Have arrived safely in France and spent the afternoon sorting out my bike and getting ready for the ride ahead. Despite the sunny conditions, tomorrow’s weather forecast is pants, but the motivation we need is an evening visit to a Champagne producer at the end of the first day’s ride. Now if that doesn’t spur me on – nothing will.
The day started with a 5.30am alarm call (which is something I will have get used to all week long) and a short drive to Heathrow Terminal 5. Our group party of 70 Cycle Slammers must have significantly increased the BA passenger yield on the morning flight to Luxembourg and for those business people, who were used to a quiet flight reading the FT, we must have provided quite a shock as the noise levels of chattering and introductions must have made us sound like a school trip!
Bags collected, we boarded the team coach for the two hour transfer to Nancy. Looking around there were lots of guys like me – ‘40 somethings’ looking for a physical challenge – so we all had stories to tell about why the Dallaglio Flintoff Cycle Slam was the challenge for each of us.
Tonight’s resting place is the Novotel in Nancy, and the afternoon was spent finding the local supermarket (needed an ATM for Euros), prepping the bike and generally soaking up the atmosphere. The daily briefing showed the sheer scale of the organisation behind the Dallaglio Flintoff Cycle Slam event – nine Halfords mechanics; a medical team of five (including a paramedic ambulance); and assorted support vehicles that act as sweeper vans for those finding the going too tough. Hope I don’t need their services, but reassuring to know that help is there if you need it.
Next on the agenda is the carb loading evening meal, and then I am promising myself an early night. The post holiday 7 hour time difference jet lag is okay so far, but I really do need a full nights sleep to set me up for the 160km riding ahead of me tomorrow. Alarm call again at 5.30am; shower; breakfast and then away on the road in a medium paced group by 7am.
Wish me luck and keep those donations coming in – just £500 left to go to reach target.