And Then There Were Trois

Issue 25

Team Leathers (Michael Leather, Neil Matthews and Barry James) are currently in France, undertaking the formidable Tour de Force cycling challenge in aid of the William Wates Memorial Trust. Taking place one week ahead of the 2017 Tour de France and covering exactly the same route, it is not for the faint-hearted! Here, Team Leathers analyse the numbers behind the madness.

For cycling fans and non-cycling fans alike, the mention of the Tour de France stirs up images of one of the world’s premier sporting events and one of the most physically demanding; for the man on the street, and even the experienced amateur cyclist, the sheer scale of the race can be hard to comprehend.

Being accountants, we pride ourselves in our ability to analyse numbers and explain complex issues to our clients in a way they can relate to and understand…to put the challenge into context, we’ve had a look at the numbers behind the Tour de France:

21 Days

The riders will cycle for 21 days. For many of us, doing any form of exercise every day for 3 weeks would be a struggle. Cycling for 3 weeks takes an enormous amount of fitness and willpower!

2,100 Miles

The overall distance of the Tour exceeds 2,100 miles. That’s over 100 miles per day. That is the equivalent of cycling from Newcastle to Edinburgh. Every day. For 3 weeks. And Newcastle to Edinburgh is relatively flat.

8 Hours per Day

The professionals can average speeds of over 24mph, depending on the stage profile, racing for an average of 5 hours per day.

Amateur cyclists will average nearer 14-18 mph. This means that they can be in the saddle for between 6 and 10 hours per day. As a comparison, imagine cycling non-stop for a whole day at work!

70,000 Feet of Climbing

One the great features of the Tour de France are the mountains. The Pyrenees, the Juras, the Vosges, the Massif Central, the Alps. The mountains are where the race is won and lost.

In the classified climbs (mountains which have been given a difficulty rating), the riders will ascend over 70,000 vertical feet. That is the equivalent of cycling over the top of Mount Everest. Twice. In fact, it may even be nearer three times over Everest when you factor in the non-classified ascents. And then you have to contend with some of the eye-watering gradients (up to 18%).

60mph Descents

What goes up, must come down. Whilst it can take up to 4 hours to get over one of the Alpine mountains, it certainly doesn’t take that long to come down! Depending on how brave you are, speeds can be in excess of 60mph, fast enough to overtake continental caravans and motor homes.

5,000 Calories per Day

All of this physical exertion comes at a price…in order to keep the body fuelled day after day, the riders need to consume up to 5,000 calories per day. This might sound like fun, but in order to perform properly, it needs to be (mostly) the right kind of calories (pasta, chicken etc). Consuming this much food when exhausted can actually be quite difficult!

The numbers above illustrate the point that the Tour de Force cycling challenge is not something which you can just turn up and do. It takes months of preparation/training and the riders rely on the tremendous support of friends, family, colleagues and the organisers to get them through.

But it can be fun! It is an incredible event for a fantastic cause and it is worth the pain and suffering to know that we’ve helped the charity in our own way. We’ve already raised a huge amount of money for the William Wates Memorial Trust and we’d like to thank everyone for their support to date.

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