This years Rapha Rising has been and gone. This year i took part. Now before i started i thought about the challenge. Climb 7235m in 8 days, the combined height from sea level, of the Peyresourde, Ventoux and Col de Sarenne. Oh and two times up the same height as Alpe d’Huez to match the Tour riders. That makes it sound harder than i thought it would be. I thought ok, a hill near where i live is over 100m. All i need to do is go up that 72 times and i’ll complete it. Easy!
So i joined in the challenge and started planning some routes. I must add that i was short of time having just become a Dad of twins so long days in the saddle where impossible. I was really short of time. That meant hill repeats were in order. First up was Burrington Coombe. A beautiful Carboniferous Limestone gorge in the Mendip Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. I set off midday in a temperature that had me sweating before i’d even got my shoes tightened. I don’t do well in heat at all and went through 3 bottles of water very quickly as i climbed the Coombe 5 times to record 1128m. Not a bad start. I was aiming at 1000m a day without tiring out my legs too quickly.
I was hoping to find a bit of climbing form during this week, starting out with weak legs and hoping to make them strong i woke on day two aching a little too much. Having less time for riding i headed off to a 10% climb nearby and set to climbing it, over and over. The heat was too much for me and i only managed about 600m before i started gasping for a drink. Not as much as i’d hoped but enjoyable. I started to enjoy climbing again and attacking the hill with tired legs to see what they could do. At home that night with aching legs i had a rethink.
I needed hills that were steep enough to give me the height i needed to climb in the shortest distance but be sustainable for the rest of the week and in the quickest time. Nothing mega steep and nothing too long. 5km hills climbing over 200m were too long. I needed about 100m in around 1km so i found a few options and spent the next day trying them out and clocking up over 1300m bringing me back on track. Jamie came out and rode some repeats too which helped with the boredom!
By the middle of the week i was worn out and panicking that i had so much to do and didn’t manage to ride much. I started to wonder if i could finish it and planned short rides first thing in the morning and last thing in the evening. Thankfully my legs were starting to feel good and i beat a local hill that i’d been struggling with all year. The thing is just silly steep you hang on to the bike. That evening i rode short repeats as the sun set and the moon came out. That was pretty good fun riding at night in the moonlight. Getting home that night i knew i should be able finish it.
I wondered if mentally i could make myself do more repeats, lots and lots of them if i was going to complete it. They are so extremely boring. I started counting them in my head as i turned the pedals, one is none, two is poo, three is free, four is a bore, five is alive, six is the pits, seven is heaven, eights not great, nine’s not worth a dime, ten is for Ben (my baby Boy), this one’s for Molly (my baby girl). I think i was going mental by this stage. Inspired by Froome accelerating away from Contador on Ventoux i rode like i was breaking away from imaginary riders with Hugh Porter commentating over the top of the action. Yeah i had gone mental.
Two more days of doing that and i was done. It was all over. It was kind of sad not to go out for a ride the next day but i really did need a rest. Walking was a little difficult, i’d pushed myself more than i ever have done before on a bike and i couldn’t believe i had finished it. I’ve not taken part in many sporting events, a 10k run and Audaxs as as far as it goes. I’m just not that good for a start so to receive the patch from Rapha for completing the challenge is pretty awesome. I’ll be keeping that one safe and will bore my children about riding my bike up hills in the dark ha!
Did you take part in this years challenge? If so let us know how you got on and where you rode. See more about the challenge over at Rapha.
Here’s their infographic with all the stats of the challenge: