Ultra-endurance cyclist Grant Lottering felt proud of his efforts during the 24-hour Alpe d’Huez even though bad weather forced him to abandon the attempt early.
He said the mental strength he acquired from the challenge last week would stand him in good stead for his Im’possible Tour, starting on September 1.
Lottering, 50, pushed himself to the extreme as he tackled the famous Tour de France 13km alpine climb that features a gradient of over 8% with 21 hairpin bends and a summit at 1 810m.
He used the event, also known as the #24hourHuez, as preparation for his Im’possible Tour where he will ride non-stop in a bid to conquer the main peaks in the French Pyrenees and Alps in under 72 hours.
Cycling in aid of charity, Lottering plans to cover a distance of 1 480km, which includes summiting 32 mountains and a total elevation gain of 26 470m.
“I was happy with the five up-and-down laps I did and as a whole I felt great, albeit lap three was difficult due to the heat,” he said of the Alpe d’Huez.
“Looking back I have no doubt I was good for 10 laps, 11 at a push. Ascent number five was my strongest and I averaged just under 12km/h.”
Lottering added that mentally he was very strong and although it was an intimidating climb it did not affect him psychologically having to make a U-turn and head straight back up once he reached the bottom.
“Mentally, it was a very good sign for my Pyrenees ride coming up on September 1.”
He said he had to stop due to it starting to rain on the fourth climb. He did not feel comfortable risking riding down the Alps at night with his Im’possible Tour just four weeks away.
“It was too much to risk. With my support and photographer the decision to stop was unanimous but easy as it was really a training ride for the tour and not the main goal.
“I was disappointed though because of all the support on social media.”
Lottering felt one positive he took from it was not to be afraid to try something nobody has tried before.
“The weather is beyond our control, but the decision to step out and take on a bigger challenge than you have before, with no surety as to the outcome, is well within your control.
“Don’t be afraid. Just make the decision to go for it and don’t look back. And if there are people who have a different opinion, you can just ignore that because you gave it everything. Most people are too afraid to take that step.”
Going through the laps, he said the first was the easiest although the hottest. He took it a bit easier on the second lap and kept his average speed at 10km/h, knowing there was a long way to go.
He struggled with the heat on the third lap and stopped a few times at fountains to “literally submerge” himself in ice-cold mountain water.
It started raining on the next lap, but he said the cooler temperature was welcome. “I took it easy on this lap as well and kept my average speed just below 10km/h.
“Heading down in the wet scared me as the descent is dangerous at best. Riding back up on lap five I felt great and gave it more effort, averaging around 12km/h to make up a bit of time.”
He added that arriving at Alpe d’Huez in the dark was fantastic, but then he and his team decided it was not worth the risk to continue in the rainy, wet conditions.
“I really wanted to get a 24-hour ride in the legs but it turned out differently.
“My Im’possible Tour will be 60% physical and the rest pure mental strength to get me through. This challenge would’ve been the same, but no regrets.
“Most of my hard training is done so my strategy up to Im’possible hasn’t changed.”
Lottering said when the time came, rain or shine, he would continue.
“There will be no turning back. My hope is to raise as much money as I can for the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation. Completing it will definitely result in more being raised.”