Part two of our chat with executive chef and cycling enthusiast Hayden Groves. Hoping to raise £1 million for Cure Leukaemia, by cycling all three Grand Tours – Hayden is currently tackling the third and final tour, La Vuelta a Espana in Spain, just one day ahead of the professionals.
Can you share any highlights from both tours so far?
The Giro D’Italia went through some of the same towns and cities that I have visited as a tourist. It was a stunning albeit demanding route when you know just how hard it was to drive these very roads. The Dolomites were awe inspiring, but challenging especially as we got to them after two weeks of riding. On stage 16 we rode the iconic steep mountain pass Mortirollo and long Stelvio pass, which tops out at 2757m not just once, but twice! It was thick with snow but when I got to the top it was sunny. However, by the time we regrouped (as you all climb at your own tempo) we got caught in a snow storm.
In the Tour we rode the prologue with Olympic Triple Jump record holder Jonathan Edwards, which was really cool and having his support was really motivating.
The stage across the Jura Mountains was one of the toughest yet satisfying. It included a climb called Mont du Chat, which hasn’t appeared on the tours Parcour for 40 years. I quickly found out why it’s recognised as one of the hardest in France. It was relentless and averaged at 10.3% gradient for 9km, which means at times it was 12-16% for long stretches. I was allowed off the leash and tested myself against some of the local French riders, my competitive spirit hadn’t diminished.
Were there any low points?
Geoff crashed on stage 2, what looked like a pretty standard fall. He hadn’t broke anything but had suffered a nasty graze with a loss of skin. A week later he suffered with a severe infection and had to pull out, which was devastating for him and the team.
There were some long almost boring stages into wind and rain that were mentally tougher than anything. Being away from my two young girls for so long was also very difficult, especially when I heard that our youngest was upset at school and missing me.
Do you have any particular routines/methods to help you prepare physically and mentally each day?
I would listen to music on the transfer, and often ramble on Instagram stories, or Twitter to share what we were doing. I also wrote a daily blog and uploaded images, which often took the monotony out of the day!
My evening massage was 25 minutes of offloading the highs and lows of the day to the physio’s which helped me cope mentally. As did checking in with the family on FaceTime most evenings, if we had WI-FI.
What really lifted the team’s spirits was the floods of support from people on social media. We even had a message from England Manager Gareth Southgate. Lance Armstrong mentioned us on his Podcast saying we were ‘lunatics’ (guess he was being complimentary).
But it was the messages from the patients including young Harry our mascot who is going through chemo that really kept us focused on the cause when the going got tough. I knew that eventually the stage would come to an end and I could get off the bike, but for them the pain doesn’t stop.
As we know you are raising money for Cure Leukaemia, how do you hope your fundraising will help?
The haematology clinic at St Mary’s hospital has been given a £2.5million Government grant to double its footprint. They are £1 million short and that’s where we come in. We have certainly helped raise awareness but we have a way to go to reach that target.
Geoff has a personal connection with the clinic having survived chronic myeloid leukaemia in 2005. What that guy puts his body through to support Professor Charlie Cradock’s work, who he credits with saving his life, is nothing short of admirable.
As part of your fundraising, you are creating a charity cookbook. Tell us about the 3 Tours cookbook – how do you source the recipes?
The book was an idea I had last year, and is being kindly supported by BaxterStorey, especially by our Chairman Alastair Storey, and CEO Noel Mahoney. We are creating a limited print run of 3500 copies with 100% of that sale going to Cure Leukaemia charity. It’s a collection of simple recipes inspired by the 3 Grand Tour routes which can be easily created in your kitchen, so no expensive plates and obscure ingredients.
In return for a charity donation you get a beautiful book put together by Face publications filled with 70 recipes and some epic pictures of the three tours; and not forgetting contributions from Michel roux Jnr, Phil Liggett, Laura Kenny, Professor Cradock and Alastair Storey.
Borough Market, have been really generous letting me use their cookhouse for the book photos and will be supporting a book launch so look out for the details! In the interim anyone want to pre order with me, then I’m taking a list of names.
You are now two tours down, tell us about the final tour and how we follow you?
The next and final challenge is the’ Vuelta a Espana’, which we are starting one day before the pro peloton. The Vuelta will most likely be super-hot, very hilly and has lots of long transfers, so on paper at least, it may be just the toughest out of all three.
We start in Nimes France, on the 18th August and the finish is in Madrid on the 9th September.
You can keep up with us on Twitter using the handles @hayden1974 and@3tourschallenge. I also post on instagram @HaydenKgroves and I occasionally an Instagram story takeover for @Scienceinsport.
If anyone would like to donate to the Three Tours team, you can do so via their Just Giving page: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/HaydenGroves3TourChallenge
For further information about WSH contact:
Hannah Keddie 02380 382970 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Holly Broadway 02380 382970 – email@example.com
Notes to editors:
About BaxterStorey – BaxterStorey provides bespoke hospitality services through restaurants, café bars, deli operations and executive dining rooms for a wide range of customers. Its heritage is built on the culinary expertise and the professional training and development of its people. It employs more than 8,500 people at over 600 locations, and provides food service excellence to clients and customers in business and industry. BaxterStorey’s core principle is to serve the best quality food, sourced and prepared locally using the finest produce. Through its chef and barista academies, it provides focused and dedicated training to front line teams helping them to provide great service and build a career for life. The reach and talent of BaxterStorey’s business enables it to draw on an extensive pool of expertise within the food service sphere in the UK, providing it with a strong foundation to share and distribute best practice both locally and across the country