Day 11 Dallaglio Cycle Slam – Signs of a struggle

By Andrew Croker

Nevers – Chablis. 140km. Done: 1225 km. To go: 1663km. Weather: Cold. No wind.

Yes, fancy dress day again! A heavy rolling upward grind for the first 40km, with light snow on higher ground. A couple of degrees colder and it would have been icy.

Then just beautiful flat winding roads. Where is everybody? Deserted villages, no traffic.

But I was really struggling. As Paul says, a “jours sans”. A day without. Lawrence and Jonny Nye's groups are going well and we leapfrogged each other on the road, with me the dead weight on the back.

At about 90km the two groups were together, some 300m ahead, with Lawrence leading, about fourteen of them in two tight lines. One of our Range Rovers went past, and maybe they got distracted, but five of them came down hard. I thought Jonny was badly cut, but it was only red make up!

Stopped there for lunch, but I was feeling weak, so I set off first for the last 50k. I was poodling along but my heart rate jumped to 185 (my max is 174). Decided to stop, and called the doc. This has happened maybe six times in fifteen years.

Last night I probably drank too much – including two shots as 'fines' – one for being married to Joanna, which seemed harsh. The dinner we had was hopeless for cycling – no carbs, no salad and no vegetables.
Doc Simon took my blood pressure and my heart was still in the 170s – but I felt fine. I have been averaging about 110 on long days. So we head to Auxerre hospital, but 15 minutes into the drive it just plummets to 75 and stays there. Some sort of electrical short circuit we think…

Jonny's crew did 18km extra – hard to do with fancy dress and red balloons. Paul and Michael Lavelle brought Joanna home hard in their group in bright sunshine, along picturesque canals and through the vineyards. Chablis is pretty, but borderline twee.

David Millar just called. He is fulfilling the key morale-boosting role of ensuring no matter how badly it's going for me, he's having a worse time. He crashed heavily in the TT today and had stitches in his hip. He told me Stuart O'Grady gets the same heart thing as me.

So no wine tasting at six, or wine or beer at all for me. My only chance now is no booze, no caffeine, take it dead easy. Free Bosman transfer to the slow group.

Paris tomorrow, 104km. I can cruise that. Then 86-92-105 across the flatlands of northern France. My new plan? Need to survive!

Very disappointing.


Lawrence Dallaglio’s Cycle Slam is a quest to pedal over 2,800 kilometres to all Six Nations stadia in support of the Dallaglio Foundation and Sport Relief. A 250-strong squad of challengers is cycling to Rome, Paris, Twickenham, Cardiff, Dublin and Edinburgh to raise over £1million for these worthy causes. Garmin has donated Edge cycle computers to the many celebrities taking to two wheels along the way.