Sundried ambassador John Fitzgerald from Fitzedgear completes 467km distance to celebrate the 117th anniversary of the inaugural stage of the Tour de France on his 1940s fixed gear bike.
So after weeks of building up an 80 year-old frame with parts from eBay and anywhere else I could find them, the 1st of July arrived. The 1st of July is significant because it marks the 117th anniversary of the inaugural stage of the 1903 Tour de France.
Ever since I first heard of the Tour de France, I decided I wanted to do the 467km distance they covered on my vintage bike. The original start time was 3.16pm, so I lined up at the canal with a few minutes to go as the pocket watch on my moustache handlebars ticked down to 3.16pm. As I set off, the excitement of what was ahead and the historic significance of the time and date was going around in my head, so much so that 2 minutes passed before I started my GPS.
As I settled in, I realised I had a long way to go. The area I picked was the canal in loais, Ireland with many back roads and routes so I constantly changed routes and directions so as not to get too familiar with any one loop. Strangely, after 24 hours, 48 minutes, and 50 seconds, all routes look familiar!
After 10pm, with the night shift coming in and 140km done, I put on my high visibility jacket but then took it straight back off to put on my rain jacket as it began to rain and continued to rain for the next 6 hours. By the time the sun started to come back up it was 4.30am; I was tired as the night and rain had drained most of the power out of my legs. I was on 235km (roughly half way) and felt broken. I knew I could go on but that feeling of how fresh I had been at 3.16pm heading into the first 235km and then the realisation of how I was now feeling did play some mind games on me.
I carried on and, like a solar panel, I could feel my battery recharge as the sun came out. At 11am, the 300km mark was passed and it was a strange moment. I have done full Ironman triathlon in the past and the cycle stage of 180km is hard, but somehow with 167km to go on this adventure I persuaded myself I was nearly there. I still hadn't got my speed up to where I wanted to be but I was feeling good.
My bike is a 1940s track bike built up to be a path racer with a 16t fixed gear. A fixed gear is a bike with no freewheel so if you stop cycling, the bike stops moving. I like that about fixed gear bikes as when you have finished your cycle, when you look at the distance travelled you know you pedalled every single one of the metres shown.
At around 4pm I entered into the last 100km. At this point I really persuaded myself I was nearly done and at one of my food stops, which was at the wall of my house, my two children ran out to meet me with an excitement of "are you finished?" I could tell if I had been finished they had something planned, but unfortunately I had to say no. After saying goodbye to my children, I rang my wife who informed me they had made up a poster for the finish. A quick calculation told me I'd be finishing at 10pm - a good bit after my 3 year-old's bedtime - so a quick plan to do a fake finish at 8pm was hatched. I continued to cycle and was feeling good, but still with a lower speed than I had hoped.
8pm arrived and I was met on the road by my family with a giant "bravo papa" sign and a drawing of a bicycle with a sun and moon. It was amazing to see them but it would have been a lot better if I was returning home with them and heading to bed. Unfortunately I had 40km still to do, but the break, which had been the longest of the trip, had given me my legs back so I powered on and the last 40km seemed to fly by. I felt as strong as I did 31 hours earlier.
At 10.37pm, after 467km, I finished my anniversary of the inaugural stage of the Tour de France. I would have been placed 33rd out of the 60 starters but remembering I did it on modern roads not the dirt tracks these early pioneers did it on. The winner of this stage and overall winner was Maurice Garin who did the stage in 17 hours 45 minutes 13 seconds, averaging 27km/h.
Would I do it again? Yes! Am I going to do something different? Yes! As I was doing it, I hatched a plan to complete the Mizan to Malin bottom-to-top of Ireland and since completing my 1903 challenge I haven't found anyone who has done it on a fixed gear 80 year-old bike so this could be next. As someone once said, "if you want to be the best in your field, make it a small field."
That time of the year is rolling round again and it's time to start thinking about what you're going to buy the man in your life for father's day. If the father in your life is a triathlete, cyclist, runner, or active gym-goer, we have the perfect gifts for him.
1. Race Number Belt – £10
If your budget is fairly small, you can still buy an awesome gift for a triathlete or someone who regularly takes part in races. A race number belt is ideal for triathletes or anyone who does multi-sport races like aquathlon and duathlon. It's something people often don't think to buy for themselves, especially if they are new to the sport.
2. Seamless Boxer Shorts – £10
Any dad will appreciate a comfortable pair of boxer shorts, but the active dad will especially like the Sundried seamless boxer shorts because they're designed for active people and don't chafe or rub during sports and physical activity.
3. Reusable Eco Coffee Cup – £20
If your dad is a big coffee drinker, he will love an eco-friendly reusable coffee cup that saves him money every time he buys a coffee to go as well as being good for the planet. This coffee cup is anti-spill so he can take it on his commute to work and drink his coffee wherever he goes. Perfect!
4. Skipping Rope – £20
If the dad in your life likes to keep fit, stay slim and work out regularly, he is sure to love a great quality skipping rope specifically designed for gym workouts. Perhaps he uses a beat up old rope in his garage or has never even thought about skipping for fitness before. This is sure to be an upgrade as the speed rope is designed for tricks like the double-under and facilitates high level skipping. It has grooves to the handles so it's easy to hold and he will be a pro in no time! It even comes with an expert skipping guide which will be ideal if he's never tried skipping before.
