Michael Navybox continues his journey through France, moving from the Massif Central into the Pyrennes and raising public awareness of the importance of early detection, intervention and prevention of cancer, depression and PTSD,
Michael is completing each stage of the Tour de France on day ahead of the professionals and has now moved into the second week of the tour.
Michael has been keeping a diary of the Tour and here are his latest instalments.
Stage 10 - Saint Flour to Albi
Today was tough mentally as it was physically demanding. The first 60km of this 217km long ride was the toughest yet for me as my legs felt extremely heavy and burning like fire as we rode immediately into the strong gusting headwind and big hills. Now as funny, stupid funny, as this sounds,... but once I talked my legs in to accepting the pain for the next 8 plus hours my body then clicked into action and away we went. Marcos worked tirelessly for me all day, drafting on the flats and pacing me up the hills, we work very well together and he brought me to the finish line in great condition. The pros will be full gas and absolutely fly on this stage.
Today Marcos and I averaged approx 27kph for the 217km distance and 3,144m of climbing - Marcos computer reads 27.4 and mine 26.5... splitting hairs I know! Pretty surprised given the conditions, terrain, duration and I was resting up the hills and we mostly battled head and cross winds all day.
Tomorrow is a rest day and then we continue our journey into the Pyrenees.
Tonight I bid farewell to Marcos and Jack who have worked tirelessly both on and off the bike, just amazing what these guys do and I can't thank them enough for the support they provide me. The workload behind the scenes and tight schedules to make all this happen is crazy, madness really. Pete and Joel who supported me in the Giro will take over from Marcos and Jack for the coming week through the Pyrenees.
Many thanks for all your support and comments. Apologies for not replying however please know I read them all and they really lift my spirits and fuel my energy levels.
Stage 11 - Albi to Toulouse
Stage 11 from Albi to Toulouse is fast, very fast. For the pros it will be a big day for the refreshed sprinters coming off the rest day. Just 2,000 meters of climbing over gentle rolling hills and only 167km to travel, the pros will fly.
For me it was another recovery type day riding with our new lead rider Pete from the Dolomite's and guest rider Jan from Switzerland. It was a day getting to know each other's riding style and easing into the swing of riding long distances together.
It was great catching up with the Team Internationelles and pedalling a few kilometres with them. What a fantastic group doing an awesome job.
Television coverage for Stage 11 will be filled with bright beautiful colours of rolling hills covered in sunflowers, just magical. One excited farmer has cut his crop in such a way as to leave a "green jersey" come "yellow jersey" depending upon the angle the flowers are facing, very clever.
The 209km Stage 12 tomorrow, will take us into the Pyrenees and two Category 1 climbs. It will be a long day with lots of elevation gain but I'm so looking forward to riding through my all-time favourite village of Luchon.
Stage 12 - Toulouse to Bagneres-de-Bigorre
What an epic day. 209km with two Category 1 climbs to finish, not for the faint hearted. We rode 125km from Toulouse then climbed two mountains followed by a 30km downhill ride into strong headwinds to the finish.
The pro race will be exciting as the real yellow jersey contenders will definitely show their hand today.
Highlights included Andrew back on the bike after crashing a week ago and meeting up with my Belgium buddies from the Giro.
The biggest highlight though is that I'm now half way through the TDF and riding the three Grand Tours.... together we'll get this done.
Stage 13 - Pau Individual Time Trial
While only 27km long, the Stage 13 TDF Time Trial is technically challenging with many short sharp hills and tricky fast decents combined with a couple of flat standard arterial roads and 90 degree city street corners.... a little something for everyone... the riders with tired legs will suffer though as some gradients are up around 20%.
Tomorrow we are back in the mountains as we finish atop of the very famous Tourmalet.
Stage 14 - Tarbes to Tourmalet
Mega day riding the mountains completed. To finish atop of the iconic Toumalet was very special. The roads are lined with campervans and hundreds if not thousands of people. Meeting my Belgium buddies/angels was another highlight. The second week of a Grand Tour is the toughest to push through. Mentally I'm exhausted and physically, yes, I've a few issues but my legs feel strong which is most important and the other is just peripheral pain... that's manageable.
Stage 15 tomorrow is big, approx 4,200 of climbing and 185km.
Stage 15 - Limoux to Foix Prat d'Albis
Today was always going to be a big day of climbing and it didn't disappoint. Strategically I needed to survive in good shape by not pushing too hard as fatigue is currently my greatest enemy. All climbs and descents were very different and unique and actually quite enjoyable. With the exception of the Mur or 'the wall' on the second last climb that was above 18% for 3km, the gradients on the other climbs weren't all that steep however the duration on each climb was very long, generally 10-12kms plus the elevation gains to get to the base of each climb of up to 20kms at 4-5%. It's a mental game on these long climbs staying focused for the duration and keeping a consistent pedalling rhythm whilst staying relaxed. The descents are long and seriously fast, scary fast. Don't be surprised to see the pro riders hit speeds of 80-90kph if not faster. It should be a very exciting stage to watch on TV, attacks will be going thick and fast all day with the General Classification contenders having opportunities right up to the very last 12km Category 1 climb to the finish... it will be spectacular!
Tonight I said goodbye to my lead rider Pete who did a wonderful job pushing hard on the front. Uri now joins me for this all important last phase as we push to Paris.
Tomorrow is my second and final rest day which is perfect timing for me to refresh, regroup and prepare to tackle the best the French Alps can throw at us before the final push to Paris.
Current Tour de France statistics
15 Stages completed
38,499 meters climbed
23.7km/hr average speed
While you're with us...
Did you know the Goulburn Post is now offering breaking news alerts and a weekly email newsletter? Keep up-to-date with all the local news: sign up here.