Like all good teams the 2012 Tour of the Douro peloton is a mix of experienced riders and incoming new riders……. tonight we’ll focus on riders returning from our first ride outside the confines of the Champagne region, when in 2009 we broke south and headed to Burgundy. A major challenge that Chris Matthews of Berry Bros was certainly fully prepared for – Chris is perhaps the most experienced of all our riders, having ridden competitively as a young man he felt the irrestible call to return to the lycra when he reached a certain point in life and fortunately for him the Mentzendorff Charity Ride was there when he needed it…. actually Chris first joined the ride in 2006 but by 2009 he’d completely lost the plot (cycling-wise) and re-mortgaged his house to buy an uber-cool hand-made Italian frame, pictured here riding through a hail-storm somewhere north-west of Dijon
Hannah Schulz also first rode with us in 2006 as Hannah Wiggins back in her Louis Latour days, returning in 2008 on the famous “rain-ride” to Champagne during which she first met husband-to-be Peter Schulz, returning in 2009 and in top-form – pictured here leading the peloton up the final 15km climb in Burgundy. Hannah has since moved to Australia with Peter and so it’s great to see them both coming all the way back to Europe to ride with us again… welcome back Hannah & Peter!
And our other Chris – Chris Connolly of Connolly’s of Birmingham is another serious cyclist and stalwart of the ride, first riding in 2007 (the year of the heat!), this will be Chris C’s 5th ride – and he is well prepared, doing some frightening training mileage at ever increasing speeds!
Time to meet some more of the riders and support crew – starting with the man without whom none of this would be possible, Graham “It’s My Van” Hole…. pilot of the main Tour of the Douro support vehicle, pictured here in situ during the our last adventure in the Rhone Valley back in 2011.
I know it’s a bit dark but he’s in there!
Rest and recovery is an often under-rated aspect of our sport, but it is an area that Andrew Reed takes extremely seriously, pictured here getting in some last minute “recovery” en route to the start of our 2011 Tour……
This will be Andrew’s 3rd consecutive Mentzendorff Charity Cycle Ride, having ridden down to Champagne with us in 2010 he then re-joined in 2011, but was mysteriously “called-back to the U.K for a Board meeting” after the infamous 180km hailstorm ‘n hyperthermia stage into Burgundy.
And to end with an “action shot” ….. here is the peloton steaming along a French road… Montague-Dennis displaying his uncanny knack of hitting the front at the precise moment the camera appears.
Tomorrow I will have hopefully gained access to Mentzendorff’s secret archive of photos from the great Tours of 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009….. featuring more of the 2012 Tour of the Douro riders…… watch out Amps, Matthews, Connolly, Schulz (nee Wiggins)!
In only 14 days time we will be rolling out of the gates at Bodegas Roda, in Haro and commencing an arduous 1st Stage of 80km (almost every KM uphill) as we leave Rioja and climb up onto the central plateau of Spain, where we will first meet the R.Duero in it’s upper reaches on Day 2…….. more of this to come.
Now it’s time to meet the riders, who I will be introducing to you over the next few days.
Starting with………. Mentzendorff’s own Alan Montague-Dennis, veteran of 6 (out of 7) of our Charity rides in aid of The Benevolent. There have been many memorable Alan moments over the years, one of my favourites being on our very first ride (from Calais to Champagne in 2005) when Alan, new to cycling and clip-in pedals, fell off the side of the road and into a ditch when riding last in the group on the final foggy morning…….. none of us noticed and it was only when a motorcyclist flagged up down 10km later that we turned round to find Alan upside down but still attached to his bike in the ditch…. damp but otherwise un-damaged he rode onto Bollinger with Patrick Schmitt, Jon Hall and myself.
8 years on Alan is now a very accomplished rider and judging from his performance at last weekend’s training camp on the Ilse of Wight is a man to be feared on the climbs that await us.
Here is Alan pictured on the I.O.W last week with the other orginal survivor from 2005…. “Diesel” Jon Hall (also clocking 6 out of 7 Mentzendorff Charity rides)……Jon is fuelled by a perpetual supply of baguettes hidden about his person, he doesn’t like stopping and usually warms up after about 50km. Software engineer Jon has been riding through the night in preparation for The Tour of the Douro…. the sun could come as quite a shock to him….. 2 down….. 12 to go……. more tomorrow.
Senior drinks industry figures including; Ian Harris, WSET, Andrew Reed, WRBM, Adrian Bridge, Taylor’s Port, Chris Mathews, Berry Bros & Rudd, Chris Connolly, Connolly’s, and Philip Amps, Amps Fine Wines will shortly be joining Andrew Hawes – Managing Director, for the 8th and most challenging yet Mentzendorff Charity Ride; once again raising funds for The Benevolent.
This gruelling 600km test of endurance across mountainous northern Spain & Portugal begins in Haro, Rioja on Monday 10th and will end 5 days later at Regua, in the heart of Portugal’s Douro Valley. The pedal-powered-peloton has been in training for months in order to be able to complete this ride which aims to raise £25,000 for The Benevolent.
For the first time, thanks to social media, it will be possible to follow the progress of the tour using #tourofthedouro on Twitter, with daily updates, photographs and progress reports on the official tour blog; https://tourofthedouro.wordpress.com
Five days of cycling will take riders through the wine regions of Rioja, Ribera del Duero, Toro and the Douro Valley of Portgual, including an overnight stop at Taylor’s Quinta de Vargellas, before a triumphant finish at Regua. This may sound glamorous but rest assured that it will be the most arduous of all Mentzendorff Charity Rides to date and emergency Spanish is being brushed up on just in case!
To contribute to the sterling efforts of all riders involved in the Tour of The Douro and support The Benevolent, donations are being accepted through Just Giving: http://www.justgiving.com/Andrew-Hawes1 and we would all greatly appreciate your support in this charitable endeavour.