TWO-THIRDS A MADMAN
My total lack of training - and in particular, training going up hills - was a niggling worry at the forefront of my mind as Jackie and I headed for Malaucene to pick up my hire bike. It's true I'd got considerably more miles in my legs cycling to and from the Olympic Park in east London for work. I'd even done some spinning classes - but, would pretend hills in a gym session and a series of 40 mile commutes on flat city roads really help me tackle the Giant of Provence?They were directing multiple sheep dogs to push their flocks along. One group of these not so dumb animals congregated around a drinking fountain at the roadside and noisily slurped the eau potable on offer. I opted not to refill my bidons at that stage.
I made a stop at the Simpson memorial - and felt genuinely moved. It's so tantalisingly close to the summit.
The words on the plaques there from his widow and daughters, and the simple tokens left by fellow cyclists - including water bottles, caps, even inner tubes - speak eloquently. It's a bleak, tragic and truly evocative spot.
The final turn up to the weather station at 1910 metres kicks up cruelly but briefly and once you've put a spurt on to get round it, you're at the top.