Matt Richardson is our new favourite person in the whole world. The 47-year-old solicitor from Henley-on-Thames is riding up Mont Ventoux today — on an unmodifed 1970s Raleigh Chopper Mk 2. Chapeau!
As well as the fame, and adulation of cycling websites, Richardson’s toiling up the notoriously hard 22km, 1,617m climb to raise money for cancer charity Leuka.
It’s a cause that’s close to home for Richardson, who lost his father to cancer 15 years ago. Last night, he wrote on his blog: “He was 55. I'm still angry he was taken so young. I'll be using that tomorrow. I hope the money I'm raising can play at least a small part in reducing the number of people that have to go through what my family is still enduring.”
Matt Richardson and his original-spec Chopper (©Matt Richardson)
The Chopper he’s riding is in original trim, including the gearing. Last night, that was giving Richardson a few worries.
He wrote: “The Chopper's easiest gear is not easy enough to allow much cadence in the forested section of the mountain where the steeper gradient is relentless. This means that more demands are made on the muscles and they are more likely to succumb to seizure, particularly after a long period of stress. I don't want to let everyone down. If I fail it'll be because either the bike or me is broken. I feel that if I can get on to the open ground above the tree line where the gradient settles a bit, I've a good chance of success.”
At least he isn’t having to battle the worst of the winds for which Ventoux is famous. The forecast is for 30km/h breezes; rather less severe than the 300km/h monsters that often close the road over the summit in winter.
Nevertheless, Ventoux is never easy. As well as its sheer length and
8.9 percent grade over the last 16km, the naked slopes of the upper mountain mean rider is exposed to the elements whatever they are.
So far, Richardson has raised around £1,600. “I can scarcely believe how generous everyone is being,” he said. “The fundraising page shows over £1,500 including gift aid has been raised thus far and more is promised. I've also received so many thoughtful messages of support. I want to thank everyone.”
To add your donation to the pot, go to his page on Just Giving
Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.
Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.
Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.
The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.