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...raised since September 2021 by cycling challenges.

Raising awareness on the racetrack - in a Citroen C1 race car - in 2024.

The plan was to do what I couldn’t do last year – and that was to ride from Sault to the top of Ventoux non-stop.

A slightly different back up team (provided again by Mellow Jersey) comprising my trusty ‘wing-man’ from 2021, Alan Robinson, with James Walsgrove (a cycling coach and guide) and my partner Zoe. This year also saw me in the purpose made Challenge-TM jersey.

We all met up at the house in Bedoin on Saturday 3rd September with Zoe and I having driven over the mountain from Malaucene (so that I could remind myself how stupid that particular climb was and for Zoe to see what it was all about!).

The plan was, weather permitting, to attempt the Challenge on the Monday so, in order to loosen my legs up after two days of driving, I had a short ride on my own to the base of the Bedoin start of the climb proper. I set out just to do 45 minutes – and covered just 8.36 miles – but it felt ok.

Sunday was a complete rest day, having figured that riding on the Sunday last year may have been partly responsible for the collapse on the mountain.

It was an early start to Sault on the Monday and it was decided that Alan would carry out the same role as last year by driving the van and being on standby, should I need catching/pushing or whatever else befell me! James was going to ride with me and Zoe accompanied Alan in the van.

After a few photo’s in Sault (and my last pee!) we set off at 8.11 am with the same ambition of getting to the top non-stop.

Things went well for the first few miles although the heat was rising and I had to stop for a ‘mechanical’ reason; putting a sweat band on my forehead due to sweat dripping into my eyes.

I suffered the same intense pain as normal (within my feet and upper back especially) but my absolute focus was on how best to deal with the ramp out of Chalet Reynard as this was the pre-cursor to everything going wrong in 2021. 

We got to Reynard in 1 hour 41 minutes – almost 15 minutes up on the previous year – but I chose to circulate the car park and grab a fresh bidon before attacking the ramp…which was climbed without issue. It was bizarre, as I felt very comfortable and even caught up with another rider. Alan was waiting for me near the top (as we approached the point where it all went wrong last year) and jogged alongside me as I passed that point and breathed a massive sigh of relief (and shed a tear) as I had surpassed last year’s effort without a major concern. However, I wasn’t looking at the time and a few minutes later I started to feel the problem of last year returning – albeit much further along the route. Unbeknown at the time it was around the same 2 hour barrier where things started to go wrong and I had to call for Alan to catch me as everything shut down. I was devastated.

But, things were different as, whilst I has stopped I didn’t actually collapse, so after a round a minute of literally just sitting over the bike I asked Alan to push me off again. Zoe had to guide my right foot into the pedal and my capability of balancing was zero but, once moving, I managed to carry on again for a few hundred yards. Alan ran alongside me and James kept very close attendance (with Zoe now driving the van). I managed another 7 minutes before shutting down again, then 4 minutes; 9 minutes and 6 minutes to the top.  Every stop required a catch from Alan, a brain/feet re-set and a push off. I was still annoyed at myself for ‘failing’ again but, as everyone told me (and logically they were right), as I didn’t get off the bike could the stops even be classed as such? In Zoe’s eyes I did do what I had set out to do and it was certainly a major improvement over 2021. 

Things weren’t all sweetness and light however as I couldn’t walk unaided and, when returning to the house, I was in a bit of a mess (caught on video!).

The proof of everything being better was demonstrated the following day when James and I rode a 17 mile loosener loop from Bedoin and, on the Wednesday, Alan and I revisited the beautiful ride we had enjoyed in 2021 from the outskirts of Sault northwest along the foot of Ventoux and around to Malaucene. That ride formed part of a test to see how far I could ride before everything shout down and, in the end, it all started to go wrong after around two and a half hours (and 33 miles).

A rest on Thursday (sadly also the day when Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II passed on) saw me seriously contemplating whether to try to climb Ventoux again, but this time from Malaucene. It was something I had talked about doing for no reason other than I could and in the end, without the pressure of ‘non-stop’ I decided that I would give it a go on the Friday.

At 8.20 in the morning James and I mounted our bikes (although I needed both Zoe and Alan to help me get on mine) just outside the town and set off through town and up the mountain. It was busy, but the brief was that I would stop regularly (whether I needed to or not) and ride with the sole intention of getting there – no matter how long it took me. The actual riding time was pretty much the same as it took to climb from Sault with the distance slightly shorter due to the greater average gradient. There were a lot of stops – and I had to be caught every time – but no repeat of the major episodes faced four days prior. It was immensely satisfying (despite the ridiculous amount of pain) but also set in motion my thoughts for the next Challenge: could I climb all three ascents in one day? Watch this website!