You are viewing lilactoventoux

Lilac to Ventoux

Biking up Mt Ventoux for Alzheimer's Awareness

Journal Info

most_suspicious
Name
lilactoventoux

View

Navigation

May 25th, 2012

Welcome mat

Share
most_suspicious
Hi, and welcome! This is the journal for Lilac to Ventoux. I plan to cycle up Mont Ventoux on 25 May 2011, to raise awareness of Alzheimer's disease and funds for Alzheimer's research.

Read moreCollapse )

In this blog I will chronicle my preparations (and those of my family as well, because some of them will be coming along too!), and I aim also to post information about Alzheimer's disease and the current state of the research. I am hoping to learn a lot over the coming months, and of course, hoping also to make a contribution towards finding preventative measures and a cure for Alzheimer's. Your support and encouragement will be very much appreciated.

Lilac to Ventoux is also on Twitter (@lilactoventoux) and Facebook.

Thank you for reading!

Camilla

This time one year ago ...

Share
most_suspicious
... I had just reached the summit of Mont Ventoux. (You can read about that ride here.) Thanks to my lovely supporters, I managed to raise almost 1000 pounds for the Alzheimer's Research Trust in the UK.

For reasons too long and navel-gazy to go into, there is no bike challenge for me this Wear the Lilac Day. However I do plan to do something next year which quite frankly scares the living daylights out of me: I want to ride the whole route of the Amstel Gold Race in a single day. Once again, I'll be doing it to raise funds for Alzheimer's research, in memory of my Grandpa, and in honour of Sir Terry Pratchett.

I would like to make this an annual event (oops, I said that last year, didn't I?), so there'll be a name change (Bike Lilac) and I hope to launch a new website soon.

And now, I'm going to press send before I chicken out. Enjoy the rest of the 25th of May, and please do consider donating to your local Alzheimer's research organisation.

Thanks for reading. xx

May 29th, 2011

(NB: This was written on 26 May, but posted on 29 May)

It’s done. After almost a year of planning, training, fundraising and agonising over all of the above, the Glorious 25th of May has been, and Vimes and I have made it up Mont Ventoux.

I still can’t quite believe I did it. As with childbirth, I’ve quickly forgotten the pain, the effort, the concentration and the heavy breathing required to climb a mountain on a bike. All that’s left is the occasional involuntary screech uttered as I attempt to descend stairs, and a bunch of memories that seem to belong to someone else. I don’t know why this is – maybe it’s because, as I look out the window at the shadow of Ventoux in the darkening evening sky, it seems impossible that I – 41 years old, and of a distinctly Nanny Oggish build – could have managed it. I know I did though, because thanks to my wonderful support crew, Arnout and Emrys, there’s photographic evidence.

Click here to see photos and textCollapse )

That’s about it for the report, I think. I can’t quite believe it’s over yet. I’ve been looking forward to it for so long, and with a sort of *schwiff!* noise, it's whizzed past, just like that cyclist on the descent. I’m going to miss having Lilac to Ventoux occupying such a large part of my life.

However, this is not the end. Next year, I’m not sure what I’m going to do because dear friends of ours have planned their wedding for the 26th of May, which means no driving to huge mountains far away. Maybe I will do some kind of endurance ride nearby instead. 2013 is a different matter though – I’ve got a really cool idea for that, which I will infuriatingly keep under my hat until I’m sure it’s doable. Both of these events, whatever form they take, will be raising funds for Alzheimer’s research as part of the wider Discworld fandom 25 May efforts.

I still need to write my proper thank you post, but I will leave that till I get home again and have an internet connection that doesn’t involve walking down the hill in the dark and tripping over things.

In the meantime, thank you all so much for your support, encouragement and advice. It means a lot to me that you’ve all been willing to come along on this ride.

Camilla
xxx

IMG_0393

_______________________________________________________________

About Lilac to Ventoux

About me

How you can help

Re-posting always appreciated - just click the button below. Thanks!

May 24th, 2011

I’m posting this the evening before the ride, although it really belongs to the Glorious 25th of May. Everything’s prepared – bike checked over, clothes laid out, pasta cooked, bottles ready to be filled and approximately 300 energy bars ready to be stuffed into pockets. I’m planning to leave around 5:30/6am, in order to take advantage of the cool and stillness of early morning. The sun rises behind Ventoux, so it shouldn’t be a factor for quite a bit of the ride, and I’m hoping that the strong winds for which this ride is (in)famous will also stay away. (Must say I'm a bit worried as the Mistral has come in and it's nearly 10pm and blowing as hard as ever, argh).

