Three grueling stages across the French Alps, racing iconic climbs including Alpe d’Huez, Col de Galibier, and Col de la Croix de Fer. But to put my personal challenge into perspective, the true grit and endurance was that of the wounded servicemen in my Walking With The Wounded Team. Don Maclean, Rab Smedley and Craig Preece are all recovering from serious injuries and so to compete alongside the pro’s over the toughest stages of the Tour de France is a staggering achievement.
There were some seriously weary legs on the start line of Tuesday’s stage 3 after thee huge climbs the day before. Thankfully, the first 30km cruised swiftly downhill before any of the hard work started. The final challenge was the iconic Col de la Madeleine, a 1522 metre climb up 19km of winding mountain roads.
At this final hurdle, there was no longer any need to keep anything in reserve and so the team ascended at a fearsome pace. It was a joy to be a part of such a slick team, working brilliantly to pull each other along. I could see the suffering on each of the riders faces, but the speed never dropped… in fact we kicked in for the last few km for a sprint finish.
Craig Preece, who had been unable to ride the first few stages due to injury was also back on his bike. Climbing 19km with a prosthetic lower leg is incredibly impressive and the highlight of the Trois Etapes for me was joining the whole team and Carlos Sastres to ride across the finish line alongside Craig.
Man of the match for me goes to Simon Oldfield (Matrix), who was undoubtedly the strongest rider in our team and worked hard to keep everyone together on the climbs.
The Walking With The Wounded team completed all the timed ascents of the Trois Etapes in a little over 5 hours and 42 minutes. The winning time was 5 hours 10 minutes.
So what has been achieved apart from a few tired legs…for Walking With The Wounded, the team has so far raised over £40,000… and the event itself is just shy of its £1,000,000 fundraising target!
In real terms this charity fundraising means that Walking With The Wounded are able to support injured British service personnel so much better, helping them transition through re-training and re-education into civilian life.
So, if this challenge and the objectives mean anything to you please continue to support the Walking With The Wounded Team through donations at Just Giving.
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