Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Six times up Alpe D'Huez.....

About a month ago Gary told me about a cyclist, a friend of his boss from work, who was attempting to ride up Alpe D'Huez - six times in one day. Gary and I know what its like to ride in the mountains - this seemed mad.... unbelievable... it would be torture ... why would you?....

It transpired that the cyclist - Graeme Rolinson was attempting to raise money for a prostate cancer charity, we immediately decided to support this worthy cause - and to encourage this nutter to attempt something so utterly ridiculous!

We've now heard back from Graeme, and I've taken the liberty to post his message on this blog - thanks Graeme, you've done something unbelievably special, you'll remember it for ever, you've raised money for a great cause and, hopefully, inspired others to 'do something'.....

Hi Guys,

Thank you both very much for sponsoring my Big Challenge to climb the Alpe D’Huez mountain six times in one day.

My Day started at 2:30am with a quick shower and then on to the first challenge of trying to eat porridge, banana and golden syrup at such an unearthly hour. 

3:15am and I leave my apartment in the resort of Alpe D’Huez, under-dressed for temperatures of just above 0 degrees. Lights on then I was off with hundreds of cyclists descending the mountain. At this point I really wished I was a spectator because the sight was something to behold, even from my point of view on the bike it was amazing although scary at times as some peoples' idea of lights is about 1 lumin and flashing. Not mine I was like an aircraft coming into land.

After about 30 minutes of steady descending we made Borg D’Oisson which was to be our starting point. Here all of the riders gathered until approximately 4:30am when fireworks marked the start of the event. There were somewhere in the region of 5000 cyclists and runners taking part on the day and it took me nearly 25 minutes to crawl through the spectator lined streets of Borg. This is where I got the biggest case of goose pimples I have ever experienced. This is surely the closest I will ever get to experiencing the Grand Depart of a Pro Tour. The crowd, at 4:30am in the morning, are out and way more enthusiastic than we all were. I will never forget this.

At 4:55am I hit the first incline, clunk, clunk, clunk down the gears of my 50/34 12/28 Crank and Cassettes and try to get into a rhythm.  A great feeling but also a very scary one as I start to make my way through the sea of riders covering the right hand side of the road. I discover the best place for me is to float either side of the central white line dodging the descending riders some of whom clearly have night vision as they have little or no lights on.

Doing my research most people said that the first three ramps were the most difficult, with this I do not disagree, but I never found the information listing the fact that the next three are also very tough - especially on cold legs and when you can barely see where you are going and trying to avoid other riders with constant short bursts and changes of pace.

I try to count the hairpin bends down hoping to play mind games with myself. At about the half-way point I suddenly notice it is going light, this in itself gave me a real lift to the point where suddenly I notice that I am turning the last switchback and up the ramp to the resort. This can catch you out as there is still about 2k to go to crest the top and through the resort, but pure adrenalin and achievement wash over me. I pushed through the resort and over the finish line for the first time to loud cheers and applause from even more spectators.

Right then, One down five to go. This can’t be that bad can it?, it seemed like it was over in a flash.

I descend filled with pride as I watch an army of riders grinding out their first ascent.

When I get to the bottom I grab a small soup and set of for my next climb. I hit the first ramp again only this time it feels like they have increased the gradient of the climb. Of course this was not possible, I suddenly realised that the adrenalin was wearing off and now it was time to slug it out. It was much easier to get a rhythm, however it was at a slower pace than the first climb. By this time more spectators were coming out to support, in fact this continued all day and was so special.

Hairpin after Hairpin I count them down until coming into the resort. My wife and children are there waiting and shouting encouragement to me. As I swing past them and under the tunnel I am not afraid to say I felt very emotional, lump in throat and eyes welled up.  I started to think about why I was doing this challenge and suddenly the legs were back. Descending full of pride I started to think of all the people who had sponsored me per climb, I now believed that I could do this challenge and make maximum money for the charity.

Climb three, four and five were just hard work slugging it out and trying to distract myself with whatever support, entertainment or scenery I could look at. By this time I had got the mountain sussed. I knew when to take it steady, when to eat, when to drink, when to take those much needed wet sponges off the helpers at the side of the road.

At the end of climb five I saw one of my work colleagues who had come to spectate, he had been counting all of the teams ascents and suddenly realised that this was my fifth climb. I could see his excitement that I was well on track to complete the planned six and now had four hours to descend and make the final climb. With words of encouragement I pushed onto the top and took a short break eating and drinking whatever I could get my hands on from the volunteers in the resort.

I really enjoyed the last descent. Knowing I had completed five times and I was now on my way to my last ascent. We were staying in Alpe D’huez resort so I had no choice - once at the bottom, if I wanted to get home I had to climb!

I had plenty of time left to complete my climb and did it with a huge smile on my face. Like the first climb it seemed to be over very quick, I am sure this was adrenalin and euphoria. As I approached the last switchback I looked for my family and friends knowing that they would be waiting for me. I had a final kick and there they were, shouting and cheering me on. I had another overwhelming feeling of euphoria and emotion with the obligatory lump in the throat - I knew I was nearly there. I pushed on through the town and finished very strong.

Once off the bike the adrenalin quickly subsides and the tiredness moves in reminding me just how tough this challenge had been. At 8:30pm I hit the pillow and slept a solid eleven and a half hours without moving during my sleep.

Now back in the UK and fully recovered I still have a little smile on my face every time I speak to someone about the challenge.

I really want to finish by thanking you very much for your support of a relative stranger and fellow cyclist. I can tell you that you have helped me raise in the region of £2,000.00 (money still coming in so I do not know the final figure) for a very worthy cause.

Many Thanks & Best Regards


Wow! - fantastic achievement Graeme - well done 

No comments:

Post a Comment