As a fairly recent convert to cycling, I (perhaps foolishly) signed up to do a 3-day ride in July with a few other like-minded souls over some of Europe’s highest, steepest, and longest climbs, including Tour de France favourite Alpe d’Huez, and over Col de la Bonette, which is Europe’s highest road at [eu_only]2,802 metres[/eu_only] [not_eu]about 9,100 feet[/not_eu].
I signed on to this crazy ride motivated by the desire both to conquer the mountain and to help Love146 conquer child trafficking. I had heard about Love146 through a chance encounter with a friend, and it struck a deep chord. The stories of Love146, of surrounding children who had been trafficked with love and hope, would no doubt keep my legs moving during the most challenging of climbs.
Most of my normal riding had been done in the south of England where the highest “peak” is around [eu_only] 200 metres[/eu_only][not_eu]656 feet[/not_eu]so this effort was something of a step up for my legs, lungs, and sanity. I rode up Alpe d’Huez on a Saturday, only about 4 hours before the actual Tour de France riders would arrive. The climb was pure craziness as I was cheered on by thousands of pumped-up spectators who’d been camped out on the route for up to a week beforehand in the hope of seeing their cycling heroes. It seemed that my struggles were a good warm-up act, and their enthusiasm helped me conquer my first real “Hors Categorie” (i.e. the hardest) alpine climb.
On the second day I struggled as I had to ride through 3 major “cols” (mountain passes). It was just pain, pain, pain as my energy levels dropped off and the air temperature rose into the [eu_only]30s[/eu_only][not_eu]90s[/not_eu].
Knowing that I was riding for such a good cause helped to motivate me and keep the pedals turning even as my legs and lungs were crying out “Stop!” for several hours on end.
On the third day, a steep [eu_only]22 kilometre[/eu_only][not_eu]13.6 mile[/not_eu] 2.5 hour climb over Col del la Bonette (the highest road pass in Europe) was a surreal solo endurance test. I had to find my own pace/rhythm and just keep going even as the landscape changed around me from lush woodland to alpine pasture and finally to bare, wind-swept rock. Then it was all downhill into Nice (for [eu_only]100 kilometres[/eu_only][not_eu]62 miles[/not_eu]!) so I got the payback there for all the effort I’d put in, on top of the satisfaction I felt at reaching the very peak.
I’m so incredibly pleased to have raised more than [eu_only] £1700,00 [/eu_only] [not_eu]US $1,860 [/not_eu] for Love146. My thanks go to all my individual sponsors, and Microsoft (which matched my funding) and to Love146, which has been hugely supportive of me in preparing for this event.
Though my adventure on the mountain took place many months ago, my memories of the ride will always be coupled with my knowledge that through riding I have been able to help make a difference in these children’s lives.
Supporting the cause at Love146 makes it worthwhile tackling a walk, run, or cycle. What challenge will you take on for 2016? Put the active in activism:
[efsbutton style=”” size=”” color_class=”” align=”left” type=”link” target=”false” title=”Learn More About Tread on Trafficking” link=”www.love146.org/tot”]