Ride 100 Cols in 10 Days.
The ultimate cycling challenge in the mountains?
Riding an average of 200km per day and climbing roughly 4,500 metres suggests it might be. Could this be for you?
Statistics are a vehicle of fear
As a list of figures, any Cent Cols Challenge looks to be reserved to a very small elite of riders lacking in sanity what they obviously have heaps of in brawn and muscle. Many of those who have ridden one can testify to this not being the case. Yes, they are tough. Yes, you need to train hard. Yes, on the event you will spend long days in the saddle. But the mind can reveal resilience that commands the body to reach unimaginable heights of achievement. This event is not a race even though you will have to keep up a fair overall pace to finish in time to recover for the next day. Endurance and ability to recover are possibly the most important assets to bring with you to this event.
Limits are perceptions
Some days you could wake up wondering how you will ever make it up even more mountains. A day ‘without legs’ is painful. But at the end of the day, with another stage behind you, perceived limits melt away giving you a new sense of confidence. You will be surprised at how much the beauty of the mountains help you deal with the pain.
Why? All find the answer within; few can explain to others
…and I am not one of them. Words cannot explain why so many who have ridden one of these Challenges say that it is the best thing they have ever done, and yet suffered so much when doing it. Tears, of pain and of exhilaration, have been shed in equal amounts.
A Simple Life: Eat - Drink - Pedal - Laugh - Cry - Sleep…
This is as close to a ‘holiday’ as the event gets. For ten days all you have to do is push on those pedals. The support team does the rest. Time ticks slowly to begin with: long hours doing the same thing. But the magic soon casts its’ spell. As with the best holidays, the vast majority of riders said that the end came far too soon.
Painful rejection or uplifting acceptance: the mountains choose
The mountains can be scary, brutal places when they choose to: their angry outbursts can occur suddenly and at any time of year. Other times they hide behind a thick cloak of mist or low cloud. You will feel their presence, but will see nothing. But in the summer they are generous overall and choose to share their beauty with those who come to meet them. This Challenge is obviously primarily about the physical side of ourselves, yet many have said that it has been equally a rich spiritual experience.
You are as good as you can suffer
Alas, this is an unavoidable truth of our sport. But this is exactly what brings the groups together. Friendships are formed for life. One’s ability to suffer and not succumb earns as much respect within the group as does the ability to climb up the hills faster than others. We are all facing the same monsters and as the whole group reunites for another dinner the sharing of a common achievement is intense.
Getting there is the best part
Having arrived at the top of one mountain, there will always be another one waiting. To climb a mountain is not to conquer it. Every meeting with a mountain will be unique. The cyclist will always have to prove he is worthy. There will always be a reason to come back. The achievement is almost ephemeral. But how you got there will last forever. The views, the road, the sun, the rain, the wind. Exhaustion, elation, confusion, determination. Cold water, a gel energy-kick, a cool breeze, another wheel to follow, encouragement from an onlooker. It is whilst getting there that we are ALL heroes.