Michael W
Posted by

The road to Nice

Michael W
Posted by
23 May 2013

One of the High Alps Challenge team members, Sarah Nichols, has written this fantastic blog post about why she's taking part and what it means for her.

I signed up for the High Alps Challenge in February, naively after a winter misspent off the bike and in the pub. But I wanted to do something big as a mark of respect to a friend of mine who pushed himself to his limit in his successful fight against Burkitt's lymphoma last year. But the day after signing up, I was knocked of my bike into rush hour traffic... not the ideal start to training I had in mind!

Finally started training at Easter, with some short rides, and have been steadily building up fitness. The distance each day is now not too much of a concern for me, but having never cycled up even one mountain, the climbing has always been my main concern. So there's only one way to face the fear...

After a couple of decent rolling sportives (albeit pretty slow), I found myself on a family holiday in Pollensa, Majorca a couple of weeks back. I knew I wouldn't get a better opportunity to train, so I headed off in hunt of a bike shop... if it's good enough for Team Sky, its good enough for me!

I headed off in the direction of Soller, another Port further down the coast, having done very little research into the route. After 15k I hit the first climb, a gentle 8k, average gradient of 5.5%, not too bad I thought, I can do this! Then I realised it was nothing in comparison to what I would be faced with in July. It's amazing how fast the miles can pass when the scenery is so beautiful, and we were soon climbing again to a higher summit of about 1000m I'm told. 

Then the fun bit, a 15k descent down to sea level for lunch, that is of course, until I remember that the only way home is back up the 1000m high, 15k climb with just one small bottle of water for company... well I'm pleased to say I managed it without stopping, albeit temporarily crumbling in a heap at the top! All in all, it was a 130k ride with circa 2400m of climbing, so that felt like a massive step forward in training.

But before I get ahead of myself, I have to realise that the gradients were not as steep as what awaits us in the Alps, and my legs were very tired the next day, so the last thing I felt like was doing it all again! So with 6 weeks to go, and back in London, it's off to Surrey in search of some good hills this weekend. Over the next few weeks I will be combining my training with spin classes, cycling to work, and gym sessions to keep previous injuries at bay.

I still feel like a long way off being Alps ready, but I certainly feel like I am making progress. I am learning fast, that it is quite amazing what you can achieve when you push yourself to the limit.


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