“ Amongst the thousands of special moments (the dark ones I have forgotten), I will always remember Phil shepherding me up the Crouzette, Aimar warming me up with Speculoos filled crepes before a cold descent down the Peyresourde, Ian making sure I never left lunch without pudding, and Louise putting up with my whining every night.
Thanks to my fellow riders for your mix of passion, toughness, and relentless optimism. It was really inspiring to see you guys both hammering it out AND smiling day after day. It has definitely changed the way I view the sport, and probably life. And I have to say again, I was really moved by the gesture of you guys waiting for me before the final stretch…Coming home with you all was a fantastic feeling.” CB, CCC Pyrenees 2014 Rider.
If you are thinking of registering for a Cent Cols Challenge, please take time to read through all the information on this site. These events have been called “life-changing” by many, a description that has not been chosen randomly!
With all four 2014 CCC’s now ridden, here is a short summary of each event designed as a pointer for those considering entering one of these events in 2015 :-
CCC Corsica. Definitely the one to start on. With fewer steep gradients, the challenge here is in the “technical” road surfaces, the constant climbing with little recovery time in between and the tight, unpredictable descents. This was ridden by many CCC veterans who gave it a BIG thumbs up for its sense of journey and discovery and for the unbelievable beauty of the island and the chosen route. Full route ridden by almost all the field. ** CCC difficulty rating
CCC Alps. Replaced in 2015 by the Southern Alps, this began with a 5,500m UP day that many suffered from for several days after. Many developed saddle sores caused by the heat & the long hours in the saddle. This route was a mix of classic climbs well peppered with names that will be unforgotten but were hitherto unknown (Mont Vial,as an example!) Full route ridden by 80% of the field. The Southern Alps will be tougher in its second part, but overall will be fairly similar. *** CCC difficulty rating.
CCC Dolomites. Replaced in 2015 by Cantabrico, this is, and always will be, the Real Kings of Pain event. The uncompromising gradients of so many of the climbs meant that knees popped all over the place, despite warnings about ‘pacing’. Weather was harsh, roads were busy, but the raw beauty of the dramatic scenery, especially in the regions peripheral to the Dolomites, uplifted riders and spirited them on in the face of abandon. Nevertheless, only nine riders managed the full route, such was the price paid in the fight with the Giants. ALL riders however came away with a big smile on their faces, feeling that victory was theirs’ nevertheless !! Too right! **** CCC difficulty rating.
CCC Pyrenees. The “improved” version. This will also be the route for 2015. Ridden by many who had ridden the original Pyrenees route; completed by only SIX riders, this was judged by many to be “just as hard as the Dolomites”. However, in typical CCC spirit, it was also voted to be an improvement on the original route. (Harder = Better in the CCC dialect).The pureness of the rural beauty softened the blows for some and cast a spell on all, even if they couldn’t complete stages and had to miss some ‘up&back’ climbs, deliberately included as a get-out for those who just could not go on. Those who used them as a ‘convenient short-cut’ all regretted doing so later on. This is a MASSIVE ride ! **** CCC difficulty rating.
“ I find these events go way beyond physical capabilities. You need to engage a mental attitude on par with the road ahead of you. Never expect or accept an easy option. I believe many of this group would have been physically capable of the task but may have just lacked that mental strength to just tough out the moments (or hours) that seemed unbearable. One rider showed phenomenal mental commitment, he broke two ribs in a crash on the morning of stage one and still completed about 80% of the 10 days! Hard as nails.”
“ a CCC is not a souvenir magnet to fix on your fridge to show off, it’s a complete inner experience which only a few will manage to complete and fully understand. CCC does not happen outwards, it’s all inwards.”
“ The size of the field (usually about 30 riders) and the half dozen staff means that by day three or so everybody knows everybody’s name and you really feel part of a close friendly group, trying to help everyone succeed. The organiser and his team have set it all up so well for us, without them, such a challenge would be impossible. We have done so many climbs, some were a breeze, some an almighty struggle and as with all the Cent Cols routes it’s the previously unknown climbs that highlight a day or the back roads we take. It has been so savage that only six riders managed to complete the whole route. The event is so intense you have no time off the bike for anything other than to eat, sleep, endeavour to stay awake during the nightly briefing and to arrange ever increasingly elaborate feats of engineering excellence to wedge, suspend and oscillate the hotel’s bathroom hair dryer to dry your kit by it’s self (many a fuse has been blown).
Events for 2015 : places are now on sale at Rapha Travel. See Registration page for 2015 prices. ( A small increase has been unavoidable in order to make these events sustainable. The extreme nature of these events puts as much pressure on costs as it does on legs !)
CCC CORSICA 18-28 May(TWO-star difficulty-rating) The second edition of this highly successful 2014 event. Probably the most appropriate event for those looking to ride their first Cent Cols Challenge.
CCC SOUTHERN ALPS (NEW) 6 – 16 June. (THREE-star difficulty-rating) (Nice to Nice) A chance to explore the southern part of this vast range in more detail. With a planned ‘Northern Alps’ to follow on from this in 2016, for those who are looking for an ‘Alpine Double’ treat.
CCC PYRENEES 30 August – 9 September.(FOUR-star difficulty-rating) The 2014 route. Rivesaltes to Rivesaltes. Proven magic, untouched by time. TOUGH !
CCC Cantabrico 14 – 24 September. (NEW). (FIVE-star difficulty-rating) Bilbao to Bilbao. The BIG climbs of the Vuelta and so many more. From the Basque Country to the Picos region and back. TOUGH !
CCC Cevennes to Cantal. (NEW) 29 September to 9 October ( TWO-star difficulty-rating) Montpellier to Montpellier. Limited to 15 places, for its’ first edition,, a very special ride through some of the wildest parts of France : Cevennes, Ardeche & the Monts du Cantal. The perfect CCC for those looking for a tough, but more “social”, ride without too many steep gradients.
HARDENNES : a week of riding and race-watching on the best roads of the Belgian Ardennes. See Training page for details.