5. Swim Goggles – £25
All triathletes and swimmers need a great pair of swim goggles, but it's something people don't focus on when buying new kit. Treat him to a premium pair of swim goggles so he can get that quick upgrade he needs and perform at his best during training and racing.
6. A Biodegradable T-shirt – £30
For the more eco-conscious man, a t-shirt which is biodegradable will make the ultimate gift. This fitness top is sweat wicking, quick drying, and super stretchy making it perfect for all types of sports from football and running to cycling, CrossFit and more. It's super soft and comfortable and the classic style means it can be worn as casual wear as well as for active pursuits.
7. Cycling Overshoes – £32
Cycling overshoes are the type of cycling accessory that often get overlooked but are perfect for cycling in cold weather as well as getting more aerodynamic during races. If your dad is a keen cyclist, he is sure to appreciate an great quality pair of cycling overshoes which will complement his cycling kit and help him really look the part when he's out on his bike.
8. A T-shirt Made From Recycled Coffee Grounds – £40
Something a little different for the coffee lover in your life! If your dad already has everything a coffee lover could ever want, how about a fitness t-shirt that is actually made from recycled coffee grounds? This t-shirt is sweat wicking and fast drying so he won't have to worry about sweat patches, as well as being super flattering and comfortable. He won't want to take it off!
9. Gym Rings – £40
If the dad in your life is a bit more adventurous, a set of gym rings will make the perfect Father's Day gift. Training with gym rings may well be something he's never considered before, so this will be a great gift for him. Every purchase comes with a free expert gym rings guide so he can become a pro in no time and show off his new moves!
10. A Premium Running Top – £70
On the higher end of the budget spectrum we have a premium quality running top. Some people can be guilty of never treating themselves or running in the same old tatty t-shirt forever. Treat your dad to a technical, comfortable running top that is versatile and stylish and he can wear with pride not only while running but as casual wear too.
"As a leader in cycling technology, Garmin are proud to provide the teams with top-of-the-line products – from GPS bike computers to cycling awareness accessories and multisport GPS watches – for training, racing and adventure in between."
Garmin International have announced sponsorship of nine professional cycling teams in 2017, including five world tour teams and four mountain biking teams.
Garmin will continue to sponsor the Cannondale-Drapac Pro Cycling Team and the Movistar Team, and welcomes the Astana Pro Team, FDJ Pro Team and Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka this year. Additionally, Garmin will continue its support of the following mountain biking teams: Trek Factory Racing, CLIF Pro Team, CUBE Action Team and Scott-SRAM.
“Garmin started sponsoring professional cycling teams nearly a decade ago, and we are excited to continue our commitment to the sport,” said Jon Cassat, Garmin vice president of communications. “As a leader in cycling technology, we are proud to provide the teams with top-of-the-line products – from GPS bike computers to cycling awareness accessories and multisport GPS watches – for training, racing and adventure in between.”
Several teams will be equipped with Garmin products to increase performance and help provide a safer cycling environment. Edge cycling computers will provide data and key metrics to cyclists, as well as GPS and navigational support. The world’s first cycling radar, Varia, will warn of vehicles approaching from behind, while a tail light brightens and flashes to alert drivers of a cyclist ahead. Additionally, many of the sponsored teams will use Garmin Forerunner GPS running watches, fēnix multisport GPS watches and a range of vívo activity trackers which will monitor the distance cyclists travel, the calories they burn and how much sleep they get every night. The teams will also benefit from the Garmin Index smart scales that measure weight, body fat, skeletal muscle mass and more.
The ever-expanding Garmin fitness segment develops technologies to enhance and promote healthy and active lifestyles. Whether users are cyclists, runners, swimmers, multi-sport athletes, or simply looking to stay active throughout the day, there is a product that can help them reach their health and fitness goals.
The Vector 3/3S features a sleek new design providing cyclists with greater cornering clearance and improved stack height for smarter ergonomics, while LED lights on the pedals display important setup and maintenance information. The Vector 3/3S is a direct-measurement power meter – the sensors are housed in the pedals – so it delivers reliable, accurate data1 on every training session.
“As cyclists aim to beat their personal best on their next race or Gran Fondo, the affordable and innovative Vector 3/3S will help them ride farther, stronger and more often,” said Dan Bartel, Garmin vice president of worldwide sales. “By redesigning the pedal and eliminating the pod, cyclists have the ability to quickly transfer from bike to bike and still receive advanced performance data that takes their training to the next level."
With the Vector 3 dual-sensing pedal-based power meter, cyclists have the ability to see right and left leg power independently. Measuring cadence, total power, left-right balance and advanced cycling dynamics, the Vector 3 shows cyclists how and where they are producing power and helps them tailor their training around their specific strengths and weaknesses to improve their form. The Vector 3 tracks Seating/Standing Position to determine when and how long cyclists are in each so they can gauge position effectiveness, while Power Phases show how riders are currently producing power with every pedal stroke, and Platform Center Offset helps determine where power is applied on the pedal, ensuring proper cleat position.
