A team of nine intrepid cyclists from the personal injury and insurance claims market have returned triumphant from France, after taking on the world famous climb of l’alpe D’huez. PremExtra caught up with organiser Chris Wheatley on the way back down…
A year on from 2014’s incredible ascent of the Beast of Provence, Mont Ventoux; this year’s team chose to tackle arguably the most famous mountain from the Tour de France. “This is the big one that every professional bike rider would like to win and as amateurs we were all up for the challenge” says Chris.
Alongside Premex’s Sales and Marketing Director, were Peter Thompson from BGL Group, David Bott from Bott & Co, Andrew Simcott from Michael W Halsalls Solicitors, Jonathan Scarsbrook and Rob Watson from Irwin Mitchell, Craig Budsworth from True and Russell Atkinson from National Accident Helpline. Joining the team for 2015 was also Mark Ratnaraja of Parabis.
The two day challenge took in a trio of alpine ascents beginning on Thursday 9th July with a climb up the col de Glandon, the Col de Croix de Fer and finishing on the top of Alpe D’huez, all of which have featured in this year’s Tour de France route. “The first day was a really big ride and took a lot out of us, but credit to the guys, they made it to the top of both climbs and the descents were epic. I would recommend to anyone to give this a try – we were able to stop and fill our bottles at alpine springs where the icy fresh water cooled us down.” says Chris.
The second day saw the team take on the Alpe once again tackling Alpe D’huez and its infamous 21 hairpins. “The heat was intense – 42c – and it was also radiating off the asphalt,” says Chris. “One cyclist we came across had been descending the mountain at speed and because of the heat generated by her brakes on the way down, her carbon wheels literally collapsed.”
As anyone who has tackled this kind of climb will tell you, the intense gradient is something not for the feint hearted. “It’s relentless,” says Chris, who managed to reach the 1700m summit in one hour and four minutes. “It’s quite a busy road as well so you have to avoid traffic and you can’t always take the ‘easier’ route up the inside of the hairpins if you are on the wrong side of the road. In the end, the whole team made it to the top and I have to say everyone was really brave. It was great to freewheel down the other side at the end of a really hard day.”
£55,000 and counting
After last year’s team raised over £30k riding up the Ventoux, the 2015 team has added a further £25,000 to that total already. “We are delighted to have nearly matched last year’s total because we took on this challenge with a bit less publicity and fanfare than 2014,” says Chris. “We’ll be heading to the Pyrenees next year to cycle up the Col de Tourmalet which is the last of the Tour de France ‘big three’, so hopefully we can add even more to that total.