Last week David Bott, our Senior Partner, took on the challenge of a lifetime as he flew out to France to cycle part of the Tour de France route for charity. We catch up with him to find out how he got on.
Preparing for my challenge
I tried to go out as often as possible, bearing in mind that I have to hold down a job and keep two girls (11 and 8 years old) and my wife happy, or at least not actively hostile!
I had done “Spin Classes” over winter but I am really not very sure that they did much benefit other than a psychological one. So my official training started in March of this year.
I tried to get in as many hills as possible so The Brickworks, the Cat and Fiddle, Goyt Valley, Kettleshulme and Wizard Hill were the places I mainly went to.
Prior to the event the most challenging ride was the Polkadot Challenge in May which was 97miles, with 10,300 feet climbed and took place in sideways rain.
I did as much as I could but whether it was enough was always the concern.
My statistics over the course of March to June were as follows:
|Month||Miles||Feet Climbed||No of Rides||Ave/Week|
The Mont Ventoux Challenge
The Challenge was organised by the Premex Group and more specifically by Chris Wheatley.
The idea was to go up Mont Ventoux twice in two days – once from Sault (the “easy” way) and once from Bedoin (the hard way- and the way used often in the Tour de France). The start of each of the two routes is completely different but the last 5km is the same whichever of these ways you go.
Both days involved about 110km (67 miles) of riding, so we could enjoy the countryside to and from the climb.
Thursday 26th June
Mont Ventoux from Sault – the easier way
On this route the climb to the top of Mont Ventoux starts at Sault and involved 26km of climbing with varying gradients.
There was 21km of riding at 5% or lower followed by 5km at 8% with a kick of 10% just at the end.
The 21km through the forest at 5% was genuinely enjoyable. My natural “one paced – diesel engine” was quite well suited to the climb. Although I must say that the 5km at the end were considerably less enjoyable but I was happy with how I had climbed and equally happy that I had not pulled a muscle or got a cramp.
Part-way through I stopped and paid my respects at the Tommy Simpson memorial and just took in the view, which was amazing.
The long descent to Malaucene was a joy (even for such a timid descender as me) and the club sandwich at Malaucene was a sheer delight.
Friday 27th June
Mont Ventoux from Bedoin – the hard way
Friday’s climb saw us start our ascent at Bedoin for 22km of climbing with gradients of 5% for the first 6km followed by 11km at 10% or above. The final 5km had a gradient of 8% with a kick of 10% at the end.
I was quite wary of the climb, especially as the hard bit of the previous day was the easy bit of this climb.
Luckily Stuart Hall (a super fit 58 year old ex pro cyclist and the tour organiser) stayed with me all the way up so he could provide advice on when to get out of my seat, how to choose gears better and to breath deeper. So myself, Stuart and three more formed a little pack and hit the Mont.
The word that comes up most when describing the forest section is relentless and it totally is. It is hard to do the forest section from Bedoin justice – there’s 11km of 10% gradient with little gnarly bits which are closer to 15% gradient.
I only asked Stuart once “how much farther in the forest?”, and he said about 1km. It was more like 4km but it turns out that 1km is his standard answer! Keeping a rhythm and just concentrating on being in the moment was all I focussed on.
When we got out of the forest I had not taken in much fluids and I was getting quite light headed and a bit cold. It was 30ᵒC at the bottom of the Mont but only about 8ᵒC nearer the top, plus you/I sweat a fair bit after 11km of riding at 10% so getting cold is more of a problem than you would think. Luckily the support wagon was waiting with water and flap jacks so after a pit stop we were off again.
A few kilometres on we paid our respects at the Tommy Simpson Memorial and I left a BuyaBike bottle as a memorial.
1km of 10% gradient later we were all at the top: Elated, tired and cold but very proud of our achievement.
After that it was time for the superb descent into Malaucene where we celebrated with another club sandwich.
I must admit that the ride back to the Hotel was a struggle. Everyone had put everything into getting up the Mont and there wasn’t much left to give, so much so that when one of our group had a puncture the rest of us cheered as it meant a few minutes respite.
Upon return to the hotel I celebrated with 1 beer, 1 diaralyte, 2 paracetamol, 2 ibuprofen, 1 protein drink, 1 shower and a lie down. I am told this is what all the champions have!
So now it is over, I am very glad to have done it. I’m really proud to have completed the challenge without a hitch and am looking forward to the next one. I just need to decide what that will be …
If your business has an upcoming event or you have an idea for a charity challenge for David Bott then get in touch!