Raceskin recently designed and produced 20 custom cycle jerseys for a group of work colleagues and friends who were taking on a mammoth cycling challenge to raise money for charity. Cycling from Mont Ventoux to Alpe d’Huez, which is 165 miles and a very ambitious 7500m of ascent in one day. This is a brief account of how hard a day they all had on the Vampire Ride (from dawn till dusk):
After 16 hours in the saddle, most of us had managed to drag ourselves to the base of the last climb: Alpe d’Huez. By that stage we had ridden 156 miles, taking in Mont Ventoux (an amazing piece of geology which you just cycle up continuously for 14 miles, and go up a vertical mile in the process), three category 2 climbs, two category 1’s, and a couple of cat 5’s for good measure. If that means nothing to you… it was very, very hilly.
The weather was around 33 degrees at the brief lunch stop, but some stunning scenery and great camaraderie helped ease the suffering. By the base of Alpe d’Huez however, the high spirits of earlier in the day had turned into silent small groups of riders in ‘hanging on’ mode. In the afternoon I had been suffering badly with asthma, but longer breaks and the encouragement of others had kept me on track.
As I started up the last climb of Alpe d’Huez I noticed I was barely managing to maintain a speed of 8kmph which would give me a two hour ascent time. That (lack of) speed told how completely beaten I was. The other riders in my group were in a similar state, and yet were all determined to get up Alpe d’Huez and complete the ride without any help. One guy got off his bike at every one of the famous hairpin turns to recover himself enough to get to the next hairpin. Another got off his bike, took off his shoes and just started walking. A couple of riders did the sensible thing and got in the support cars which I kept waving away as they crawled past.
Around two hours later at approximately 8.45 PM, Stuart Le Neveu - who was still climbing Alpe D’Huez - saw my bike lying at the side of the road. He then saw me about 10 metres further on, lying behind a low wall. He assumed I was ‘resting’ and shouted “Yes! I’m going to beat Scott!” As he drew level he quickly realised that I was no longer in the race. Despite my mumbled protestation that all I needed was some oxygen for my asthma and “I’ll be fine. Just leave me to lay here a bit longer”, within 5 minutes I was being carried and then driven to the hotel. I later learnt I had ‘expired’ just 600m from the hotel front door. My Garmin had packed up at the bottom of the climb and I hadn’t known I had been that close!
Thankfully, I was well within the town boundary and was therefore classed as a finisher. Result.
So, if you would like to make a contribution to make our efforts seem even more worthwhile than just the sense of personal achievement and to add to the 18 bikes we have already bought for school kids in Africa please do visit the Worldbicycle relief page and leave a donation. It is a great cause and we are delighted be supporting it.