When Dave Sims rode the 2015 Tour de France route on a Raleigh Chopper, it didn't please everyone to be passed by a bloke on a vintage kid's bike. Photos by Dave Sims/Team Chop
Imagine your reaction to being overtaken on Alpe d’Huez’s first hairpin bend by a Raleigh Chopper.
“Yeah, people weren’t always happy. They’d shake their head and mutter a few swear words.”
Dave Sims is the protagonist for the verbal outbursts that littered the switchbacks on the Alpine road when he rode up the Alpe two days ahead of the Tour de France’s arrival on July 23.
The 36-year-old, from Southport, rode 18 stages of the Tour on a modified-but-still-predominantly-original Raleigh Chopper raising money for Help for Heroes.
Assumptions that he would struggle in the high mountain passes were quickly dispelled, however, when he began breezing past riders on road bikes – including his friends who had especially flew out to France to assist him.
“My favourite was a bewildered Londoner with a strong cockney accent shouting, ‘f***ing hell, there’s some guy on a Chopper’. That made me laugh and cheered me up,” he chuckled to Cycling Weekly.
“Three of my mates came out to help on Huez but on the first hairpin bend I dropped them. I went up that climb in gear two like a man possessed.
“Huez was superb as it was the last mountain and my body had adapted to the demands I was placing on it. I reached a level of fitness that I’ve never had before and might possibly never have again.”
Sims has raised almost £8,500, almost double his target, after having his profile raised following physio treatment from Team Sky on an injured Achilles tendon that led to a meeting with Dave Brailsford and receiving a good luck voicemail off Tour champion Chris Froome.
“I was four miles into stage 14 and Jonathan, my driver in the motorhome that week, said ‘you’re riding 10 mph on a flat road. You can’t use your right leg. Just stop.’ Being told to stop was awful, I never wanted to hear that,” he recounted.
“I’d been speaking to Fran Millar who said to get in touch if we wanted anything so ringing Sky was my only option otherwise we would have had to go home.
“I rang her up and she said the physio had a slot at 7.30am so we drove 200km to meet them and they sorted me out with taping. It was brilliant.”
The qualified nutritionist says he is leaner than ever before and has no plans to hang the Chopper’s wheels up, rather he is fine-tuning plans for his ‘Everest’ attempt up Alpe d’Huez on September 27.
Achilles injury-permitting, he is to ride up the hairpin bends nine times, the vertical ascent equivalent of summiting the world’s highest mountain. “It’s going to be pretty cool to do it on the Alpe,” he added.
“Nine times is psychologically easier to deal with than 165 times up a local hill.
“If my injury is still not fully recovered then I’ll get two lads from the army cycling team to ride it and I’ll be the co-ordinator. This is just the start of the Chopper project.”
Video: Five-minute warm-up before you ride