Cycling for change: Chef Hayden Groves talks to BaxterStorey about his 3 Tours charity challenge

Executive chef and cycling enthusiast Hayden Groves, has just returned from three gruelling weeks pedalling the Tour De France. Hayden is hoping to raise £1 million for Cure Leukaemia, by cycling all three Grand Tours –  The Giro D’Italia, Le Tour de France and La Vuelta a Espana in Spain, just one day ahead of the professionals – a challenge never achieved by an amateur cyclist team. Until now…

Welcome back Hayden! Remind us, how far did you cycle in total for this tour?
For this Tour we rode 3540km and climbed just over 44,000m. Starting in Dusseldorf we rode through three countries, Germany, Belgium and Luxemburg in one day alone.  This was the first tour that I can remember that encompassed all five mountain areas- Vosges, Jura, Pyrenes, Alps and the Massif Central.

Who makes up the 3 Tours team?
Beside myself  (a life-long wannabe cycling pro, and someone who struggles to say no to any opportunity), there is former England footballer, Geoff Thomas- a self-confessed non cyclist and inspiration to us all.

There’s Scottish philanthropist, Doug McKinnon, one of the most generous guys I’ve ever met, who will get to the finish every day, no matter what.  Our investor James Maltin hardly trained, and turned vegan to prepare for our previous 2015 tour.

Then there’s Marcus Leach, writer and motivational speaker. Being super strong with a huge engine, he turned himself from an overweight guy to a cover star on Men’s health magazine a few years back.

We wouldn’t be complete without our supportive guest riders, Michelin starred chef Simon Gueller, who rode in 2015 with us, and Andy Parker who works in the investment world, they rode the whole route.

Neil Ashton from Sky Sports joined us for 10 days, as did Olly, wine buyer for Farr Vintners, our headline sponsor.  Then there’s the support team, including Paul the organiser,  physio’s Sarah, Damo, & PJ, our drivers, doctor and Jim and Bob the mechanics who would often take turn in joining us on the their own bikes.

How much training do you have to do ahead of a tour? 
It’s very difficult to train properly for a Grand Tour whilst juggling work and home life.  I started full training at Christmas, going out in below freezing temperatures – which was no fun! I then tore cartilage in my knee during a dad’s Sunday football match, and had to stop cycling for most of February. Luckily I escaped surgery due to a sympathetic surgeon who knew it would be game over for the 3 Tours challenge. The compromise was no more running or football!

I spent March until May cycling home from work in London, varying cycling distances from 35, 50 or 80km, although the traffic and red lights never let me ride as hard as I wanted. I also followed this up with physio sessions to help the knee and did some specific home work out sessions.

When you are on tour, what does a typical day on tour look like?
We are up at 6am for breakfast before a transfer from the hotel to the stage start. We were generally on our bikes by 8.30am.

The average length of a stage is 160 km (100 miles) but this takes into account the two short time trials, there are stages that have been 235 km (146 miles). We eat on the bike, however there will be a couple of comfort pit stops on the way and normally 60% through the stage, we have a 1/2 hour break to take on some real food.

Depending on the length and difficulty of the stage we can be finished by 4pm. Although one particular occasion in Sardinia it was 9.30pm, and pitch black before we finished.

On the big stage in the Jura Mountains we had to travel all the way across to Perigreux from Chambery.  This was 335 miles and we didn’t get to the hotel until 2.30am and in desperate need of a shower. Thankfully it was a rest day the next day.

When we arrive back at the hotel,  we shower, have a massage and eat – not always in that order. Then it’s time for bed, I’m lucky if it’s before 11.00pm. The lack of proper rest and sleep is one of the hardest things on tour. Being in a different bed each night delivers its own challenges – several times I’ve walked into a wall in the middle of the night thinking I was going to the bathroom!

What kinds of food do you eat to keep yourself going?
Getting enough food is crucial as we burn somewhere between 6500 – 8000 calories a day. For the last tour, breakfast normally consisted of three soft boiled eggs, yoghurt, fruit and bread. I would drink a bidon of carbs, then have a 20g whey protein gel on the transfer to the stage start.

I would always make myself a cheese and ham baguette at the breakfast buffet, which, depending on our location, included delicious Comte cheese, or just basic cream cheese. I’d eat this as a second breakfast about 90 minutes into the ride. Then it would be a combination of energy bars, gels and drinks, one full of hydration salts and the other with a carb mix. One particular day I went through 14 bottles on the bike alone, which was a personal record. For my size I was always looking to consume about 60gm of carbs per hour.

As ambassador for a top sports nutrition company, I had access to sports nutritionist Ted Munson, who has given me fantastic advice all throughout my training and the tour. His expertise has been beneficial for the whole team. I believe that fuelling the engine appropriately had kept me strong so far.

For dinner we tried to keep it ‘normal’ with lean protein such as chicken and lots of carbs. We experienced some great food in Italy and a real mixed bag in France. Just before bed I always made an overnight protein shake to help repair the day’s damage. It states you “go to bed in pieces, wake up whole again”. So I didn’t dare go to sleep without it!

Then we just repeated 21 times….

In part two, we chat to Hayden about his tour highlights, the Three Tours Cook Book, and the team being called lunatics by Lance Armstrong!

If anyone would like to donate to the 3 Tours team, you can do so via their Just Giving page:


For further information about WSH contact:

Hannah Keddie 02380 382970 –
Holly Broadway 02380 382970 –

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

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