The Elite pros aren't the only ones that plan meticulously for our sport's blue ribbon event, the Tour de France. In fact, local legend of the North West, Michael Gates has been training for four years for his lap of France this summer!
Michael had planned to complete the route of the 1948 Tour, the first to introduce a yellow jersey for the race leader, this summer. And then the world changed. Here's his amazing response in his own words:
"Some may know me as Dr Toasted Teacake.
At my peak, I was 24 stone and as a 19 stone super-heavy weight boxer I was ready to try something new and lose more weight. A guy from work gave me his old bike and told me to get out on it. Over the 15 years since, I’ve become addicted, and it has been my dream to cycle the Tour de France. I decided anything is possible if you set your mind to it, and so for the past four years I have been training to complete the route of the 1948 edition, cycling 3,000 miles over 21 days around France.
Le Plan B
The arrival of Covid-19 brought my dream to an end, but I wanted to ensure my training didn’t go to waste, and to find a positive from the unfortunate change of events.
Le Plan B was in order - I decided to cycle 'Teacake's Tour Plan B’. This involved cycling the daily mileage and elevation of the 2020 Tour de France route from my house in Garstang, Lancashire. Living close to the Trough of Bowland, Yorkshire and the Lakes (are there other places? - Ed), I had plenty of amazing places to cycle the 21 Stages between 4th and 26th July.
My Tour's Stages were:
4th July Stage 1 - 106 miles
5th July Stage 2 - 118 miles
6th July Stage 3 - 123 miles
7th July Stage 4 - 98 miles
8th July Stage 5 - 114 miles
9th July Stage 6 - 119 miles
10th July Stage 7 - 104 miles
11th July Stage 8 - 87 miles
12th July Stage 9 - 96 miles
13th July Rest day
14th July Stage 10 - 106 miles
15th July Stage 11 - 104 miles
16th July Stage 12 - 135 miles
17th July Stage 13 - 119 miles
18th July Stage 14 - 122 miles
19th July Stage 15 - 109 miles
20th July Rest day
21st July Stage 16 - 102 miles
22nd July Stage 17 - 104 miles
23rd July Stage 18 - 104 miles
24th July Stage 19 - 99 miles
25th July Stage 20 - 22 miles (Mountain Time Trial Great Dunn Fell)
26th July Stage 21 - 76 miles
Total 2156 miles
The first few days were very hard. The typical northern weather with its wind and endless rain made the days relentlessly tough. Gone was the driest June on record. Standard Cold Dark North July instead.
The rain stayed persistent for most of the three weeks, more bad luck after such a dry spring and the lock-down period. I actually only had 4 days of the 21 where it stayed dry for the whole day. At least it was warm rain though!
The biggest frustration was not having a mechanic to clean my bike each night. But I got into the cleaning and re-lubing routine, and then making up my food for the next day before refuelling on pans of pasta and trying to sleep.
I had some great stages, though I think my favourite was Stage 12 where I cycled through the three great counties of Lancashire, Yorkshire and Cumbria climbing up Lamps Moss, Buttertubs and over Newby Head. I also really "enjoyed" my short Mountain Time Trial Stage 20 up Great Dunn Fell - this would be a great idea for the Tour of Britain (Agreed! - Ed)
Fundraising for Mind
I felt I should use this opportunity to raise money for Lancashire Mind as I have seen the heart-breaking effects of mental illness and suicide on the lives of several of my friends in my cycling and working life. I would like to raise awareness of mental wellbeing, and feel Lancashire Mind can put donations to good use to support those in our community.
If you feel able to donate to this worthwhile cause, I would really appreciate it.
Some interesting stats for my Tour:
• 21 stages
• 2 rest days
• Total distance 2,198.01 miles
• Time 140hrs 58mins 7 secs
• Total elevation 112,786ft 3.8 times up Everest
• Avg speed 16.8 mph
• Total calories 111,204
• 3 punctures (2 on the first day!)
For 19 Stages I used my Ribble carbon CGR SL 105 disc with 28mm tyres – an unbelievably comfy bike.
2 Stages Merida Reacto Ultegra rim brake - fast but not as comfortable as my Ribble.
I had to change one rear Continental GP5000 which was worn through after just 2,000 miles. Also one set of rear brake disc pads after 2,000 miles.
Most importantly – my riding fuel:
• 21 Wagon Wheels (jammy!)
• 21 Rice Krispie bars
• 42 salami and hummus sandwiches
• 3 emergency Mars bars
• One IPA
Chapeau Dr Teacake!