the day up Farlington Avenue (a particularly steep residential climb on to the top of Portsdown Hill). From here we wound our way north west through the South Downs some 30 ish miles to the cathedral city of Winchester where the hole in my stomach due to the lack of any breakfast was filled with far too much pineapple, apple juice and a large helping of chips (yum!).
 

Tony was already feeling the effects of a fast park run as he got the first twinges of cramp only 9 miles in! and as we flew down the extremely straight roman roads towards Andover he released he might have over done it and told us he would be calling it a day in Basingstoke and getting the train home. Being the supportive friends that we are we said that’s fine and tried to make him feel good about dropping out of the very ride he suggested.

 

The road from Andover to Basingstoke was lovely and had us back on some quieter country lanes, weaving around lovely thatched cottages and stopping at one or two rather nice country pubs as well as passing a small army of goats.

 

Upon entering Basingstoke we managed to convince Tony that no one was catching any trains and all he needed was some food. Due partly to his competitive nature and partly to not having the energy to argue he agreed to continue! Top Lad 

 

The next section of the route took us south towards familiar roads and the market town of Petersfield. The first 10 miles or so were on a busy but narrow road full of rolling hills. Our lack of speed on the assents soon had us making friends with passing cars as they beeped their support for us, at least that’s what I assume they were doing…

 

After another hydration/pub stop we switched on to a quieter road which would have us climbing to Steep (yes that is the actual name of the town) before plunging down to Petersfield and some much needed dinner. Not content with just one meal Kirill confused the new member of staff serving us by ordering 2 of the same main meals along with a huge plate of nachos to start.

 

By the time we had finished all our multiple meals and were back on the bikes the sun had set but the night was still warm. The last 25 miles would take in 3 of the steepest climbs around South Harting, West Marden and one final ascent of Portsdown Hill.

 

By the time we could see the city lit up below us there was only the Eastern Road and Seafront to go.

 

After I needed a nature break mid way along the seafront and Tony was still trying to work out why he just cycled past his front door in order to complete the last half mile to the finish it just left Ben and Kirill to sprint for glory. However after Kirill’s early break Ben drew level and they shared the honers.

 

Back in the day it was Nicola Minali who took the win, completing the course in just 4hr 10min 49sec, putting our ride time of 7hr 8min 56sec to shame, but ill take it as 121.5 miles at 17mph average with 5,283 feet of elevation on a track bike is not a bad effort 🙂

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Job done and all still standing