The Tour de France is often said to be the pinnacle of road cycling. It's one of the most famous physical tests in the world of cycling, if not in the world of sport altogether.
So, it’ll probably take a few people by surprise to learn that amateur cyclist Dave Sims plans to race the event course this year, and do so on – of all things – a Raleigh Chopper.
For those of you who may be a bit blurry when it comes to the Chopper, let us refresh your memory. It’s a children’s bicycle for starters, and the back wheel is a fair bit bigger than the front. We’re talking 16-20 inch wheels here, and the bike normally has between three and five gears.
Now, let us remind you a little about the Tour de France course that has been laid out for 2015. It’s 2,077-miles long, and amongst the 21 stages included are three hilly stages and seven mountain stages including five summit finishes.
The event will get started on Saturday July 3rd in Utrecht, Netherlands and finish in the Champs-Elysees 23 days later on July 26. 36-year-old Dave meanwhile will take on the course two days before the professionals.
Why is he doing it? To raise £5,000 for charity Help for Heroes, as well as to prove that you don’t have to be rich or splash out to take on some of the toughest cycling tests in the world.
He said: “Part of the motivation was to show you don’t need a £10,000 bike to do amazing things. My bike cost me £100, and I’m doing the Tour on it.
"With a bike, it’s mostly to do with the engine. In the last five years the cost of road cycling has skyrocketed but you don’t need all that, you just need to get out and ride.
“The other side of the challenge is to raise as much money for Help for Heroes as possible. Doing it on a Chopper adds a bit of comedy and fun to the event."
Now, as admirable as Dave’s efforts are, we’re still not sure we’d quite call what he has in store ‘fun’. Torture or a freakin’ nightmare maybe, but fun? Hmmm not so much.
Nevertheless, the cyclist does have a good track record. He rides for Middletons Cycling Club in Ormskirk, and last year he took on the L’Etape du Tour stage of the Tour, a single stage for amateur cyclists, and finished in the top 20 percent of the field.
The rider continued: “I do the L’Etape every year and this year I was suffering from a lack of motivation because I didn’t want to do it on my road bike or mountain bike again.
“So I started thinking, ‘What can I do to make the Etape more fun?’ I thought ‘I’ll do it on a kids’ bike’ to make it a bit more of a challenge.
“The Chopper has got a crank, it’s got a chainring, it’s got wheels, it’s a bike. If you train correctly and hold the right body weight, then you can ride anything. It could even be a unicycle if you want."
Big talk from Mr. Sims. We look forward to his Tour expedition on a unicycle next year. As for now though, good luck on the Chopper. It's all for a good cause after all!