Covering 2,000 miles in 21 stages over 23 days, 2015 welcomes the 102nd edition of the world famous Tour de France.
Watched by millions of cycling fanatics across the globe, few people know that anyone can actually join the tour.
So if you’ve spent years dreaming of winning the famous yellow jersey or if you’re just looking to get fit, joining the tour as an amateur is a fantastic opportunity that is more attainable than you may think. But before strap on your helmet, here are a few things you might need to do first.
So you’ve decided to do it, but where do you start? Bradley Wiggins says it best.
“Cycle-based training is about consistency – you should do 30 minutes every day rather than kill yourself for four hours on a weekend. Regular but intensive 20-30-minute sessions, working at 75-80% of your maximum heart-rate, builds your overall fitness far quicker.”
Getting to your ideal weight is essential if you’re planning on tackling one stage or aiming to do the entire tour. Factors such as your age, gender, genetics and most importantly your body fat percentage play their own role and all must be considered before you attempt to reach your optimum weight. Strengthening your core with Pilates and yoga won’t help you drop the pounds much quicker but both are essential in strengthening your body for the rigors of the tour.
Sometimes overlooked and no less important is your mental fitness. Endurance cycling can not only take a toll on your body but if you don’t have a healthy mental attitude it can have a disastrous impact on your psyche. It’s essential to know your limits, so assess your body’s strengths and weaknesses as you train and prepare but remember there’s no point investing time in your fitness if your bike will let you down.
Buy a New Bike
A bike that doesn’t fit your body or of poor quality will not only waste the energy you’re using to pedal but also risks injury to your body, especially your back and wrists. A new bike can be a costly investment, but if you don’t have a spare £10,000 to spend like the Chris Froomes of the world, don’t fear, there are lots of other options available.
£300 to £500 will get you a passible road bike but if you’re able and invested, spending over a £1000 increases the quality of bicycle considerably. With so much money involved it’s best to research thoroughly and take you time and test any bike before purchasing.
Do it for Charity
The tour can allow you to test your body to its limits and will greatly improve your fitness but it can also be a fantastic way to raise money for charity.
Established in 1993, The L’Étape du Tour is the most famous amateur event that allows cyclists to ride across every inch of the tour’s route. Many charities including Children with Cancer and the Great Ormond Street Hospital have allocated spots which allow you to book your place whilst knowing you are raising money for their good causes.
Tour de Force, which begins one week before the tour, is another example of bringing philanthropy and cycling together. Their “Tour Taster” packages range from smaller 3 day experiences to the full three weeks, giving you the opportunity to challenge yourself against every stage. Each rider is required to pay for their food and accommodation while also agreeing to a minimum sponsorship amount for the event’s charity The William Wates Memorial Trust, which aims to keep disadvantaged children from crime and violence by engaging them in sport, art and education.
So if you’ve ever thought about what it would be like to ride in the Tour de France, get on you bike because joining as an amateur is easier than you might have thought!
Are you itching to join the Tour?