Yorkshire based Ultra6 race team have created three new cycling world records on a famous Tour De France mountain in the Provence region of France whilst raising funds for ABF The Soldiers Charity and M4Melanoma.
The World Record attempt was to be the first to cycle 100,000ft vertical ascent and descent on one continuous mountain climb, the mountain selected was the famous and mighty Mont Ventoux. The most anyone has achieved prior to this was 65,000ft, with a few people also attempting to do an Everest at 31,000ft.
It took just 4 days 16 hours and 14 minutes for three of the team to complete 19.35 ascents and descents of Mont Venoux with a total height gain of 100,000ft, at the same time the team also set a record for the fastest 100,000ft and also the highest as a team of five at 77,519ft each giving a total of 387,595ft. Providing three world records in total.
The team of Andy North and Nicky Jovanovic from Guiseley, Ben Wood, Jimmy Welsh and Matt Robinson from Keighley have been planning and training for this extreme challenge for the past 12 months. “We had to train through the winter months on our local Yorkshire hills to ensure we had the best opportunity for success, you know if you can survive the harsh conditions whist out on a Yorkshire training ride then you can survive anything the French weather can throw at you” said Andy North or this is what we thought until arriving in France and faced with 40C and sunshine every day, this posed a real problem during the first couple of days as the team adjusted themselves with ice packs and lots of water to cool their core temperature.
The team were provided with the latest Spanish Orbea bikes by Allterrain Cycle in Shipley and Wetherby whose Ultra6 race team leader Ben Wood works as head mechanic, the Orbea bikes are the latest light weight production bikes and are currently being used on the Tour De France by team Cofidis. The team kit was then produced by Endura to match the colour scheme on the bikes. Ben Wood said “We knew that we needed to have the best and the lightest equipment for this challenge and are really grateful for all the support we have received from our sponsors and supporters.”
Two of the team Andy North and Ben Wood are no stranger to extreme challenges previously setting a world record for running a marathon and cycling 100 miles each day for seven days, Lands End To John O’Groats and also completing the famous Sunshine Challenge from Catterick Garrison to Gibraltar that included kayaking the Thames and English Channel. Last year they were also involved with the Lord Mayor's cycle around Europe and LOFTY appeal, motivating school children from the Leeds area to follow their dreams.
The Race to Space challenge was sponsored by a local successful businessman Dave Gale who helped and supported the team during the build up and on Mont Ventoux throughout the whole challenge. David who lost his son earlier this year wanted the team to succeed in memory of his son Paul Gale.
Prior to the challenge the whole team had regular chiropractic care from Jason O’Connor at Advanced Wellness in Ilkley, “this allowed our nervous systems to be at their optimum and ensure we are physically and mentally at our best, the team were also supported out in France by Iain Harris physio, In addition Ben Wood and Andy North spent time at The Sports Science department at Trinity University in Horsforth that provided metabolic testing, endurance testing and sports psychology, this all helped to achieve the success on the mountain.
During the race to space challenge most of the team spent a minimum of 12 hours in the saddle cycling up and down Mont Ventoux four times each day, with an average gradient of 7.5% and in the middle 6 mile forest section having long straight roads of over 13%. All in all this was also a total of over 100 miles cycled each day for five days.
“This was as much a battle with your mind as it was with the physical challenge, this year we had trained in basic yoga techniques and this helped us to stay calm and focused whilst out on the continuous 13.5 miles steep wall of tarmac that continually faced you. The other big challenge were the swarms of flys that tried to feed off your perspiration, getting into your nose, mouth and ears whilst in the six mile forest section” said Andy North.
Matt Robinson said “it was a nice end to the challenge when the local cycling museum in Bedoin that displays the history of Mont Venoux and the Tour De France got really interested in our record and now want to display our team jersey and showcase the Race to Space.
ABF Donations: justgiving.com/racetospace