Louie Spence: 'The Jump was dangerous, but Tour De Celeb is dangerous AND demanding!'
Louie Spence says his legs completely seized up when he took part in Channel 5’s new cycling reality show Tour De Celeb...
What's On TV caught up with flamboyant dancer Louie Spence who told us much more about his daring cycling exploits as he trained for the 146km cycle race L’Etape du Tour in the new Channel 5 show Tour De Celeb (Monday, November 28)...
You did The Jump, now you’re taking part in Tour De Celeb - are you mad? "Honestly, I’ve never done anything so difficult in my life! Talk about being thrown in at the deep end! I mean as a kid, I had a Chopper with tassels hanging off it and that was the last bike I had. After our first long cycle ride, I literally had to get someone to lift me off the bike because I’d totally seized up!"
Who else is taking part in Tour De Celeb? "TV presenter Jodie Kidd, Made In Chelsea’s Hugo Taylor, rugby legend Austin Healey, Olympic skeleton racer Amy Williams, TV presenter Angelica Bell, cricketer Darren Gough and TOWIE’s Lucy Mecklenburgh. We’re all of different abilities, but we all spur each other on."
How long was the training in the build-up to the race? "It’s three months of training and we had to go out every day on the bike. When I took the challenge on, I thought being physically fit would get me through it, but it’s the mental side that’s so tough. You hit the wall and you’ve got to get through it. Dancing is short bursts of energy whereas this is all about endurance. They eased us into our training with 5 miles, then 10, then 20 miles and that’s when you really started to feel the pain."
At any point, did you regret taking part? "Do you know what, when you hit that wall, you ask yourself, 'Why am I doing this?' I went to the initial meeting and said, 'Yeah I can ride a bike, I’m fit.' But I’ve never done anything so hard, so demanding. When you’re physically exhausted you have to just push yourself to the end, when all you want to do is throw the bike off the edge of a cliff!"
Have you suffered any injuries? "As a dancer I never had a major injury but doing this, everything’s tight – my hamstrings, my lower back, my hands ache from pulling the breaks, my shoulders ache from the bike position. The other day during a 20-mile ride, I fell off the bike and was physically sick twice!"
And we thought The Jump was bad?! "I know, but at least when we did bobsleigh, it was over quickly. This seems like it’s never over. You go to bed at night so exhausted and wake up knowing you have to get back on the bike and go for a 75-mile ride!
"The Jump was dangerous, but I’d say this is as dangerous and far more demanding. If you fall off the bike at 40mph, the people behind you can’t suddenly stop. You don’t think of that when you take it on. A lot of us have had falls and been in quite dangerous situations."
Do you get to eat a lot as you’re burning so many calories? "Yes, that’s the great thing, we can eat as much as we like. It’s about eating the right foods, of course, and getting the right kind of rest, but it is a 24-hour a day job. I have such admiration for cyclists now. I live in the country and I see people on long cycle rides all the time. I used to be the driver who’d be like, 'Get out of the way!' Now you realise how vulnerable they are and how hard it is."
Are you planning a long holiday on a beach after this? "I am! I’m going to Spain, to my husband’s family home and I’m going to do absolutely nothing apart from eating lots of paella! I will cycle again, but without the pressure of having to do it. All of us have put so much effort in because we want to be a part of the race. My timing doesn’t matter, I just hope I can complete the race!"
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I'm a huge fan of television so I really have found the perfect job, as I've been writing about TV shows, films and interviewing major television, film and sports stars for over 25 years. I'm currently TV Content Director on What's On TV, TV Times, TV and Satellite Week magazines plus Whattowatch.com. I previously worked on Woman and Woman's Own in the 1990s. Outside of work I swim every morning, support Charlton Athletic football club and get nostalgic about TV shows Cagney & Lacey, I Claudius, Dallas and Tenko. I'm totally on top of everything good coming up too.