The Road to Ventoux - Blog 10, 27/09/20
30 September 2020 Charity Fundraising

The Road to Ventoux - Blog 10, 27/09/20

It is a couple of months since I wrote a Road to Ventoux blog and a lot has happened.  In my last blog I described how I had ridden up Ventoux virtually and was planning on ridding up it in real life in mid-August.  However, like so many other people, our plans to travel to France were wreaked by COVID and the imposition of quarantine requirements for people returning back to the UK.

Since then, things have become even harder for people in North East England, along with several other parts of the UK, with imposition of severe restrictions around meeting people from other households.  This will hit some people very hard indeed, especially those with pre-existing mental health problems.  During lockdown a group of my colleagues came together to create a web based support for people struggling with self-isolation – www.NorthernMentalHealth.org.  This site continues to be updated and provides a wealth of advice around dealing with isolation, self-management of anxiety and depression, dealing with isolation and how to stay safe at these difficult times.  Please have a look at the site and share it with others – there is something there for everybody.

At these times it is also important that we continue to conduct important research into mood disorders to help further our understanding of these devastating conditions and how we can better treat them.  Currently we have a number of treatment trials running in the Northern Centre for Mood Disorders – see www.mood-disorders.co.uk.  The Ventoux3 challenge is all about raising money to support this research work through the Out of the Blues charity.  To make a donation go to https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/outoftheblues.

So back to the cycling and my preparation for the Ventoux3 challenge.  During my staycation I was able to get in a few longer rides around Northumberland – it is a great county!  Rides included going to Holy Island, Keilder and over to Lanercost in Cumbria.  Fortunately, the weather was also great.

In addition to rides outside, I have also been training hard indoors on Zwift.  This has included my second ascent of Ventoux when I knocked 13 minutes off my previous time – so I must be getting a bit fitter!  I even had a very appropriate bottle of wine to celebrate (see photo).

However, not to rest on my laurels, my main news is that I have taken on a professional coach – Edward Beechinor-Collins (see www.velocoachne.co.uk).  The marvel of technology allows Ed to set me training sessions in TrainingPeaks which automatically load into Zwift, and then once I have done a session, my performance is uploaded to TrainingPeaks for Ed to see.  Ed has also generously agreed a discount on his coaching fee so that the saving can be paid into the Ventoux3 JustGiving account (https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/outoftheblues) to support Out of the Blues: a win-win situation!

Getting back to COVID, my major concern at the moment is that it may not be possible to undertake the Ventoux3 challenge in May as planned.  If this is the case, I have limited alternative options.  It might be easier to travel to France in the summer.  However, the heat then can be ferocious and may make it neigh on impossible to complete the three climbs.  Similarly, at the end of October, the weather can be pretty unpredictable at the top of the mountain, with gale force winds being the norm.  As a result, if May 2021 proves impossible, then I may need to wait till May 2022.

If the date of the challenge does get put back, it will be important to keep the momentum of both fund raising and my training going.  As a result, my plan will be to attempt to do Ventoux3 virtually in May next year – harder than real life, in that the virtual climb is the hardest of the three on the mountain itself, but easier in that there are no gale force winds in my garage!  In addition, I will take on some additional challenges to tide things through.  More detail on these to come…..

I wish everybody the very best and I hope you all stay healthy.  What ever your situation try to make exercise of one sort or another a part of your daily/weekly routine.  If you want to get involved in the Ventoux3 for Out of the Blues challenge in any way, then drop me an email at r.h.mcallister-williams@ncl.ac.uk. 

Hamish McAllister-Williams

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