The affordable, single-sensing Vector 3S uses the forces detected on the left pedal to measure cadence and approximate total power, and can easily be upgraded later to the dual-sensing system. The Vector 3/3S fully integrates with the Garmin cycling ecosystem, including the VariaTM Rearview Radar, Varia UT800 Smart Headlight and the new Edge® 1030.ANT+ ®technology not only lets cyclists receive structured indoor training by pairing their Vector 3/3S with power-based training systems like TrainerRoad, Zwift and more, but they will also gain access to compatible 3rd party training platforms including Strava and TrainingPeaksTM. Meanwhile, Bluetooth® technology allows post-ride analysis, data sharing, mapping, route planning and more to be integrated into training through Garmin ConnectTM – an online community where people can connect and compete by joining challenges, encourage each other’s successes and share their triumphs via social media.
The Vector 3/3S features up to 120 hours of battery life. The Vector 3 has a suggested retail price of £849.99 and £499.99 for the Vector 3S. The optional Vector 3S upgrade pedal has a suggested retail price of £399.99. The ever-expanding Garmin fitness segment develops technologies to enhance and promote healthy and active lifestyles. Whether users are runners, cyclists, swimmers,multi-sport athletes, or simply looking to stay active throughout the day, there is a product that can help them reach their health and fitness goals. For decades, Garmin has pioneered new GPS navigation and wireless devices and applications that are designed for people who live an active lifestyle. Garmin serves five primary business units, including automotive, aviation, fitness, marine, and outdoor recreation.
Lee Patmore is a Sundried ambassador who suffers from life-limiting illnesses. Along with his band of brothers, he took on the impressive challenge of travelling from Land's End to John O'Groats on a hand-cycle. Lee talks us through his incredible experience, which was in aid of Help For Heroes.
About The Challenge
In May 2017 I started on a journey that would take me from the northernmost point of the UK to the southernmost point. The legendary John O’Groats to Lands End adventure, but not the normal route that is around 874 miles, this journey has a major twist. I’m a military veteran and also a Help for Heroes beneficiary, and belong to the group within Help for Heroes know as Band of Brothers. Along with two other Band of Brothers and a support crew, we took on a journey that would see us cover 1,300 miles, along with close to 60,000ft of climbing. On our route we visited the Help for Heroes Recovery Centres and a number of active military bases. We started on the 1st of May and finished on the 29th of May. For me, it was all about arm power and the mental battle to push myself beyond limits I’ve never been to, and the daily battle just to get out of bed and get in my hand-cycle.
We started our journey in John O’Groats, which was very cold, very windy, and just miserable weather. Approximately two and a half months before we started, during what should have been the peak of my training period, I had a major flare-up with my Fibromyalgia. This ended up leaving me bed-ridden for two weeks. When I say bed-ridden, I got out of bed once per day to go to the loo, and the rest of the time I was in extreme agony with tiredness and just couldn’t function. The flare-up came without warning and basically ended my training prematurely along with removing the ability to tap into the full level of fitness I had achieved. At this stage, just before we set off, I could just about manage 2 miles in one go on a flat route. Nothing like the 40 to 60 miles per day needed, especially when you start in Scotland and know the terrain is anything but flat.
The first three days were hell.
The hills were relentless and seemed never ending. There were some great downhills that saw me coast at speeds of up to 40mph, but these were short lived and nowhere near enough time for a recovery to tackle the next hill. It was clear that I needed some help getting up the hills. The guys with me would get off their road bike and take the weight enough to allow my arms to continue to power myself uphill.
At this stage I had a theory. As long as my arms could physically move and power the cranks to get me up the hill, I was still working. If my arms failed (and they did) I would get off my hand-cycle and with a locked out left leg, I would drag my Handcycle and weak leg up the hill as far as possible. If my legs failed and I couldn’t get myself and my hand-cycle up the hill by my own doing, I would call it for that day and we would then need to decide if we stayed within the time frames and planned stops or if we would move the stop and then try to make up the time later on. Thankfully, it never came to that, as we made all the planned stops and even managed to get in a double-leg to give us an extra day's rest towards the end.
The real turning point was day five. Out of nowhere, my fitness came in again, and as much as I still needed the short recovery stops, I was not given help from this point on.
Day one was the farthest I’d ever cycled in one day, and day three was the first time I’d cycled more than two days in a row.
The never-ending hills
Before we got to Colchester, we had some of the worst sets of hills on the way to Catterick. We are talking a couple of miles with gradients staying between 10% and 15%. With many short recovery stops I took on each hill and made it to the top. My speed was very slow, cadence was also very low, but I powered up each hill and sections of each hill under my own power and was determined to not be beat.
The scenery was epic.
A memory to hold forever along with the achievement of the journey. I have photos that spark a memory, but I was in such a tired state each day that it was only about completing that day’s route. I wasn’t interested in where I was or what I’d just ridden up, it was about how far we still have to complete that day’s route.
For me, it was about each day was its own day, and a unique challenge in itself, with good friends and excellent support.