Thursday, 18 August 2022

Alexandra’s Tour triumph

A HENLEY cyclist has raised more than £3,000 for charity by riding the route of this year’s Tour de France.

A HENLEY cyclist has raised more than £3,000 for charity by riding the route of this year’s Tour de France.

Alexandra Tyrer, of Ancastle Green, left Porto Vecchio in Corsica on June 22 and crossed the finish line in Paris 21 days later.

The 35-year-old’s challenge started a week before the Tour de France, which was won by British cyclist Chris Froome.

She followed the same 3,500km route as the professionals, which included steep uphill sections in both the Pyrenees and the Alps.

Miss Tyrer climbed a total of 47km during her ride and burned 9,000 calories a day - more than four times the normal rate for women.

She took part in the event, called the Tour de Force, with about 80 other cyclists from around the UK.

Her efforts have so far raised almost £3,400 for the William Wates Memorial Trust. She needs to raise another £600 to hit her target.The charity funds education projects for disadvantaged young people.

Miss Tyrer grew up near Manchester and moved to Henley in 2010 after several years of living in Denmark.

She became a keen cyclist while living overseas and continued pursuing her hobby when she returned to the UK. After taking part in the bicycle section of the Challenge Henley triathlon in 2011, she competed in the Henley Half Triathlon last year.

She decided to enter the Tour de Force after reading about fund-raising cyclist Liz Dimmock, of Wargrave, in the Henley Standard. Miss Dimmock, 34, took part in last year’s race and will begin cycling around the world for War Child UK in three months’ time.

Miss Tyrer said: “I read the article and was sold on the idea, so I took a look at the Tour de Force website and I was hooked immediately.

“I didn’t need any convincing. It was a chance to fulfil my dream of cycling the Tour de France and experience what a beautiful country it is.

“I wanted to do it first and foremost because of the challenge but as I started my fund-raising I realised what a great charity I was doing it for.”

Miss Tyrer began training last December with support and advice from her friend Rob Griffiths, who runs a coaching firm in Henley called Athlete Service.

She built up her rides until she was cycling almost 500km a week around Henley and surrounding villages.

Some of her training took place in the Peak District, where her parents live, to prepare her for the steeper slopes. She said: “It took a lot of dedication. You have to give up things like meeting friends for coffee so I’m grateful that all my friends supported what I was doing.”

After the first three days in Corsica, she and her fellow riders headed to Nice and followed an anti-clockwise route around southern France.

It included a climb to the summit of the 1,912m Mont Ventoux, the so-called “giant of Provence”, and several ascents in the ski resort of Alpe d’Huez. During the mountainous stretches, she would climb up to 5,000m a day.

Miss Tyrer said: “I picked up a slight injury in the first week when I tore some muscles in the back of my leg but I got it treated and carried on.

“We were fully supported by a team of doctors and physiotherapists all the way - it was very professionally set up. The organisers helped us to stay focused on each day at a time.

“Everything was broken down by day and we knew where our feed stops were so I never thought: ‘oh God, I’ve got to cycle 3,500km’.

“The mountain sections were particularly challenging but you have to just find a pace you can manage and go with it.

“Luckily there are a lot of sensory distractions because of the beautiful environment and the other cyclists were inspirational.”

As she entered Versailles on the final day Miss Tyrer was greeted by a group of friends including Zara Hearn, who lives in Albert Road in Henley.

She crossed the finish line at the Champs-Elysees on July 14 as the country celebrated Bastille Day. Miss Tyrer said: “The ride lived up to everything I had hoped for and more.

“I felt elated when I finished. It’s strange because everything is back to normal now - when I look back it all feels like a dream.

“I’m still going out on my bike around the Chilterns and loving it as much as ever.

“The Alps were breathtaking but there’s something nice about being back home - we have fantastic cycling territory around here. Nothing quite beats riding up through the Stonor and Hambleden valleys. The scenery is beautful and I love the way it changes with the seasons.”

Miss Tyrer wants to take part in another cycling challenge next year but has not yet settled on one.

She says she will continue supporting the William Wates Memorial Trust.

To sponsor her Tour de Force ride, visit www.

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