The Road to Ventoux - Part 35
D-Day: The sting in the tail….
The Ventoux3 challenge is raising money for the Out of the Blues charity at https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/outoftheblues.
The last 6km……..
It was hot and there were some steep sections to negotiate. I had felt pretty rough when I had reached Chalet Reynard, but at the start of the final 6km, I felt OK(ish). I was managing the climbing better than I feared I would. However, my hamstrings were feeling tight, and I was fearful of them cramping up again. I kept telling myself that I was nearly there and to stay strong. This was not enough to stop cramp hitting me again. Once again, I had to get off my bike and stretch my legs. I eventually got back on again, which was a challenge given that my quads were feeling totally knickered and every time I bent my right knee, my hamstring threated to cramp up. I got going and was ticking off every metre in my head.
One of the most famous incidents on Mont Ventoux during a Tour de France was in 2016 when Chris Froome (who was leading in the Yellow Jersey) and two other riders crashed into the back of a motorcycle that had come to an abrupt stop because it couldn’t get through the crowds. Froome’s bike was broken and his team car with a spare was blocked by crowds further back down the mountain. So, he started to run up the mountain without a bike, until eventually his team car caught up and he got a replacement bike.
The most tragic incident on Mont Ventoux during a Tour de France was in 1967 when the British cyclist Tom Simpson collapsed and died 1km from the summit. Simpson was perhaps the most successful British cyclist prior to recent times of British Cycling and Team Sky and the likes of Bradley Wiggins, Froome, Garent Thomas and Mark Cavendish. Simpson was in the leading group nearing the summit of Ventoux in very hot conditions when he collapsed. Famously his last words before he died was "put me back on my bike". A lot is made of the fact that there was evidence that Simpson had been taking amphetamines. But he had also had a stomach upset and it was very hot which means that dehydration may well have played a part.
Both of these incidents were playing through my mind as I ground past the 2km to go marker. “If only I can get a bit closer” was going through my head. Then, right next to Simpson’s memorial, my right hamstring said “enough”. I could not get my leg to the top of the peddle stroke without the hamstring cramping up. So off I got. And, if Froome can get up the mountain on two legs rather than two wheels, so could I.
As I was trudging up the road, the support car saw me and puled over. Richard got out and walked with, which was a great. There was no two ways about it – it was pretty devastating not being able to still be on my bike. We reached a bend that had a flat run off section. Richard got me on the ground and tried to stretch my legs to see if this would help get me started again, but to no avail. We both trudged up the final few metres to the summit.
Whether on two feet or two wheels, I had completed Les Cingles du Mont Ventoux challenge!
Further information about the challenge, and my blogs about my training, can be found at http://outoftheblues.org/news/cat/the-road-to-ventoux.
Hamish McAllister-WilliamsNext Blog