Here is the full report on Aron’s Bike Ride for Havens Hospices, there is still plenty of time to donate: https://www.justgiving.com/Aron-Priest-Cycle
After the many months and weeks organising, scrutinising itineraries and carefully packing equipment into cars, our journey started, like all great journeys do… in McDonald’s. After a short stop for food and well-needed coffee, we continued the long journey to the Provence region of the south of France, eager and slightly apprehensive about what is waiting for us when we get there.
After starting the day at 4.45am we are finally here and have seen the top of Mont Ventoux in the distance. The temperature is 37.5c, and it’s seriously hot tonight but we will be sleeping within the tree line of the famous mountain.
Tomorrow the challenge begins… bring it on, allez allez allez!
As we awoke in the early hours we could see the weather station in our sights. We then headed down to the base of the mountain prepared our bikes and set off in good spirits on a flat ascent. This easy going ride lasted for about eight minutes before the climb started and as we hit the forest the reality of what lay ahead of us. As the climb progressed the temperature started to soar to 35c salt was oozing out of our skin, we took two bottles of fluid each but it soon became apparent that wasn’t enough.
With the sun beating down on us we were edging closer to the summit, with 6k to go we broke from the trees to be surrounded by the white rock of Ventoux. Reflecting the heat, the white rock made it almost unbearable with the temperature now reaching highs of 38c with another 6k to climb. The weather station was in sight but the road kept pulling us further away from the summit. With only 2k to go the appreciative supporters of other cyclists they were spraying us with water to cool us down in the roaring heat. With 1k to go I passed Tom Simpson’s memorial and it was head down and final push to the summit. The final 1k was the hardest but the relief and sense of achievement well over weighed the pain of last 14miles. Finally across the line, I figured that to date the hardest thing I have ever done… At least, until tomorrow… 3 more climbs tomorrow.
Morning, the camp is now fully functional with lights, music system and flags flying. The day started with a 1.5 hr drive over Col de la Croix de Fer. The atmosphere was building for the Tour with the rows of camper vans waving as we drove past with all the different nations flags represented.
We began the days cycling with an 11km descent through the trees with the sun beating down again. This time it’s over 40 degrees. After a short ride along the valley we reached the base of Col du Telegraphe and began the arduous 11km ascent with an average gradient of 8%. As we climbed higher, the blazing sun on our backs and the heat from the baking tarmac forced us to weave across the road searching out any small amount of shade available.
We climbed on and on as the kilometre markers slowly ticked by until the 1km marker was reached and the end was in site. The leg pain was temporarily forgotten when a break in the trees gifted us a magnificent view of the surrounding mountains and valley far below. We quickly refocused and pushed on to the summit where ice cold drinks and much needed food were waiting.
After recovering for a short while, photos were taken by the summit sign and we began the fast descent back into the valley and onward to the last climb of the day. Albiez-le-Jeune, the brutal 11km long and 36 switchbacks climb back to the cars followed by the journey back to the campsite.
Allow me to introduce myself before writing on Aron’s behalf for the final day.
My name amongst our cycling club (LLBcc), is Super C and I come from North Yorkshire (known for its hills!) When I found out that I was about to embark upon a cycling holiday, in the Alps with a bunch of guys from Essex, I honestly thought, do they know what they are letting themselves in for?! I can now say, as we are on our 4th and final day on the bikes, that Aron has done an absolutely superb job and should be credited for the commitment, effort, enthusiasm and determination he has shown each and every day!
For myself at least I can train on hills, for Aron and everyone else it must have been a complete shock to the system. The ride today took us to the summit of Croix de Fer, nothing else in the UK compares to this climb. We were literally climbing for 2 hours solid with NO let up and honestly, I thought today could break some people with the temperatures of 40 degrees plus. I was so pleased and proud to see everyone giving 110% all the way to the top.
The last 4 days have been a real pleasure cycling with LLBcc, especially seeing everybody set their own personal targets and smash them. If there ever was a good cause to sponsor, this is it. Aron has ridden out of his skin and left everything out on the road. Respect! Chapeau Aron and all my Essex mates!
There is still plenty of time to sponsor Aron, take a look at his JustGiving page here.
Keep up to date with the LLBcc by following their Twitter profile here.