I am trying not to wibble, and failing.

I’ve wanted for a long time to say a bit more here about my grandfather, David Sommerville, so I’ve written the following bit about him.

GrampyCollapse )

I’ve already said before that one of the things prompting me to do something for Alzheimer’s research, aside from my own family’s personal experience of it, was Sir Terry Pratchett’s announcement late in 2007 that he had been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease. It’s difficult for me to put into words how huge an impact his writing (particularly the Discworld series) has had on me. Suffice it to say, the Discworld is very much a part of my internal landscape, a haven, even, and its characters are like friends who are just a little bit too far away to drop in on for a cup of tea, but there nonetheless. Doing something for Alzheimer’s research is a way of thanking Sir Terry for doing the work that he loves and is so good at (inspiring in itself for a self-doubty-trousers like me), and thereby (however unintentionally) making a difference to me.

I’d like to dedicate tomorrow’s ride specifically to my Grandpa, to my Mum who took such amazing care of him, and to Sir Terry Pratchett. I will also be riding for everyone who’s affected by Alzheimer’s, patients and carers alike, and for the hope of a treatment.

Somewhat cryptically, I will add here: Louise, this is for you and Sultan too. <3

Thank you everyone for listening, and for your support. I’m off to bed now. See you on the other side of the mountain.

Camilla

_______________________________________________________________

About Lilac to Ventoux

About me

How you can help

Re-posting always appreciated - just click the button below. Thanks!

One more sleep to go ...

Share
most_suspicious
Hi again everyone,

First I’d like to say a horribly belated but nonetheless extremely grateful thank you to the fabulous treemice, and Susan, Dawid, Jessie & Aimee M. for their donations. treemice saved up for ages and made an incredibly generous donation to both the Fisher Research Center and the Alzheimer’s Association USA. This brings the total raised for Alzheimer’s research to £871! Thank you so, so much.

Today’s test ride went pretty well, and I’m so glad I did it. Just from that round trip of 13km or so, I learned that I should cycle the whole way on the smallest ring at the front (much less taxing on the legs); I should find my breathing rhythm and try to stick to it as much as possible; even if I think I can cycle faster/on a harder gear, I shouldn’t succumb to the temptation because the hardest inclines are still ahead; I need to drink enough; I need to monitor my heart rate; and I need to take rest stops.

This all sounds pretty elementary stuff, but I’m not very accustomed to mountain cycling, and also I’m a little more competitive than is good for me sometimes :$

Another thing I noticed because I left later this morning was that the sun, even very early, already has sharp teeth. I got uncomfortably hot very quickly and returned a sweaty mess, surprising for a short ride (relatively) early in the day. I am now thinking I will try to leave between 5 and 6am, so as to maximise the early morning cool air and shade. It would be lovely if I could make it through the woods and some of the lower moonscape before the sun really hits.

Okay, that’s it for me now. I’m going to nip down the hill to post this, and the Glorious 25th of May post, and then it’s off to bed.

Excited, nervous, looking forward.

Thanks for listening!

Camilla

_______________________________________________________________

About Lilac to Ventoux

About me

How you can help

Re-posting always appreciated - just click the button below. Thanks!

May 23rd, 2011

After driving all last night, we’re installed in Bédoin, at the foot of Mont Ventoux. We have a wee housie thing which looks out over the camping place from the front and *gulp* looks towards Ventoux at the back.

It’s huge (the mountain, not the house). OMG. Nothing can prepare you for it. It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve seen it on telly, or in photos, you don’t have a clue how immense it is until you’re standing somewhere down at the bottom, looking up and going, ‘Argh.’

As is Family Tradition (i.e. the tradition established at Alpe d’Huez last year :P ), we went up the mountain in the car for a reconnaissance mission this afternoon. It’s a way of staring the enemy in the whites of their eyes getting an idea of what the ride’s going to be like (the other way being to ride the first little bit of the route the day before The Big Ride, to get a feel for it).

I can only describe the recce as hair raising. I’ve tried to write this paragraph three times and have deleted it three times, and all I can think of to say is: There’s only one way for me to approach this climb, and that’s with respect and patience. There is no doubt that it’s going to be long, arduous and a massive test, both physical and mental. To be blunt, it scares the living daylights out of me. It feels like nothing I could have done would have prepared me adequately for the reality of this mountain.

