This summer, Jonah Marks (8BR) continued his attempt to run, swim and cycle 1000km in a year, by cycling up a stage of the Tour de France. While on holiday in Morzine in the French Alps, not far from Mont Blanc, he took a day off from mountain biking to tackle Col D’Avoriaz with his dad. The weather in the Alps had been very variable in August, with thunderstorms coming along the valley almost every afternoon, so they would need to get to the top of the mountain and back again as quickly as possible, or potentially have to find shelter. In addition, Jonah didn’t have his cycling shoes with him and so would be riding in trainers (cycling shoes allow the rider to clip into the pedal and cycle more efficiently).
The route isn’t particularly long, but it is quite steep, ranging from a 5% incline towards the bottom and top, to 8-10% along the middle, combined with 20 hairpin bends to navigate. It has featured in several Tour de France races, and on several occasions has been an opportunity for the very best elite riders to break away from the pack. Jonah had already tackled some big hills in the Peak District prior to going to BA Machane a few weeks earlier and was confident he could make it to the top.
They set a slow but steady pace, with only a couple of stops along the way to catch their breath, admire the view, and refill their water bottles from road-side water fountains. Jonah was able to hang on just behind his Dad all the way up, and saved his energy for the last kilometre when he put on a burst of speed and reached the summit first!
Soon after they returned back down again – which while it was a lot easier on the legs, was pretty scary. The road was so steep, that even while braking most of the way down, they were going 30-40 kph!
To celebrate his achievement, Jonah received a small replica of the French KM marker.
All of this has been to raise money for World Bicycle Relief as part of Jonah’s Bar Mitzvah chesed project. Every £90 donated provides a custom-built bike for a schoolgirl in Africa, to ensure that they can make the journey to and from school. You can find out more here: https://fundraiseuk.worldbicyclerelief.org/jonahm_tri. Since February he has cycled 812km, run 87km and swum 12km.