Tour de France Stage 1: Cycle Diary Day 1
Monday: Dartford to Chatham [38kms]
Day one: 38 kms | average speed: 5.47 mph | max speed 26.97 mph | calories: 1519
So far and so good. Everything seemed to work today - legs, bicycle, map and I even avoided being dragged under the wheels of a truck. Bingo.
My GPS track: Dartford to Medway
Baptism of fire
I set myself a manageable task for day one - 18 miles and a whole day in which to do it. The steepness of the hill as you leave Dartford in the direction of the M25 was a bit of a baptism of fire but enthusiasm pulled me through and I actually started to enjoy the gently-undulating ride through Greenhithe, Swanscombe - towards Gravesend.
I pottered along the north Kent coast at about 10km/h but the Tour racers will be doing about 45km/h when they come through the same area at about midday on Sunday. But, they won't be stopping every few minutes to take photos or chat to local people. If you don't believe, take a look at my photo gallery or listen to my day one audio diary.
The signs are everywhere. Every hundred yards or so another yellow board alerting drivers to the impending closure of roads and impossibility of parking - anywhere, at any time. Highways trucks are busy filling in holes in the road - a street sweeper lorry does it's meticulous sweeping and man with a yellow jacket picks litter off the pavement. All this within a 2-mile stretch. I can assure you I will never again in my life see such a concentration of municipal diligence.
Quick stop in Gravesend for a few interviews, then out through Higham towards Strood. Gravesend, unlike Dartford or Ashford, will see the Peloton plough straight through the pedestrian centre of town, and in my view this will be a good place to watch as well as soak up the excitement of the race. Take a look at our events guide to see exactly what has been planned for the big day.
I got drenched in Higham but kept on going [I couldn't find any suitable trees to stop under] and by the time I reached the Medway towns it was dry and the sun greeted me into Chatham. One down, four to go.
Dartford » Chatham: drive through
Watch our car's eye view of this section of stage 1 - speeded up.
Dartford » Chatham: 8th July race data
Points of interest en route:
Dartford QEII Bridge | Ebbsfleet International station | grave of Pocahontas | Gravesend town pier and clock tower | New Tavern Fort
last updated: 03/04/2008 at 12:55