I got involved with the High Alps Challenge primarily to raise money for Leukemia and Lymphoma Research. My 5 year old Nephew, Daniel, was diagnosed with a type of Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma in 2011 and after a terrifying and painful ordeal he was given the all clear about 18 months later. He is a very happy and energetic boy now and I have no doubt that the research undertaken by the charity over the years will have contributed enormously to this so I really wanted to give something back. It just so happens that I have recently taken up cycling as a hobby and was very keen to test myself in the Alps. And it was definitely a test!
Having recently ran a marathon I felt like I was in decent shape to complete this challenge but 3km from the summit of the famous Col de la Columbiere on day 1 I thought I had possibly bitten off more than I can chew. The heat, gradient and a mountain top cafe that appeared to be getting further away made this probably the most strenuous days' activity of my life so far. The ice cold Orangina at the top was like a small taste of heaven! But with the initial shock of climbing an 'Alp' over with, the rest of the week didn't feel quite so bad and the climbs even became enjoyable after a while. It's just a case of getting into a steady rhythm, not over-exerting yourself early on and looking forward to racing cars down the other side! Also, assistance from the support crew was never far away with drinks and a constant supply of delicious home made rice cakes available to keep you fuelled all the way up and with the Alps in summer being one of the most beautiful places on earth, there's plenty of opportunities for a quick break to take it all in and grab a photo.
Without a doubt this is a challenge, but one that anybody can do with the right mindset and a reasonable level of fitness because the positives more than make up for any pain. It truly was a fantastic week!
If you think that you may be interested in taking part in this event, then sign-up at the High Alps Challenge 2014 site run by Traverse Aravis.
Click on the following link if you want to read an in-depth, day-by-day blog about 2013's High Alps Challenge.