Most people will have seen one of those memes that show a straight line between a starting point and a life goal, labeled 'the plan', with a wiggly line that dips and weaves and occasionally u-turns towards the goal labeled 'reality. It's cheesy, but it's probably true - and ultra cyclist Jack Thompson is taking the wiggly line towards his goal: being the first rider to roll down the Champs-Élysées having ridden this year's Tour de France route.
Thompson began 'the Amazing Chase' on Monday, July 5, nine days after the pros - his goal is to complete the 3,500 kilometers of riding and 62,000 metres of climbing before the peloton - allowing him to fulfill his childhood dream.
Having suffered from depression, drug abuse, and addiction earlier in his life, Thompson's journey hasn't been conventional - but he still wants to "win the Tour de France," albeit not in the yellow jersey and without a champagne reception.
So, if Thompson is the first over the line in Paris, what equipment will help him get there?
When it comes to the bike, Thompson has opted for a Specialized Roubaix.
Previously a Tarmac rider, he switched to the Diverge gravel bike earlier in the year, before settling on the brand's endurance bike - which shares a more racey geometry with the Tarmac but benefits from the Future Shock suspension providing front end dampening.
Commenting on the move, he said: "With the many kilometers I ride, I’ve found that the Future Shock technology is a game changer for me. 200km days, back to back on rough mountain roads is cake. I’m fresh the next day and my body isn’t beat up.
"My Tarmac is fast, I love that bike, but the realization that I could combine the stiffness of my tarmac with the extreme forgiveness of my Diverge and have a road weapon that combined the best of both worlds dawned upon me."
The Roubaix is specced out with Roubaix Pro tyres, and deep rims embezzled with the mantra 'it's ok not to be ok', harking back to Thompson's prior demons, and motivation.
Wahoo's Speedplay pedals make for Thompson's pedalling platform, with an Infocrank fitted to record power data - incredibly, over the course of his 13 hour 40 minute day one journey, he put out a normalised power of 315 watts. On day two this dropped to 285 watts over 11 hours 11 minutes.
With Wahoo sponsoring the effort, Thompson is also fitted out with the brand's Wahoo Elemnt Bolt, Tickr heart rate monitor and Elemnt Rival multi sport watch which will help him keep track of his health over the 10 day 'bolt through France'.
There's a lot of calories going out, and therefore a lot that need to be replaced for Thompson to stay well-fueled throughout - in fact, his data shows he blazed through 13,832 calories on day one, and 10,064 calories on day two.
Unlike the pros, who can't use metabolic sensors following the UCI's ruling, Thompson is using the Supersapiens glucose tracker to help him determine when to load up on the copious amount of pasta his support crew appears to be preparing for him.
Thompson is weathering the same varying conditions faced by the Tour's riders, his second day characterised by "wind and wet roads", with a little sunshine towards the end. He's doing so kitted out in Velocio kit, with a camper van full of warm and dry changes to help him keep to the time schedule.
Of course, Thompson isn't the only one following the same route to a very different timescale.
According to the 'Alt Tour' website, Morton, who is riding with no team car and no mechanic, his team being "just Lachlan, his bike, and a map of France", had covered 2,227 miles (3,584 km).
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Cycling Weekly's Digital Editor Michelle Arthurs-Brennan is a traditional journalist by trade, having begun her career working for a local newspaper before spending a few years at Evans Cycles, then combining the two with a career in cycling journalism.
When not typing or testing, Michelle is a road racer who also enjoys track riding and the occasional time trial, though dabbles in off-road riding too (either on a mountain bike, or a 'gravel bike'). She is passionate about supporting grassroots women's racing and founded the women's road race team 1904rt.
Favourite bikes include a custom carbon Werking road bike as well as the Specialized Tarmac SL6.
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