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The Tour de Flat: Riding the Tour de France indoors so no one is forced onto the streets

Joseph Delves
24 Mar 2020

Jacob Hill-Gowing is raising funds for Big Issue sellers put out of work by the coronavirus lock-down

Self-isolation is not a great prospect for most people. But for Big Issue sellers it means no customers and no way to make a living. Coming at a time where they’ll also need to get off the streets, the impact on the lives of the magazine’s 1,400 vendors could be devastating.

Jacob Hill-Gowing decided he’d combine keeping himself fit during the next three months with raising funds for the Big Issue’s out-of-work magazine sellers.

'I thought to myself what can I do to help without leaving the flat? The answer lay in the exercise bike I’ve been using as a clothes horse for the past two years: "I know what I’ll do, I'll ride the distance of Le Tour de France in my flat”.'

As planned - before a likely postponement, the length of this year’s Tour de France stood at 3,470 kilometres (2,156 miles). That’s a lot of turbo time. However, with significantly longer than the three weeks that the riders would have had to tackle the distance, Hill-Gowing is aiming to chip away at the total.

Dubbing his attempt Le Tour de Flat, in planning to emerge from enforced isolation with the entire virtual route behind him, currently, he’s got at least 12 weeks in which to get pedalling.

To keep an eye on his progress, and make sure he’s not grabbing too many sticky bottles, you can check in with his progress via his Twitch TV stream.

Offering its vendors a lot more than just a magazine to sell, the Big Issue Foundation isn’t funded through magazine sales, instead receiving 99% of its income through voluntary donations.

Aiming to raise £5,000, at the time of writing Hill-Gowing is over 10% of the way there, having received £550. You can help him along the way here: