A couple from Cranleigh are taking on a New Year fitness challenge with a difference as they prepare to take on multiple stages of the 2016 Tour de France.
Robin Gue, 49, and Jenny Gue, 42, will tackle the iconic Mont Ventoux and other Tour de France landmarks as part of the Tour de Force.
The Tour de Force is a charity-based challenge, which gives cyclists of all abilities and experiences the chance to ride the Tour de France route one week ahead of the professionals.
Participants can take on from 2-21 stages of the Tour by choosing from a range of different Tour Taster Packages, or becoming a ‘Lifer’ and completing the whole route. The 2016 Tour departs Mont St Michel on Saturday June 25 and arrives in Paris 21 stages later on Sunday July 17.
Participating riders raise money for the William Wates Memorial Trust (WWMT) which gives grants to charities that engage disadvantaged young people through sport, arts and education.
Having completed stages on the 2015 Tour de Force, Robin and Jenny, both members of Cranleigh Cycling Club, are looking forward to being part of the Tour de Force team once again.
Robin, who runs his own IT firm, said: “When it comes to a sporting challenge, they don’t come much bigger than the Tour de France and when a fellow club member recommended the Tour de Force I knew it was too good an opportunity to turn down.
“Along with the fantastic organisation and fundraising target, the friendly and inclusive atmosphere and camaraderie are the main reasons we’ve decided to take part again. Some of these tours can be a bit competitive, but the Tour de Force is such an enjoyable experience, with everyone supporting each other, and it gives you great motivation to go back and try some different stages.
“When you’ve had a hard day’s cycling it’s quite surreal to be cheered on by locals, who base themselves and their motor homes in the mountains to watch the full tour, before being welcomed by fellow Tour de Force riders when you get to the end – particularly when they’re sitting in a picturesque French café with a cold drink!
“Obviously, participation in the Tour de Force requires an element of training, but it’s certainly not an event just for elite riders. People of all abilities and experience take part so it’s a fantastic challenge for any cyclist.”
Jenny, a teaching assistant, added: “The enjoyment factor and team environment are two of the best, and most important, elements of the Tour de Force and make it stand out from any alternative cycling event. It allows you to see parts of France you only tend to see on the TV whilst taking on a physical and mental challenge with a fantastic group of people.
“It’s a great opportunity to push yourself in an exciting, yet supportive, environment whilst ultimately raising money for a worthy cause. The charity aspect is a very strong factor when you’re out there and gives you that extra bit of motivation when finishing a stage or a day’s riding.
“As the days get darker over the winter months, it’s really good to have something longer-term to drive you on, both on and off the bike, and I’m really looking forward to getting back out there in the summer.”
Places on the 2016 Tour de Force are still available and further information on the Tour and available Tour Taster packages can be found at www.tourdeforce.org.uk
Report and picture contributed by The BIG Partnership on behalf of Tour de Force.