I’m going to stop here before I go so overboard with terror that I talk myself out of it (just kidding of course, no way am I going to duck out of it now, not after all the preparation, and certainly not after all the support people have given me).

ETA: Due to circumstances out of our control, it looks like I’m going to be riding up Ventoux alone. I’d really appreciate some good thoughts from about 6am-ish Wednesday (GMT+2?) onwards. This is going to be tougher than I’d ever imagined.

Thanks for listening!

Camilla


ps apologies for not replying to things quickly. Wifi is only available down the hill at the camping ground's social area, so I don't get to check my email much.


_______________________________________________________________

About Lilac to Ventoux

About me

How you can help

Re-posting always appreciated - just click the button below. Thanks!

May 18th, 2011

One week to go *wibble*

Share
most_suspicious
As always, thanks first, this week to Alaina G, my Aunt Fiona and Uncle Jeremy, and Noortje vdB. Thank you all very much for your donations! The total raised for Alzheimer's research is now £415, which thrills me no end. Thank you, thank you, thank you all. I am planning to write the names of all the donors on a piece of paper which I shall tape to my crossbar (just as I do with route numbers). That way, when the going gets tough and I've got my head down, I'll see you all there and feel inspired again. :)

Arni and I had a good, if tough, ride last Saturday. We arrived in Valkenburg and parked at the top of the Cauberg (where the finish line for the Amstel Gold Race is), and set off at about 9:30 or so. It was *damn* cold up there, and I was not dressed for a cold day (shorts instead of long pants, no arm warmers and no insulation vest). It was windy and grey, and as we made our way around it got windier and greyer, and we were worried that we would get rained on. That didn't happen, luckily.

We did 74km over hilly terrain, trying to follow the no. 3 Amstel Gold route. We got lost again. The signs are really small, and they're spaced out really widely and sometimes they don't even exist at places where you really need them (i.e. four way intersections), so we wandered off towards the German border and then realised something was wrong and turned back. In the end we gave up on the no. 3 route and found our way back to Valkenburg using the fietsroutenetwork signs, which were marginally better.

I started out pretty well on the ride. I got up hills all right, just riding at a good pace and breathing calmly and keeping an eye on my heart rate (was wearing my new heart rate monitor for the first time). At about the 50km point though, it started to get both physically and psychologically hard. Losing the way had cost us some time, and we were worried about getting home for Emrys, and the cold and wind had taken their toll so we were pretty tired. By the time we reached the Kruisberg, I was pretty whacked. I made it up to the top, but I was completely exhausted by the climb, and by the time we reached the bottom of the Eyserbosweg, my legs were shaking. I gave it a shot though, and I got higher than I did the last time - within about 20 or 30m of the place where the road begins to flatten out again. I was frustrated and angry that I didn't make it (but that was probably also tiredness). Next time. (Next time we will also go from Margraten, so those big-arse climbs are at the start of the ride and not the end :P ).

We skipped the Keutenberg this time. The thought of sitting at the bottom of that hill and looking up it made me want to burst into tears, so we made our way back to Valkenburg, and I took my frustration out on the Cauberg instead and did a pretty respectable finish, if I do say so myself.

So, as I said: a good ride, but a hard one. And I am doing my best not to think about the fact that Ventoux is all uphill, all 23km of it, with little or no respite.

I am still excited though. And I am really pleased to be able to turn a personal challenge into something that helps Alzheimer's research. That means a lot to me, and I'm really grateful for everyone's support.

Thanks for listening!

Camilla

_______________________________________________________________

About Lilac to Ventoux

About me

How you can help

Re-posting always appreciated - just click the button below. Thanks!

May 13th, 2011

Therefore, this is the "OMG two weeks OMG 12 days to go!!" post.

Yes. 12 days. Can't believe it's so close now, after months of planning and training.

Right, first things first: I have a whole bunch of thank yous to do, namely to Susan B (my dear bestie *hugs* ), Danielle W, Herman Klukkert and the Rabobank VG team, Ashleigh C (one of my lovely cousins *hugs*), and my Mum and Dad (*hugs hugs*). Thank you so much, all of you! Your donations have pushed the total up to £365 for Alzheimer's research. :D

In other news, I am a little disgruntled with the bike shop, who somehow managed to adjust my gears so they change all by themselves (or not at all), and who put my rear wheel back on so loosely that it fell out in Arni's hand when he loosened the lever preparatory to putting the bike in the car. Given that I'd already ridden about 120km over the previous three days, I wasn't very happy about this discovery! It seems to be okay now, though.

