The epic challenge of Mont Ventoux on day 7 was by far the hardest day for the riders. The scene of so much history from Tommy Simpson who died 1km from the top to the more recent exploits of Armstrong and Froome it is a special place that challenges all who take it on.
On reflection many of the London to Monte Carlo riders picked it as their highlight although on the day it was more about survival. Joe and Stephen took the camera and took it head on…
It’s 6am on Monday 23rd of June. I didn’t sleep last night and as I sit here in the 9th different budget hotel in as many nights I am slightly torn. On one hand I am relieved that the immense challenge and physical exertion is over. This morning the ritual that has been the last 9 days of my life can be broken. I don’t need to eat 1,000 calories for breakfast, return to my room, chamois up, prep my bike, fill my water bottles and cycle 180km. Instead I will go down for a normal breakfast and either come back to my room for a snooze or head down to the pool. The key point is I have options and both are infinitely more appealing than piling more pain onto my aching body.
However I am also sad that it is all over. When you look around the room at your fellow cyclists at the beginning of a adventure like this you have no way of knowing exactly how it will all work out. What you do know is that it will work out and that you will need each other to get through it. This trip has been incredible. We have experienced massive highs and faced challenges as individuals and a group. There is nothing like the act of peddling up a huge hill for hours on end to really strip away ones defenses and leave you venerable and reliant on some camaraderie and support. In my opinion it is healthy to step well outside your comfort zone on occasion and cycling my 17 stone body 1,500kms from London to Monte Carlo certainly ticks that box.
Many thanks to the riders, the support crew on the road and back at Dow Jones HQ, the sponsors and our supporters who have enabled us to raise so much money for two excellent causes.
I am a little shy of my £2,000 goal and would appreciate and support you could give me
I have some great footage from day 7 onwards that I will be looking to post in the next day or two – once I have the luxury of my broadband internet connection rather than relying on iPhone personal hotspots.
See you next year?
More posts to follow including the day we took on Mont Ventoux, buying fruit by the road side and tequila shots is Monte Carlo. However in the meantime I’d like to confirm …. we made it.
Day 6 completed. We rode 187km from Lyon to Bollene, mainly along the banks of the river in 38 degrees temperatures. It was hot and tiring but with very little climbing it was billed as a transition day to get us ready for Mont Ventoux. We cycle the mythical mountain tomorrow – well actually later today as it’s 12:45am with breakfast at 6:30am.
The reason I’m up a little late is I wanted to give a taster of day 6 in the saddle. If you are considering it for next year do get in touch….
As an update to the previous post’s video – Matt Turner is being tended to by France’s finest.
It was billed as the toughest day yet and as the thunder claps and the rain starts to fall over The Best Western Hotel just outside Lyon at 7pm (11 hours after we started) we certainly weren’t disappointed. The riders are arriving, picking up their luggage and heading for the showers. The delight of getting another day under the belt is well hidden behind very tired eyes.
The illnesses, knocks and bruises are mounting up but with such a physically demanding undertaking I guess these can be expected.
The day by the numbers
- 191 kilometers cycled (202 by some counts)
- 1,879 meters climbed
- 6 categorized climbs
- Our first col (Col des Echarmeaux) was 20km long with gradients of over 7%
Below is a video recorded 15mins ago at 7:30. No editing, no catchy music just a real snapshot of life on the ride.
Even in my second year of the London to Monte Carlo ride I still don’t trust the route guides. What on first glance would appear to be a gentle run in with a lovely down slope invariably becomes the mother of all climbs. Having said that tomorrow is meant to be one of the easiest of the 9 days as we descend the from Lyon towards Bollene.
Bollene is our staging ground for the assault on Mont Ventoux and a “rest” day is in the offing. How on earth a rest day can consist of cycling 184 kilometers I don’t know but that is what tomorrow has in store for us.
I thought the best way to give you a sense of the ride was to put together some of the photos and video we have taken so far. The thing that doesn’t come across is just how good the crew is. The fact that they don’t speak a word of English and we have only a fairly poor recollection of our GCSE French only adds to the occasion. Two members of the crew have been directors of pro cycling teams and the masseur worked for Team Saxo as recently as 2013. He has even handled the legendary legs of Alberto Contador. To get advice and attention from a group like this really adds to the experience and we all feel very lucky…
Mont Ventoux looms large in the future and we catch ourselves talking about it regularly. I think the reality of just how tough it is going to be is starting to sink in. We have 3 days of cycling before we get there so (as with the daily schedule) we are in breakfast at 6:45am with the start scheduled for 7:30am. The first 20km is neutralized behind a lead vehicle which gives a nice opportunity to stick together and warm up our legs before the day starts in earnest.
Word has reached me that our supporters in the UK have heard precious little about our journey to date. Two main reasons; we’ve stayed in two hotels so far and wifi has been wanting, day 2 was 195 km which is a long way.
I will write a full post tomorrow of the story so far but in the spirt of timely news I’m grappling with my iPhone and the intermittent 3G network.
First thing to report is Kevin (Dassault Systemes) took a fall today 2km from the finish line and after a 3 hour hospital visit has had a fracture to his arm confirmed. Our intrepid 20 riders are down to 19 I’m afraid. The only small consolation is Kevin is speaking at Fund Forum and we’ll see him at the finish line.
That disappointment aside the ride had been tough and enjoyable. The crew are fantastic with an amazing resume of professional cycling experience (more to come regarding them tomorrow).
So for now to bed but follow this blog for future updates.
So here we go. 11pm the night before the adventure begins. I’m in the midst of packing, checking equipment (including testing whether I can update the blog from the iPad) and fretting about all the things I might forget or that could go wrong.
I cannot wait for 8:30am to come and we set off on our first of what will be 1,000 miles. At that point everyone will have met, the crew will have given their safety briefing, day bags will have been packed with spare inner tubes and each individuals own sweet treat and the majority of the organisation will be done.
We will very quickly immerse ourselves in the job of getting from A to B. Maybe it is the basic simplicity of that very act I find most appealing but I’m looking forward to it. The tough bits not so much but I guess we’ll have to take the rough with the smooth
So here’s to 9 days of challenge, camaraderie and trying to watch as much of the World Cup as possible while riding from London to Monte Carlo…
My aim is to bring readers of this blog some footage from the London to Monte Carlo ride this year. My slight concern being that remembering the ride last year I could barley write a few hundred words blog post at the end of each day due to exhaustion and a lack of hand function.
However in true British spirit I am casting doubt from my mind and practicing with the GoPro to give you an intimate portrait of the ride, some stunning shots and some behind the scenes footage and interviews.
Below is some sped up footage of the 40k loops I was doing in Spain a week or so ago to practice using the kit. See if you can spot when the incline gets to 23% (hint: it’s when I stop and lean heavily over the handlebars)