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
John has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.
He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.
Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc founder Tony Farelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.
John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.
He joined road.cc in 2013. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.