Re: Winter 2013/14 - Page 38

hatched and we decided to do it all again on Friday 20th September. Winds were predicted to be lower than at 15 mph rather than 50 mph plus, and it would apparently be a little warmer. This time we would go from Malaucene. The “joy” of this is that you actually climb a couple of hundred metres on the way out to the start of the climb “proper” but the climb itself is virtually the same distance and profile of the climb from Bedoin. We did do a couple of other good rides that week in between, and the special ones amongst us, Russell, Tim, Leggy and Michael even whizzed over to Alpe d’Huez to climb that on the Thursday. On the Friday we gathered again to go out to the second assault on the mountain. Does knowing what is coming make it easier or harder mentally? To be honest I am still not quite sure, though I guess I did have the confidence to know that physically I could do it, and had the experience of the previous climb, and of other rides during the week, programmed into my legs. As we set off again groups formed as expected, but this time I found myself riding alongside Ian for many kilometres. Having someone alongside certainly helped me, and I hope it helped him. This route has more shelter for a longer section. I suspect this makes it less photogenic for the Tour de France TV coverage, and that is why the Bedoin route is used more, it is certainly not because Malaucene is easier. There is a real steep kick of a section a few kilometres from the top, and it was towards the top of that that 36 I found myself separating from Ian. I panicked briefly thinking I was going too quickly for myself, but then I found that I was comfortable and checking my HRM I could see that my heart rate was at a level that I was comfortable with and from there I carried on alone. Occasionally another rider would go past or even occasionally I would claw my way past someone else, but slowly I kept ticking off the kilometre markings - which incidentally are the classic headstones! Into the last 3 or 4 kilometres it was getting tough, but I was determined that this time was going to be a finish in one “hit” and that my feet were not going to touch the ground until I had crested the summit. I was feeling the pain in my legs, but I also felt I had the energy, and so I kept in my head the hoary old cliché that pain is temporary but failure is permanent and kept plugging away. Within the last kilometre you meet the photographer who takes your picture then runs/walks alongside you to put his card in your pocket so you buy the picture later. Normally I hate having my photo taken, but on this occasion (because I knew it meant I was nearly there) I was actually pleased to see the camera. So with that card in my pocket I kept going on the last couple of bends and was so pleased to see the finish, and went over that last crest with a complete idiot-grin on my face. Then the foot hit the floor. My original goal had been to complete the climb, not to race and not necessarily to do it without a stop, for food or drink – perfectly good cyclists will accept this as a “proper” ascent – though an undeclared target of 3 hours was in my head. I did that in the first ascent on the Tuesday so I had accomplished my personal mission and did not feel I had let our sponsors down. The second ascent was done in one go without a moment’s stop, and in half an hour less, so I did feel even more satisfaction, and even more entitled to wear the tee-shirt (well, cycling shirt or to be totally accurate shirts). The support of the people who sponsored us, and especially the families who put up with us droning on about this for so long and then let us go off for the week on this mad scheme, made all the difference. It also made for a successful trip raising in excess of £14,000. I must acknowledge the team. Russell Johnson , Ken Broomfield , Tim Backhouse, Ian Stocker, Gary Walder, Simon Gates, Russell Gates, Steve Legg, Colin Young and Bob Thompson who were all in it from the start, Nigel Killner who had to retire injured shortly before the trip, and Michael Stansmore who stepped up brilliantly to keep the “11” numbers at 12. So yes, it was challenge accepted and met, and yes we raised well over our targets for the charities. But did the 12 of us away for the week manage to have a good time along the way? We most certainly did, but we also all know the code, “what goes on tour.....” By Dean Orgill