Mad Hatters - Chris’s Epic Cycle Challenge Across The Alps

Chris Allan, PPE’s oil & gas product manager has long been a keen cyclist.

Having completed a number of local challenges for charity such as ‘The Way of the Roses’ and ‘Leeds-Liverpool Canal’, Chris decided to take part in the ultimate challenge; 580 miles of riding (with 65,144ft of uphill climbing) across the French Alps, including some of the toughest stages of the Tour de France. The event was organised to raise funds for two local charities, Rosemere Cancer Foundation and Blackburn Youth Zone. Both charities provide vital support to the local community around the area where PPE is located.

After 15 months of training, countless early mornings and many hours in the saddle, Chris arrived in Geneva, Switzerland on the 1st Sept and spent the next seven days pedalling his way to Nimes, France.

Throughout the challenge Chris was tested to the limits of his endurance from the cold, wintery downpours on day 2 (4°C) to the scorching heat of days 4 and 5 (34°C). Chris often ran out of water and had to resort to filling his bottle up in streams and waterfalls. Additional obstacles included a collapsed tunnel through the mountain on day 4 which required a detour. Sunburn and strains also made the challenge that much more difficult.

Averaging 70+ miles a day, Chris’s toughest day was day 6 when he faced the mighty Mont Venteoux (1,912m). The mountain is infamous among cycling fans as the place where British world cycling champion Tom Simpson died in 1967 while competing in the Tour de France, a monument to Tom is located near the top.

Having successfully completed the whole route Chris expects to raise around £3000 from sponsorship, which will be split between the two charities.

Chris commented “Throughout the route the scenery was stunning and the views breath taking. This was the toughest ride I’ve ever done, an emotional rollercoaster with extreme highs and lows.” He adds “Some days were absolutely brutal and it proved to be far more challenging than I’d anticipated!”

Donations can still be made online at:

Published in Valve User Magazine Issue 43

Winter 2018 // Issue 47
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