WOW what an incredible 11 days. On 24th June I flew from Southampton – Rennes Airport as part of the “Athletes Angels” Therapy team, not really knowing what to expect I was a little nervous at the ‘Physio on Tour’ challenge ahead!
Nerves were quickly set aside when I met the rest of the support crew (all with their own bit of ‘crazy’ in order to get them through the coming weeks), the INCREDIBLE Tour leader, Sarah gave us a fantastic briefing and we were ready to go.
About the Tour….
• Run over 3 weeks covering EVERY stage of the Tour De France Route (a week ahead of the pro’s).
• A charity event, raising money for the William Wates Memorial Trust, supporting projects for disadvantaged & vulnerable young children.
• 40 ‘lifers’, who cycle the full 3 weeks and numerous ‘Tour Tasters’ who can do anything from 3-9 stages.
• Get up early (and when I say early, I mean EARLY…5am! For someone who doesn’t ‘do’ mornings this was a challenge and I felt sorry for those around me at that time of the morning)!
• If we had a transfer (which we did on 7 days) – help to unload ALL the bikes at the ride start.
• Kinesio tape/advice to any riders experiencing niggles pre ride.
• Provide Physiotherapy assessment, treatment and advice where required for the 40+ cyclists throughout the day.
• Lead the cyclists through a ‘squad’ stretching session at Feed stop 1 after a gentle 40km warm up on the bike.
• Provide injury assessment/treatment & sports massage recovery sessions post ride.
• ‘Co-drive’/make sure we knew where we were on the map so if Sarah called we could give our exact location (easier said than done)!
• Help to set up the Feed stops 1 & 3 (usually at approx. 40km and 120km) with the most amazing nutritional varied snacks and lunches.
The first night we were treated to the most incredible sunset in Mont St Michel, a real insight to some of the fantastic scenery and views we would see over the next 10 days…..
My role as a Physio was kept busy with achilles & knee issues due to the relentless miles day in day out. Ice packs and Ktape were certainly used in abundance. Neck and shoulder issues were few and far between thanks to the bike mechanics and post ride sports massage.
I was fortunate enough to sit in the van and soak in the views through the day, Sea line coasts and the beautiful mountains of the Pyrenees. The mountains were by far my favourite days but after witnessing those climbs there is no way you would get me on a bike! Some days the cyclists rode in blazing heat, while on other days they were lucky if they could see the bike in front due to rain/mist.
Stage 1: Mont St Michel – Utah Beach (188km)
Stage 2: St Lo – Cherbourg (182km)
Stage 4: Samur – Limoges (232km)
Stage 6: Arpajon – Montauban (187km)
Stage 7: L’Isle Jourdain to Payolle (162km)
Stage 9: Vielha to Arcalis (184km)
Day 10: Rest day for the cyclists and travel day for me…..I handed over the Physio batten to my great friend Claire Guthrie and then slept the whole way home: Andorra – Toulouse – Bristol – North Wraxall…..It’s taken me a week to feel ‘normal’!
I had a fantastic time, plenty of laughter, sun, scenery & animals (I’ve erased the wet days from my mind). Darren and Sam, AKA: “My Driver” were both fantastic and put up with my lack of humour at 5am. It was great to work as part of an event team and meet so many interesting people. I really hope I get the call-up next year so I can do it all over again!
The tour finishes this Sunday in Paris ( 17/07/16). Well done to EVERYONE.