In June 2021, one week ahead of the professional race, The Tour 21 team will ride the full Tour de France route to raise over £1m for Cure Leukaemia, the Official Charity Partner of Tour de France in the UK.
WE CAUGHT UP WITH IAN TAYLOR...
Who is Ian Taylor?
I’m 49 years old, married with two kids – I live in Birmingham and I work for the NEC Group.
How long have you been cycling?
One of my earliest memories is learning to ride a bike at 4 years old, so I’ve been riding for as long as I can remember. I started racing BMX when I was a kid, rode a mountain bikes in my twenties but for the last 15 years I’ve been entirely focused on road cycling.
Why did you choose to take on The Tour 21?
To raise money for Cure Leukaemia and help make a genuine difference to the lives of people fighting this disease. We’re aiming to raise £1m for Cure leukaemia’s Trials Acceleration Programme (TAP), a network of specialist research nurses at 12 blood cancer centres located in the UK’s biggest cities. This network enables accelerated setup and delivery of potentially life-saving blood cancer clinical trials giving patients across the UK access to treatments not currently available through standard care.
What is your current training schedule?
I’m averaging about 15 hours a week currently, which tends to be an endurance ride of 5-6 hours on a Sunday, with shorter sessions of up to a couple of hours throughout the week at varying intensity. I try to make sure I’m riding outdoors at least 3 times a week but indoor sessions are a good fallback and have really helped my fitness during the long winter months.
What nutritional guidance can you give to those planning a long ride?
I’m not sure I’m the right person to ask, as I’m still learning myself – I tend to make sure I have a good breakfast to top up me energy levels then I eat small amounts during the ride, everything from energy gels, to malt loaf or bagels. I’ve also started using carb based drinks during the ride to help keep the energy levels up.
Do you have any tips on making sure you’re energised while you’re riding?
Don’t just eat or fuel when you feel hungry – I find it’s easy to lose track of time and go an hour without eating, so it’s helpful to have a plan in advance in your head and try and eat something every 30 minutes. My pockets are bulging at the start of the ride and empty by the end!
What bike and kit are you going to be using?
I’ll be riding a Specialized Tarmac S-Works that I’ve had since 2018 so I’ve logged thousands of miles on it and I know I can ride it all day long. We’re fortunate to have Kalas as a kit partner for the Tour 21 so they’ve provided us with a fantastic training kit that I’ve been wearing all year and they’re also treating us to a bespoke kit for the actual ride as well. It’s excellent kit that looks and feels top quality and even helps motivate you to train.
Which part of The Tour are you least looking forward to and why?
On previous endurance rides, there’s always been at least one day when you really don’t want to get on your bike and pedal all day long. Those days are great to look back on once you’ve done them, but it’s really not much fun when you’re doing it. As a team of 21, we’ll be helping each other get through those days and knowing that we’re doing it to raise money that makes a difference to people’s lives will be the best motivation.
What time do you think you will complete each stage in comparison to the pros? / What are your target times?
For us, it’s not really about target times, it’s an endurance challenge, with every member of the team finishing each day and starting the next one together. Maybe we should go full gas on the time trial stages and see how we compare to the pros – but even on those days we might need our lights…
Finally, what are your three-top tips for anyone wanting to complete the tour?
– Embrace structured training, it’ll help with motivation, keeps things fresh and ensures you don’t overdo things.
– I think there are 3 parts to every event – the preparation, the event itself and then looking back on it. With the Tour 21, the preparation is the biggest time commitment so it helps if you can enjoy the process of training.
– Whilst it’s definitely an endurance challenge, the objective is to raise money for a brilliant cause, so whilst I’d say you need a training plan, you also need a fund raising plan!