Over the last few weeks I’ve been hunting for new challenges – on the bike. I’ve begun to ask myself how far can I go? I enjoy riding for its own sake, but I also like having something big to aim for. Until this year I would never have seriously considered even attempting some of the famous climbs in Europe or Australia for that matter. I always pictured myself walking or climbing up them – since I was a kid I’ve wanted to climb Everest – but not riding. But now I know that with right training and the support of my family it’s not so much a question of whether I can do these things but how well.
A moment of inspiration came last week when I got the email update from fellow cyclist and blogger, Gerry Patterson (Mr. Patterson Goes to Languedoc), saying We Need You!
This was a call-out for a member to join his team on the Haute Route, an epic ride from Geneva to Nice over seven days next august. They’ll climb over 21,000 metres and cover 800km on a course that includes legendary climbs like Alpe d’Huez, Colombier and others. The distance is tough enough, but 3,000m a day. Try doing a 1000m a day and tell me how you feel.
I thought to myself – this I would love to do. Imagine the feeling at the end of each day, and at the very end rolling into Nice. How good would that beer taste? I imagine feeling a little like Hannibal after crossing the Alps.
Looking into this I was encouraged seeing that a lot of the riders appear to be in their 30s and 40s or older, and with families. All are doing plenty of riding, but amounts that are at least theoretically achievable with a family and professional commitments. It’s ay beyond my league now, but for how long? It got me thinking, what would I need to do to be able to just finish a ride like this? I need some steps in between. Enter the 3 Peaks Challenge.
The fact that the cut-off is 13 hrs tells you something. The course is 235km long and takes in three brutal climbs in the Victorian high country including the ski resorts at Hotham and the back of Falls Creek, which starts with a 10km section at roughly 8-10%. That really is cruel and unusual punishment. Clearly just finishing this within the allotted time will be an achievement. Hell, just getting up Falls alone would be!
Looking at the suggested training , I was pleased and relieved to read that while there are more long rides than I usually do, I’m already doing the climbing quota. I’m currently doing between 180 and 250km with about 3,000m of climbing. So while it will be challenging getting up to a 300km per week, it’s basically just one extra ride. It sounds simpler than it is but I can do that.
Riding is so much more than riding. Each time I’ve taken my riding to a new level, each time I’ve pushed myself to ride faster, longer and harder than before, I’ve shattered my old image and limiting beliefs about what I’m capable of achieving. The first time I rode up Kinglake I did it by myself and I felt amazing. I don’t see it as anything big anymore but then it was. This will be no different. This is what has recently motivated me to combine coaching with riding so that I can help others use to tap into deeper levels of power and strength that can then filter through to other parts of their lives.
So this is the next step. After that I’m open to suggestions. I’m thinking about possibly organising a ride to raise money and awareness for a worthwhile cause, maybe even a customised version of the haute route, either solo or with a group. Any volunteers? If you have any experience in this area please pass on any advice via the comments below or make contact directly. And if you’d like to join me on a training ride get in touch. I’m now combining riding with life coaching.
If you’re interested in learning more about good climbs in Victoria, check out the climbing cyclist: http://theclimbingcyclist.com/. Gerry Patterson also takes riding tours in southern France which sound amazing. It’s also worth checking out the blog of one of friends, Robert Armstrong, who is quite an amazing athlete in various disciplines: http://www.nofinishlineblog.com/