In training news, Arni and I are off to do some hills again tomorrow. We are heading back to Margraten to do the same loop we did last time, taking in the six hills, and I'm hoping to do better this time with my adjusted gears. On a sober note, during this ride we will be taking part in Black Armband Saturday, a world-wide event in memory of fallen cyclists, and in particular, Wouter Weylandt and Shamus Liptrot. Wouter Weylandt, a 26 year old Belgian cyclist riding for Leopard-Trek, died on Monday, during the third stage of the Giro d'Italia, as a result of a terrible fall during a descent. Shamus Liptrot, a 19 year old Australian cyclist passed away unexpectedly the next day. He'd sustained serious injuries from a fall during a race a couple of years ago, and had been recovering really well, but it seems his injuries overcame him in the end. We will be holding these two young men and their loved ones and team mates in our thoughts tomorrow.

Now that we are really on the countdown, we will be starting to assemble all the things for the journey. I am already making a list. At the top of the list are our 'Wear the Lilac' pins (thank you, auronsgirl!), which we will attach to our jerseys for the ride (I'm thinking I might wear mine on my arm). I'm also looking forward to receiving my lilac pendant (also made by auronsgirl). If I can find a way to safely wear that up Ventoux, I will.

I think that's everything for now. I'm sure I had more to say (I usually do :P ) but it's late and we've an early start tomorrow morning, so I'll stop here.

Thanks for listening!

Camilla

_______________________________________________________________

About Lilac to Ventoux

About me

How you can help

Re-posting always appreciated - just click the button below. Thanks!

May 4th, 2011

Three weeks to go!

Share
most_suspicious
Oh good lord, this is coming up rather fast, isn't it??

Right. Onwards.

Firstly, huge thanks to Tracy L for her very generous donation. Much appreciated!

For anyone else who might be considering donating, sooner is better if you'd like to see me ride up Ventoux with lilac locks! As mentioned in the previous post, if I reach a total of £500 in donations (online and offline) before 13 May, I'll colour my hair purple for the ride. It should clash marvellously with my freckles and sunburnt cheeks. :D At the moment the total stands at £150 or so (approximate, due to different currencies being involved).

Today I took Vimes to the bike shop for a service and to get the gears adjusted, brakes checked, and a small kink taken out of the front wheel. Everything seems to be in order (took a short spin around the carpark to try it out) and I'm hoping to go for a longer ride this evening to see how it feels. The most important thing is that the lowest gears work, so I can keep cycling on Ventoux, even if it's at barely above walking pace.

We are hoping to head back to Margraten this weekend to re-do the last bit of the Amstel Gold route and rack up some more hill kilometres. I'm very curious about how I'll do on the hills I didn't manage last time, now that my gears have been sorted. Including The Infamous Keutenberg! I am going to give that one my best shot, for sure. It'd be a real feather in my cap if I could make it this time, but I'd be happy even just to get further up it than I did last time!

And finally, we are still trying to sort out our accommodation, but the proprietors of the place we want to stay at have neither answered their phone nor replied to our email. Yikes?

More news as and when.

Thanks for listening!

Camilla

_______________________________________________________________

About Lilac to Ventoux

About me

How you can help

Re-posting always appreciated - just click the button below. Thanks!

April 30th, 2011

Lilac locks for Alzheimer's

Share
most_suspicious
Good morning, everyone! It's a lovely day here in Belgium, and just now I'll be off for a ride with the Powerbikers. :D

But first, I wanted to thank Claudia K for her donation - much appreciated!

Secondly, I've decided to up the ante somewhat. If I receive £500 in donations for Alzheimer's research by 13 May, I will be riding up Mt Ventoux with PURPLE HAIR. Donations can be made either at the JustGiving page, or to an Alzheimer's charity of your choice. If you choose the latter option, please drop me a line to let me know to whom you made the donation, and how much (and in what currency) so I can keep tabs on the total. I'll post regular updates as and when.

Come on people, help me look ridiculous stunningly gorgeous for a good cause! :D

Thanks for listening!

Camilla

_______________________________________________________________

About Lilac to Ventoux

About me

How you can help

Re-posting always appreciated - just click the button below. Thanks!

Powered by LiveJournal.com