Can someone riding a Raleigh Chopper make it round the 3,344 kilometres – that’s 2,078 miles – of the route of next year’s Tour de France, Alpe d’Huez and all? That’s what British cyclist Dave Sims, who this summer tackled L’Etape du Tour on the iconic bike, plans to do next July.
Sims, plus sports masseur Mo, bus driver, chef and psychologist Jonathan and mechanic Chris, form Team Chop.
With UCI ProTeam status secured (that’s Union Chopper International), they will set out from Utrecht on Thursday 2 July, two days before the Grand Départ of the race itself.
The quartet are raising money for the charity Help for Heroes, with Sims inspired after meeting an ex-servicewoman in Mallorca earlier this year who is in the British Paralympic team and had just ridden up one of the island’s biggest climbs on a handcycle.
Lancashire-based Sims runs cycling-focused coaching business My Performance Coach and is confident of completing the 21 stages.
On the Team Chop website, he says: “People told me the chopper can't climb mountains. It did. People told me it can't descend at speed. It did. I got told I can't do the Etape Du Tour on a chopper. I did. I get told I can't do the Tour De France on a chopper. I WILL.”
The bike is a slightly modified version of the one that many road.cc readers will have ridden back in the 1970s and 1980s, with a three 8-speed Sturmey Archer hub, rather than the 3-speed version that came with the original. Here’s the spec.
• Mark 3 Chopper
• Single chain ring (41 teeth)
• Aluminium alloy frame (15.9kg)
• 8 speed Sturmey-Archer hub
• Original chopper tyres (max 4 bar pressure)
• Lengthened steel seat post
• Pointless tennis balls (x2)
• Reflective spokey dokeys (x 38)
• Original rusty horn (x1).
Sims doesn’t adhere to the Velominati school of ‘Rules,’ but has five of his own:
Rule #1 - Respect your body over the bike. Are your arteries as clean and smooth as your frame is? No.
Rule #2 - It's YOU that needs to change, not the bike.
Rule #3 - The British use MPH. Always have. Always will. 10, 25, 50 and 100 TT's are here to stay!
Rule #4 - It's NOT about the bike.
Rule #5 - Always respect the ability of the rider over the bike. Team Chop doesn't do cycle snobbery.
A video posted to YouTube last week shows Sims taking the Chopper to a speed of 39mph.
“We are quite sure that speeds of this nature have never been recorded on such a mode of transport before,” says Team Chop.
“Proof if ever you wanted it, that it's not about the bike, but what you have to power it!”
Next summer in the Netherlands and France, he anticipates a rather more sedate average speed of 14-16mph.
You can follow Team Chop on Strava here.
Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.