Robert Holden

Boris vs. Ventoux 24-hr Biking Challenge

Fundraising for Macmillan Cancer Support
raised of £2,000 target
Macmillan Cancer Support

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We will do whatever it takes to help you live life as fully as you can


Incredibly it is 10 years since two friends and I embarked on this journey on what was a rather spur of the moment decision for a daft fundraising challenge.  Since then, we've added 3 more hairbrained events, each one seemingly dafter than the last. We hope it has brought a smile to your face and lots of cash for some great causes, close to our hearts.  Thank you. 

Original text:  WOW!!!  We are genuinely overwhelmed and humbled by the response.  I personally want to thank every one of you for your support and generosity.  Brilliant!  Rob.

Please see the completed Boris vs Ventoux film at .

Here's the story..... We set off a shade before 4.00 AM on Saturday morning, raced down to Bédoin, the village at the base of Mont Ventoux, arriving on plan just before 4.00 PM local time, despite getting ahead of schedule then losing time around Lyon due to traffic and a wrong turn.  After jumping on the super heavy Boris Bike in 25deg heat....yes heat, I rode up Ventoux with no stops in 2hrs 55mins.... sheer pain for much of it but ably supported by my two friends Matt and Ian.... drivers, ace cameramen and source of much motivation.   After reaching the summit (6,273 feet), we threw the bike (sorry Boris, carefully placed the trusty steed) back in the van, raced back through France in storms and crazy weather, making Le Tunnel check-in by 2 minutes, and docking the bike back in London at 3.58 AM on Sunday morning, 22 seconds before the 24-hr deadline and avoiding a £100 fine... Phew! It couldn't have been any closer. We treated ourselves to a full English breakfast breakfast at the aptly named "Vingt Quatre" 24-hr diner in Fulham... which was by then full of Halloween-costumed revellers post parties. A slightly bizarre scene.

The ride itself was very hard. Massively over-geared for the relentlessly steep section of the climb, from 5 to 14km, by Chalet Reynard (at 15km) my whole body was in pain but I managed to fight on to the summit.   With essentially 1 gear the whole way up, it was a struggle just keeping the pedals turning and there was a fair bit of cramping and weaving at the top.  Having said all that, the weather was perfect, the mountain was awe inspiring (especially passing Tommy Simpson's memorial) and I reached the summit at sunset, a breathless sky and only a slightly bemused looking Dutch campervan family for company... perfect!


Thank you also to our supporters: Airspace Media, WordComm Graphic Design, SamuelSnow Creative Video Production, HRH Geology, Tri Kudu on-line triathlon store and Café du Cycliste cycling apparel.


Hope you enjoy the video.....


Thank you. Rob.


This challenge is part of a fundraising campaign through my (now past) employer HRH Geology ... who have supported Macmillan for several years.


Why Macmillan?  My dad, Brian, was diagnosed with cancer in 2011. It was a shock; nothing like that had ever happened to our family and it suddenly made cancer a frightening reality.  Fortunately, Brian responded well to surgery and came through it all [update: Brian passed away peacefully 4 years ago at 85 years old] but for many others the nightmare continues.  


We need your support to raise momney for Macmillan Cancer Support.  Whether it's £100, £20 or £1.....every little will help. The important thing is to give something.


If you don't know Mont Ventoux, it has a daunting history.  The British Tour de France cyclist Tommy Simpson died of exhaustion just before the summit in 1967; the great Eddie Merckx needed oxygen after winning atop Ventoux in 1970, and in 2013 Britain's Chris Froome took a famous victory on the climb on his way to winning the Tour de France (see photos)...not to mention the more recent drama of Chris Froome running up for several hundred yards after tangling with over-exuberant fans and a TV motorcycle!!  Drama follows this mountain around.  It's long, steep and exposed to brutal winds and generally cold at this time of year.


Is it doable to ride a 50lb Boris bike up the steep slopes of the infamous Mont Ventoux? I hope so but it's never been done before.  Is it doable to drive there and back within 1 day? Yes, maybe, possibly....legally...hmmm. But together with our team (friends and cameramen, Matt Winstone and Ian Laurie), we shall give it a go on Saturday 26th October, 2013, starting at 4.00 AM from the Bricklayers Arms, Borough docking station, southern end of Great Dover Street....join us at the start if you like!

About the charity

Macmillan Cancer Support

Verified by JustGiving

RCN 261017
At Macmillan, we will move mountains to help people with cancer live life as fully as they can. We’re doing whatever it takes. But without your help we can’t support everyone who needs us. To donate, volunteer, raise money or campaign with us, call 0300 1000 200 or visit

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