So, all of that emotion, that anger, inspiration, the pain, the ecstacy of completing a big climb. For all of this stuff to happen a lot of dull stuff also needs to happen. The not so exciting element of preparation.

Riding A Bike

Well, it goes without saying that I am going to cycle a lot as part of my preparation. The difficult part is getting ready to climb in a country where there are no hills. I just have to cycle a lot. In to wind. On long, flat roads. Just building endurance. There is one small hill but that is over forty kilometres away and it is not that big anyway. The Amerongse Berg, Berg being Dutch for mountain. With a height of sixty-nine metres the application of the term mountain is optimistic. Mild swelling maybe?

Still, there is interval training to get vaguely excited about. I do these on short rides during the week. Tabata Intervals, a good way to train hard in a short time, ready for the hard exertions of power that are needed for climbing. Basically, you knacker yourself with twenty minutes of eight short, hard sprints andm afterwards, trundle home. A scientist said that is a good idea. I am an idiot so I do two sets and then trundle home really slowly. I like the wind behind me for these because there has to be something exciting in all of this. My excuse is that I am training for high-speed descents as well but….. that’s bullsh*t. It’s just a speed kick.

Difficult picture to take: Altitude Sickness meant it was difficult to hold my phone straight.

Other Exercises

Strengthening the arms, stretching the back, lots of stuff that which is actually the embodiment of the dull side of preparation. I could describe it but… it is just dull! Jesus, what is exciting about laying down and rolling on two tennis balls to massage your spine? If you find that exciting well….. you’re weird….. just don’t come near me.

Food and Drink

Less of the fun stuff. That’s it. That’s all.

For what it’s worth my two strongest rides in the last month were both after late nights involving beer. Nutritionists don’t know sh*t.


It will be cut. I also may not shave for few days, get a more rugged look. Clutching at straws but, you know.

Mental Preparation

My first big mountain was Mont Ventoux, a sponsored climb. To get myself in the mood I watched a film called ‘Ventoux‘. Dutch film. Nice bit of drama related to cycling. In the first five minutes someone dies descending too quickly. I then started to read about Mont Ventoux and the memorial to Tom Simpson that is near the summit. It’s a memorial because he died. This time going up. Nice to have examples of death in both directions.

Lot’s of death on that mountain so, in a fit of pessimism, I thought I would be one of them. I am still here so that was obviously a flawed assumption. I just went up and was driven down afterwards so that avoided any risk death through fast descent. Tom Simpson died due to a combination of heat, Cognac and amphetamine. I took note and avoided the latter elements for breakfast.

That first climb of Mont Ventoux set the pattern for all ‘big’ rides. There is always the pessimism that comes at the start. Will I make it? Why the hell am I doing this? Then it swings in to an insane optimism. On that day my legs, always a concern, were good. I didn’t feel pressure to complete although generous sponsorship made sure I wanted to. The weather was good, dry, not too hot and not too much wind. Something happened. Some sort of psychosis. Because it hurts, it’s good. Everything will be ok. I will make it. No chance of failure.

The tough part is building that belief in advance. I am working on that.

Tom Simpson memorial – taken after 2017 climb which I also survived.

Having Fun

Enough of the serious stuff. Actually, what serious stuff? Probably a little flippant this time but that doesn’t matter. This reflects the main point of all of this. It is going to be fun! Pain, sweat, hair-raising descents. Fun. In a beautiful part of the world with good friends who have the same psychosis as me. I don’t have to do this at all! There is no pressure here. I do not need to climb mountains. But I want to. In nice company. What else is needed? This preparation may all be dull but…. worth it. For all the special stuff that will enable me to do.

I am looking forward to it all.


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