The road to Ventoux - Part 6

Hamish blog 6 header

It has been some time since I last wrote a blog for the ‘Road to Ventoux’ site and a lot has happened in my preparations to attempt to become a ‘madman of Ventoux’.

Overall, I have been getting plenty of training in. In December I covered a total of 290 miles (467Km) with 14912 feet (4548m) of climb at an average speed of 16.7 mph (26.8 kph). So far in January I have covered 259 miles (417 km) with 12337 feet (3762m) of climb at an average of 17.4 mph (27.9 kph). The speeds are over flattering since I have done way more ridding inside than out, and you can go faster indoors – more on that later.

Not everything has been plain sailing. One of the reasons I have been inside so much is that on New Years Eve, on a nice sunny but cold morning, I went for a ride outside. Unfortunately, about 7 miles into the ride, I hit a patch of black ice on a straight bit of road and came off. Fortunately, the road was quiet. Even more fortunately I did minimal harm to my bike! However, a couple of my ribs and one of my shoulders remain rather sore but fortunately are not preventing cycling.

After my icy mishap, I have been staying indoors and managed to complete a 51 mile (83km) ride on 12th January. I think that the only way I managed to cycle for 2 hours 40 mins on a turbo trainer was because of using Zwift so that I was cycling through a constantly changing virtual environment. At the end of the ride I had two very wet towels!

Last week, work took me away to the Middle East. Prior to the trip I spent some time trying to work out how I could do some training while there. I identified two opportunities, one in Dubai and one in Abu Dhabi.

On the edge of Dubai, at a place called Al Quadra, there is a tarmac cycle path built across the desert – I guess you can build such things if you are rolling in oil money. There is a 48km loop with two extension loops of 18 and 28km that you can tack on. So last Saturday, I took myself off there at the crack of dawn and rented a Trek bike (not as nice as mine!) and set off with two full water bottles. There were plenty of other cyclists on the route, but still long stretches where I didn’t see a soul. I did both extension loops and got back to the start with my Garmin showing 92km, so I cycled on for another 4km and then turned returned to the start to record my first century – 100km (62 miles). Not only was this my longest ride to date, but also my fastest out of doors (17.2 mph / 27.7 kph). This was purely because while there were a few undulations, it certainly was not as hilly as Northumberland, and there were no tight bends.

The next day, slightly concerned how my legs would feel, I went to the Yas Marinas Formula 1 racing circuit in Abu Dhabi and rented a Scott bike. Loads of people cycle round the circuit on a Sunday and Thursday evening apparently. Sure enough, there were plenty of people, from little kids on bikes with stabilisers, adults learning to ride a bike, through to speed merchants on bikes worth well over £10,000 (if you have lots of oil money – why not??). The circuit is quite short – just over 5k. I did 6 laps alternating between taking it easy and working hard. The surprising thing to me was just how tight the bends are. Still being a novice on a bike, I slowed right down to go round these. So, as a result, my average pace for an easy lap and a hard lap were not much different. It has highlighted to me one of the major factors that means you can go faster on Zwift (plus you have hair down hill with no fear of falling off!) than in the real world. It has also made me rather concerned about the number of hair pins I will need to cycle up and, more importantly, down in my challenge.

So, some great rides, good progress in my training but a growing recognition that the challenge I have set myself is some what daunting. Having discovered that tight bends are not for the faint hearted, I am somewhat anxious about the numerous hairpin bends on the three routes up Ventoux. Then there is the amount of climbing – a total of 4300m. This is about what I did in the whole of December! The longest single climb I have done to date is just over 500m and that nearly killed me! I have now unlocked access to the Zwift version of Alp D’Huez, but this is only just over 1000m – I’ll need to cycle up it FOUR times!. The other major challenge is that my longest climb was done indoors. Apart from my fan, there is no wind! For 200 days a year the gusts on Ventoux are in excess of 50mph……..why did I settle on this challenge???

Well……If you haven’t worked it out yet (in which case go to the first blog here), I am doing this to raise money for the charity “Out of the Blues” that supports research into mood disorders. If you want to sponsor me on my journey to become a “madman of Mont Ventoux”, then drop me an email at

If you are interested in supporting Out of the Blues, you may be interested to know that we are holding a charity ball on Friday 20th March. For further information and to book tickets, go to: