back to archiveBlood, Sweat and a few tears...
Society Director Alun Pugh writes: "Montelimar at 7.00 was a bit special. Nearly ten thousand people lining up to ride a 177K mountain stage of the Tour de France a couple of days before the pros show the World how it's really done. Despite six months of training on the biggest hills of Snowdonia I was more than a little nervous pulling a red Wales shirt over my head and swinging my leg over the bike at the start. And waiting for us at the end was the 22 uphill kilometres of Mont Ventoux.
"The first 40 miles were plain sailing. The Provence sun hadn't got to work and the combination of closed roads, masses of carbohydrates and cheering crowds meant that the peletons were moving at over 30 Kph. Even climbing the first col was straightforward enough after spending the Spring hauling myself over the likes of the Crimea Pass.
"Then came the crash. I got hit from behind and had no chance of recovering before I hit the tarmac at over 30 kph. It removed much skin from my elbow, back and hips but it felt as though nothing was broken (as a post race X ray confirmed) and so I hauled myself back on to the bike. The temperature had now hit 30C and there were four cols and 60 miles to go.
"My rear tyre exploded on Ventoux to add further interest to the day and a couple of kilometres of uphill pushing came to an end when I was able to buy a replacement from a support crew assisting a Sky Sports team. It was a relief to get to the top, collect my finishing medal and get cleaned up in the first aid tent. I'm not normally emotional but it was good to see my wife 500 metres from the top.
"Many thanks for all the sponsorship cheques. The appeal still open if you would like to contribute - simply go to our home page and make a credit card donation. Every penny raised (and it's over £3,000 so far) has gone into the charity's bank account to support our work of protecting the National Park. And for anyone contemplating the Etape de Tour in 2010 I would simply say "It's a tough but highly memorable day; prepare to suffer a bit, get the training miles in the bank this winter - and watch your back!"