Chris Hill and 14 other riders in waterproofs left London this morning on the first leg of the Tour de MIPIM. And even though the rain turned to sleet on reaching Calais spirits in the peloton remained high.
Thusday 9 March: Last minute preparations
Just as we were getting a bit depressed about the weather - rain all the way by the look of things, news came in from Tour de MIPIM headquarters that we are within reach of raising £100,000 in sponsorship for our four charities. Considering there are only 15 of us this is a towering achievement so we are all feeling chuffed about that and thanks to all our sponsors. We look forward to meeting you at 3:00pm on Tuesday 14 March on the sea front at Cannes!
John Rudge of Capita Percy Thomas is our chef and I have volunteered to be sous chef number 2 which I think means "plongeur". JJ Lorraine has been out provisioning and says he has bought 100 kgs of pasta and a boatload of Testosterone Cyclohexanecarboxylate which sounds messy from a catering point of view.
I went out training yesterday morning in the rain and discovered that my waterproof stuff wasn't - which necessitated my umptyfifth visit to Condor Cycles for more gear. It is impossible to come out of that shop having spent less than £100. I am going to win Condor customer of the month for March for certain.
So we set off at 2:00am on Friday morning from outside the British Museum - anyone who would like to come and wave us off is very welcome - we are not expecting a big crowd.
Friday 10 March: Outside Calais
7am. Location: a rubbish strewn car park somewhere near Calais. The first peloton of six riders in natty matching helmets are setting off towards St Omer under a low grey sky. There is a touch of sleet in the air.
We met the Tour de MIPIM bus at 2am outside the British Museum. The bus is sight to behold. Externally red, white and blue but covered in 50 big white spots each of which contains a sponsors logo. Internally it is like a dodgy nightclub, alll dark (there are no windows) with black leather seats and carpet up the walls. It certainly looks like it has seen some action. Apparently the last occupiers were the Birmingham white reggae band UB40.
Upstairs there are just enough bunk beds for all of us and so between London and Calais we all got our heads down and slept the sleep of the just.
I am hitting the road in the third peloton at about 2 pm - depending on my condition I will update this blog after that.