You’ve already met the four Mill riders cycling to raise funds for Leukaemia Lymphoma Research and you've read the 1st half of their 'Updates from the Road'. Now we follow our Mill riders as they continue onto the 2nd half of the 2014 Fireflies Tour and as they make their way to a grand arrival at the Cannes Lions Festival. Check back here for brand new updates from the road and on our Instagram.
Mill Firefly: Chris Scott
Flame Artist, The Mill in London
Stage 4: La Grave to Tallard
Col du Loutaret
Breakfast legs warm up. Beautiful start with a gentle climb. Barney got the drone out. Local kids in amazement, no crash this time. Hairy descent very fast! You try to take in the views during descents but it's just not possible! Gripping hard watching for any gravel or holes to warn the team about behind.
Beautiful climb. Classic car rally tens of Porsches. 20k all up. I set off a little to the rear of the pack, starting gently, climbing, admiring the scenery. Then came the last 6k where I decided to put the gas on, with someone special to my family in mind. F#%k it, lets do this! Tunes up, sweat on, passing team members and receiving encouragement. So hot, Boom done! Couldn't quite catch James though, but wow that was tough. Now elated, taking in the wide vista and cheering down the valley at fellow climbing flies. Group photo then time for lunch! Oh and obviously a ridiculously fast descent.
Newsflash from the fast group: Ed's had a spill. Ate curb lost skin from palm and elbow, shed blood, but is up and smiling.
After that descent, where the group topped out at 94.6 k! Peloton took a little time to get sorted due to high head winds coming through the gorges. I've never seen so much teamwork! Everyone doing their bit. We slogged through hard and fast. Last Gel of the day. Absolute Heroes every each one of my group!
Arrived Hotel, made it! Beer please, Grande!
Mill Firefly: Ed Shires
3D Lead, The Mill in NY
Follow his ride on Instagram: @EdShires
Stage 5: Tallard to Carpentras
Today was one of the longest days on this year's tour and acted as a transition day to get us out of The Alps and into the rolling hills of Provence.
What looked like a flat stage on the course profile, discounting the Col de Perty (1302m) at almost exactly the half way point, was still particularly challenging due to the undulating punchy climbs and high speed of both groups, one and two. Group two spent much of the day working brilliantly as a team in a well oiled pace line, all pulling their weight for the good of the others when their turns came.
The Col de Perty just before lunch was a real shock to the system after the big day of climbing yesterday. I think it is safe to say that our legs were really feeling the effects of all the climbing so far, so even this small Col really took more dedication than we expected. Team photos at the top and plenty of Firefly road painting, we were once again off down the decent for a portion of Spagetti Bolognese which by now is very much the standard go to meal for many of the Flies.
From lunch we still had around 60km of the day to finish and the rain was looking imminent; It was not long until it began to fall as the flatter profile allowed us to really raise the pace. What followed was a blur of torrential rain, hissing wheels, clacking of gears, tyre spray, spacial awareness tests at 40kmh, eating, drinking and survival with the group until we made it to Carpentras not a moment to soon. After a brief bike wash, now both mentally and physically drained we set about preparing for tomorrow…. it’s going to be a big one.
Mill Firefly: Chris Batten
Exec VFX Producer, The Mill in LondonLeukaemia & Lymphoma Research Donation Page
Follow his ride on Instagram: @chrischopperbatten
Stage 6: Mont Ventoux
The one we’ve all been waiting for, the giant of Provence, 'Mont Ventoux'. At 1912m to the summit, it promises to be a challenge to any cyclist. Lance Armstong himself quoted it as the toughest climb on the Tour de France. As the sun broke the horizon and blue skies, we rode into the looming shadow of Ventoux. The classic route to the top begins in the town of Bedoin so with stopwatches set to zero, we started the gruelling 21km climb. Lucky the weather conditions were perfect, not too hot and more importantly not too windy. Being so open to the elements the summit of Mont Ventoux boasts the strongest wind speeds recored in Europe. The Mill team, Chris Scott, Ed Shires, Tara Demarco and myself, all put down some very respectable times to the summit and were rewarded with some breathtaking views.
After a long twisting descent into the town of Sault for a well deserved lunch, we began the remaining 60k to Manosque. A journey made all that more interesting by a huge thunder storm raging above us. Lighting flashing all around us with cracks of thunder echoing through the mountains. The conditions were about as bad as it gets as the peloton pushed on through the wind and torrential rain. Thankfully we all made it home safe and sound and were soon around the bar all regaling stories of an amazing day.
Mill Firefly: Tara DemarcoSr. Flame Artist, The Mill in LA
Follow her ride on Instagram: @tararaboomdeeeay
Stage 7: Manosque to Castellane
We spent the morning leaving the rolling hills of Manosque (read: climbing immediately.)
Our first stop of the day was in a lavender field and our second stop of the day was for coffee. The sun was shining, but the temperature was somewhat cold. We used the climbs to warm our legs and wait for the coffee to kick in. As we ascended to the first big climb of the day I found myself between two Chris',s. Chris “Chopper” Batten towed myself and Chris Scott to the base of Col d’Ayens. It was a bit steep at the start and we climbed through the trees and made our way to the top of the ridge road at the Grand Canyon du Verdon. Wow. Amazing.
We three stopped for photos in complete awe of the place. The spectacular ridge road went up and up into a small town for our lunch stop at about 70k in the day. This was the point where our luck began to change. The weather grew colder and clouds began to roll in. Our plan for after lunch was the climb of Collet Bartis with quite a steep gradient and another view of the gorge. The rain began to fall seriously as we crested Collet Bartis. The first half of the descent was spent avoiding cliff edges and being grateful to have the fitness and the will to climb mountains on a bicycle in the name of loved ones and charity. The second half of the descent was holding on to a wheel for dear life in dumping, pissing rain with cars overtaking and a rapids-filled gorge below with only a small rock wall between you and certain death (no joke).
We all made it back to the hotel drenched through many layers of clothes and wool, but are safe and warm now.
La Ligne D'Arrivée
The 2014 Fireflies Tour (No. 14) completed their epic 1,000+ km journey across the Alps into Cannes with their flight under the red and gold finish line led by the only two lady Fireflies on the tour. Friends and family gathered to cheer on the group at the Palais des Festivals in the middle of Cannes Lions Festival with drinks in hand. The group toasted the heroes in the completion of their grueling ride to to raise money and awareness for Leukaemia & Lymphoma research. You can still contribute to the cause via the riders' donation pages: Chris Batten, Chis Scott, Ed Shires and Tara Demarco.
4 Dedicated Mill Fireflies
The Fireflies couldn't happen without a strong backbone. Like a Firefly Mother, Laine Lindsay-Law is that centre piece; gluing the lycra clad rabble together. Making sure we all have our bib shorts on the correct way around, and we have enough Haribo and Mars to get up those Cols! This year she also had the assistance of the glamorous Fran bedind the lens and Doctor Tom administrating his special mix of crutch cream.
All the riders here at The Mill would like to say:
THANK YOU GUYS!!!