drop onto the wall for aphoto as the sun begins to set, Ihug the cold stone and contemplate getting off this god-forsaken rock on my bike. Turning myself inside out more times than was necessary for such futility to achieve avictorious three summits. It’s been afeat of courage and determination that Iknow fitter and better cyclists have failed to achieve.

Salute to the Simpson Memorial.

descended through aportal, the harsh trial of the last 6hours have been replaced with perfect roads in an idyllic countryside patched with fields of lavender.

After stamping my card, Ifill my bottle with water from the bar,and climb aboard my bike for one more climb. I get my legs spinning and start the climb lined with lavender.The ascent from Sault is the easiest of the three ascents, with alonger ride and less elevation. The sting in the tail is that Istill need to climb the last 6km from Chalet Reynard to the summit, albeit Iarrive in amuch better condition than if Ihad just slogged up from Bédoin. To my left, Provence

stretches out below until it meets the Mediterranean Sea. Nothing stands between here and North Africa. Nothing stands between me and finishing.

The final 6km are exactly the same as the Bédoin route but seem effortless as the sun begins to cool. Ifeel stronger and begin to attack the climb. Every stroke of the pedal more powerful than the last, using the momentum of my body rocking side to side, Ipush through the aches and pains nipping at my legs, and the mast looms closer against the vivid blue skies and the lunar landscape of the upper slopes. Ahelping tailwind accelerates the final push. Collapsing on my bars I

The fall into Malaucène is fast and exciting, lacing between those formerly oppressive trees and rocks, any release on the brake levers leads to aterminal velocity free-fall. Glugging acool French local beer from the hotel, Iremove my prized procession from my jersey pocket –acompleted Club des Cinglés stamp card. Youhave to be crazy to think this is normal behaviour.Onany given day at the summit you might find triumphant cyclists with grins as wide as their faces or shivering wrecks who’ll vow never to come back again. I’ll be back.

Michael is the RAF Triathlon Training and Development Manager and he is also Coach for the Eastern Region Development Triathlon Squad.

Interested? To get into any form of cycling visit the RAF Cycling Website at or contact your unit representative.

Spring 2017

Envoy 17

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