Art & Photography

Le Tour De Alain

Morgan O’Donovan documented Alain Gordon-Seymour’s journey as he re-created the Tour De France race on his own, cycling 21 stages over 23 days

It was with mild curiosity that I listened to Alain’s ambition to cycle the 100th Tour De France (TDF) day for day – but as the month’s progressed, the number of bikes purchased increased, and with a rigorous training regime implemented, I really started to take notice. The one-man-race was to be called Le Tour De Alain.
To cycle 3,250 km over 23 days is no doubt difficult, but add to that a total climb of 4,5000 metres and you have one of the toughest road races on the planet. When quizzed as to the reasons behind the lonely race, Alain said “it’s the oldest, most prestigious, most beautiful of tours, it’s THE tour – it doesn’t matter where you are, people will know about the Tour De France.”

Having bought his first road bike a year ago, Alain set about to do some serious training. Cycling for at least 10 hours a day over the weekend, then working his day job all week long made it quite an intense schedule.

“It’s the oldest, most prestigious, most beautiful of tours,
it’s THE tour – it doesn’t matter where you are, people will know about the Tour De France”

There’s no blueprint for how to ride the TDF race solo, but Alain roped in his family and together they all thrashed out a system. His parents became his support team, his sister and her family also helped out. “Actually cycling the TDF was the easy part, getting to the start line and having the right support was a lot more difficult,” Alain says.

Leaving on the 27th July of this year, Alain and the family support unit headed to Corsica to start Alain’s lifetime dream of cycling the Tour. The first few stages were not ideal, but gradually as they developed a routine, it became easier. Rising every day at 5am, and leaving around 7am, Alain would cycle while his parents stocked up on supplies. They later on met up with him, generally at the top of a hill, with snacks and water – and gradually they started to traverse France. The closer to Paris they came, the bigger the team got. On the final day, setting off from the Palace of Versailles, there were eight friends, his sister and her family in the crew. The last leg was not without incident either: having travelled the entire distance without any problems, there were two punctures on this stretch and Alain was knocked off his bike by a taxi at L’Arc de Triomphe. Then there was the real killer of having to ride 10 circuits of the Champs-Élysées.

On finishing the race Alain mused, “I was never going to make this a box-ticking project, I was going to enjoy it, and I did. The overall experience leaves you with more energy than before setting off because it’s a once in a lifetime event. It’s really overwhelming to be able to say ‘I’ve cycled the Tour De France’ by myself!”

Text and photography Morgan O’Donovan

Alain raced in support of PACT, more info HERE. You can also donate money HERE