At the beginning of July, Phil Deeker, a pyrotechnician from Salisbury, set off to conquer 300 cols in 30 days. Phil’s plan was to attack these cols over three routes across the Alps, Pyrenees and Cevennes, all routes established by the ‘Club Des Cent Cols.’ His motivation behind the 4,100kms and total 71,000 metre climb? MAG (Mines Advisory Group), a group who provide conflict-affected areas with a chance of a better future. CW takes a look at Phil’s diary as his journey of endurance draws to a close.
Ascension: 4,760 metres
Hours in the saddle: 9.17
As I approached Bedoin, and my 286th climb of the Tour, the mountain seemed to stand up and look down at me. The Ventoux is unlike any other mountain, it?s a pure loner. I timed myself from Bedoin village square, hoping to climb the 23 km from the square to the top in less than an hour and a half. I settled into a good pace early on, holding the bike at between 14-16 kph. Before I realised it I had got through the infamous steep wooded section and I hadn?t dropped below 11.5 kph. I must just mention the magic of the moment when, after the Chalet Reynard where you say goodbye to trees and welcome a mineral, lunar sun-scorched landscape, a rider only then has his first view of the climb : Provence ? miles and miles and miles of Provence. Unforgettable. I completed the 23 km from the square in one hour and 19 minutes, my best yet, and a little over 17 kph average. I had done the Ventoux justice.
Distance: 199 km
Ascension: 3, 840 metres
Hours in the saddle: 9.16
It?s the penultimate day and I really am feeling mixed up. This last month has been so hard, so intense and so emotional. I reached the killer climb of the day; a climb of a good 12km up the Col Toutes Aures and onto the Praletang, at 1200m high. It was steep, hot, relentless and yet my body coped once again. I held the bike at 11kph or more, despite the gradient often more than 10%. I had thought that it might have been a slightly easier day but why would I have though that? There are NO EASY days on this trip!
Total stats predicted by the end of tomorrow :
Cols climbed : 319
Distance ridden : 4,580km
Height climbed : 82,300 metres
Hours in saddle : haven?t worked that one out yet
26 riding days out of 29 ( two transfer days, one rest day)
Day 29. The Final Day
Distance: 168 km
Ascension: 3, 457 metres
Hours in the saddle: 7.19
This is definitely the beginning of the end of 29 days of freedom. I clean the bike lovingly and even put on a new pair of red tyres. Following some long climbs, I gdet my first view of Lake Annecy from the top of Mont Revard. Breathtakingly beautiful and yet another view that deserves a thousand words to try and describe it.
The first of a group of Cent Col riders is waiting at the top and welcomes me to the club. Nice touch! We ride together to the last Col of the ride. Once there, a larger welcome group applaud my arrival and my sons are there too. There are many emotional hugs and wet eyes. We all coast down to the exact town square where I set off from 29 days before, how unreal.
I am surprisingly empty of emotion. A week into this ride my eyes would fill with the tears at the thought of this moment but now they are dry. All the joy, the pain, the sense of achievement had been expressed in one very loud battle cry at the top of Mont Ventoux.
It has been hard but I always believed I could do it. Words are pretty insufficient when trying to express what I have been through.
For 29 days I have been an extreme rider. Now I?m looking forward to becoming a husband, father and a son again.
Until the next time!