What’s Your Challenge?

Why do you ride your bicycle and why did you enter a Freedom Challenge race? Ask around and you will probably find as many answers as there are people on the start line. Everyone has a different reason and his or her own personal objectives and challenges.

Win, Podium, Top 10. There are not that many of these riders and when you line up, you generally know if you are going to be able to contend for the win or perhaps a top 3. It is not for everyone and it requires special preparation beyond the normal, ie riding, navigation and perseverance. It requires some insights into the route, the psyche of the race and an understanding of personal limits & boundaries. The challenge for the snakes will be to try and keep up with their predetermined schedules, stay focused and perhaps to push themselves beyond their previous limits.

Testing Yourself. These riders are ambitious but may not be concerned about winning the race. They have personal objectives like riding a double day or an extra half day, maybe a day one push to Centacow or simply to ride a stretch into the night. For others it may be navigation, to simply stay on track and make few navigation errors, perhaps even to try a different route option to a previous ride or an option they saw someone else take a previous year. For others it may be a sub-5 or a sub-4 or simply to get to Rhodes in a par 6 days, racing snakes to themselves. These riders will come to the race with their own ambitions and riding schedules and may finish mid-pack or at the back, but will still have their personal challenges and will finish proudly like winners.

Enjoy the Trail. There are a fortunate few who have the ability to ride within themselves, reach a support station with something left in the tank and do so well before dark. Over the years there have been a few of these, notably one group called the “Wyntrein”. These groups may ride one day at a time and focus on the social and surrounding elements the trail and the journey has to offer.

Everyone on the trail is there to test themselves against the trail, the weather, the navigation and against one another. It’s woven into the DNA of the trail. There’s a reason its called the Freedom Challenge. Whatever your reason to line up at the start line and whatever challenge you have set yourself, embrace the opportunity, give it your best shot and become your own hero.


Today 25 July 2015 the Tour de France goes up the legendary Alpe d’Huez, 13.8km, 1100m ascent to the top. The 21 hairpins are numbered in reverse and each one has a plaque of a previous Alp d’Huez winner on the corner.

In 2006 I had the privilege of riding up Alp d’Huez to see Frank Schleck take the win in a sprint from Damiano Cunego. I wore my special T-Mobile shirt Anya Gous), rode my red 26″ Specialized Epic up the climb and positioned myself at the T-Mobile corner (#2). It was the year that Floyd Landis broke my heart. Since my childhood I had dreamed of riding up Alp d’Huez and to this day I can still see the sights and hear the sounds when I close my eyes.

I will never forget this day.