Here we go again! I have not posted on this blog for a while but its not been all quiet on the cycling front. In 2016 I clocked up more miles and climbed higher than in 2015 when I first set up this blog to promote my Geneva to Milan challenge.
Most notable last year was my climb up Mont Ventoux followed by Sa Calobra in Mallorca.
The Ventoux ride was something I always wanted to do but never thought I could. For those who remember I was quite unfit and overweight. The Alpine challenge was to reset my body and mind clock and get fit again during which I lost 14kg (nearly 2 stones) in weight. At the invitation of my friend and fellow retired GP Dr Trevor Hall I decided to attempt Ventoux.
In early October, starting from our base in Tour Tour in Provence, a two hour car ride brought us to the pretty town of Sault at the base of this mighty mountain. I had preordered a bike from Albion Cycles (I rated them 5 Star on TripAdvisor) and after a brief warmup was on my way.
The total distance is 26km with 1210m of climbing. After leaving the heady aroma of lavender fields the road gently climbs through a beautiful pine laden forest area until it reaches Chalet Reynard. After a brief stop for refreshments from my excellent support team (Singh and Hall family) the road jacks up to an average 8% gradient and enters the unique “lunar” windswept landscape for the last 6km. Getting over the final km with a gradient of 10% is very emotional and you can see many a cyclist in tears of pain and relief.
Final push, at the top and “lunar” landscape road to hell. Proud cyclist representing Shepshed Cycling Club.
For me this was a great personal achievement. But an even greater feat was to follow. I was already booked to go on a cycling holiday with some of the Hope riders that were part of my group on the Geneva to Milan ride.
On the day we set off from Porte de Pollençia and after some incredible scenic riding reached Coll dels Reise from where the road descends steeply into the sleepy fishing village of Sa Calobra. Some say the treacherous descent is more difficult and technical than the ascent. One thing I am sure of is the sheer trepidation with each switchback descent and and the sinking feeling that I’ll have to climb this way back again!
After a lovely lunch to stock up on body carb stores it was time to climb the 9km back to the top. One beauty of cycling is the comradeship one develops with fellow cyclists. I am sure if I didn’t have this invisible force urging me up I would have found it very difficult to get to the top. After some more carb intake at the summit it was time to hit the road back to base, made more exciting with two heavy showers and fading October sunlight.
The Mallorca trip brought 2016 to a very satisfactory end. Over the winter I have managed to keep up some indoor cycling but like most people over the holiday festivities put on some weight. Looking ahead I am hoping to get back to my ideal weight. I also have an amazing challenge for 2017.
I am revisiting Ventoux in June. They say that to climb up this mountain once is a feat that every cyclist aspires to, to ride up it twice is quite a challenge but to go up this mountain three times in one day is insane. No wonder cyclists try and do this to gain entry to the coveted Club des Cinglés de Mont Ventoux, cinglés being French slang for nutter or mad.
Normally it would be very difficult to organise this kind of challenge due to the logistics involved. Fortunately our local Air Ambulance has come to the rescue as far as logistics are concerned. They are organising this ride and I am joining 9 other riders in attempting this great feat. Inevitably to do something like this involves fund raising. I think it is a great privilege that I am able to do so for this very worthwhile cause. The Air Ambulance is entirely funded by voluntary donations and as each rescue costs upwards of £2000 I will be glad to raise even half this amount.
To this affect I have started a fund raising page and any donations however small are most welcome:
For the rest of the year I have various rides planned and I shall go into these in more detail over the next few weeks and months. I also hope to continue to promote cycling especially in my community and to talk about the role of exercise in maintaining good health.