Grant Lottering is not one to give up easily, but the ex-professional cyclist had little choice after hypothermia set in during his most recent Im’possible Tour.
Lottering started his fourth endurance tour through the French Alps on July 2, but was forced to abandon due to extreme weather and health concerns after a mere 20 hours.
Roughly 300km into his ride, Lottering reached the summit of the Col du Glandon in temperatures close to freezing. It took him two hours to climb the mountain pass which stands 1 924m tall.
“My core body temperature just dropped and there was nothing we could do to revive it. My heart wasn’t responding and I couldn’t regenerate my energy,” he said.
“It got to a point where I knew I simply had to stop, I had no choice. I had to obey how I was feeling, but my heart was torn.”
His heart rate dropped to 113 beats per minute while tackling the climb and Lottering explained he’d found it difficult to think clearly.
“With the previous tours I’ve focused not just on how I’m feeling but on where I’m going, why I’m doing it, where I’ve come from and how much I’ve overcome.
“It became very difficult for me to do this and that’s why I realised there was something else wrong with me. I was struggling to concentrate and think rationally.”
Along with his support crew, Lottering made the decision to call off the tour after having completed 409km. While he said it had been a logical choice, the Laureus ambassador did not want to let down his supporters, sponsors and crew.
“Since my accident I’ve overcome so much and I’ve never had to face the reality of failure,” said the Randburg resident, who added he used the term failure loosely.
Having unknowingly battled hypothermia and covered more than 400km, Lottering said he was happy with his efforts.
“When you’re used to pushing yourself so hard it’s tough to accept defeat, but in life we need to give up control.
“You can plan everything down to the T, everything can be perfect, but it still doesn’t guarantee a perfect outcome.”
Lottering said he had slowly come to terms with his decision and while he had spent almost a week recovering from the physical exertion, it took him three times as long to overcome the disappointment.
“Afterwards I had a very shallow heart rate and was out of breath very quickly, so I literally did nothing except eat a lot. I just needed to rest, which I did.
“I started training two weeks later, going on gentle rides, but it took me a bit longer to get the mental strength back. It took me two or three weeks to get over the disappointment; it was a huge anti-climax.”
More positive now, he said he was already planning his 2018 tour, which would not be linked to a single race (this year’s event took place in conjunction with the La Marmotte Granfondo) and could be moved should inclement weather wreak havoc again.
“I’ve got plans for next year and I’m already working on plans with my sponsors. The Im’possible tours will continue.
“I’m returning to France in the next three weeks to recon the route for next year. It will be different; it will be a world first.”