Three cyclists who last month set off to tackle every ascent in Simon Warren’s 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs book have completed their challenge.
It took Dominic Millar, Graham Salisbury and James Findlater a month to tick off all 100 climbs, riding almost 5,300 kilometres around the country and climbing the equivalent of nine times the height of Mount Everest.
The trio, who are all members of Cycling UK, were raising money for charities including LandAid, Coram, Cancer Research and Alzheimer’s Research UK.
Their 100 Climbs Challenge saw them joined by cyclists from across the country for parts of their journey – including Warren himself, who had given the challenge his support.
Millar, aged 49, said: “It was the toughest thing I’ve ever done without a shadow of a doubt. I think it’s probably changed us all a little bit.
“We’ve been up the hardest climbs in the country, which is physically demanding, and there was all the doubt whether we could actually do it.
“The highlight was the British countryside which is just stunning. We went through glens in Scotland where we were cycling through rainbows. It was almost a spiritual experience.
“But there were times when it also got quite dangerous. We were on busy A-roads in Scotland where there was holiday traffic and you couldn’t see anything through your glasses because the rain was lashing down – and that wasn’t comfortable at all.
“But we had a hundred people join us on the road. Some joined us for an afternoon, some joined us for eight days and they’ve all been so supportive, and I’d like to thank those people. Hopefully we’ve inspired them to go on and do their own challenge.”
Salisbury, also aged 49, said: “I genuinely didn’t know if we’d be able to do it. I booked all the hotels and I booked them all cancellable just because I wasn’t sure!
“There were definitely tough, tough days, some grim times and times when we didn’t want to be riding but getting to the end it feels great.
“The highlights were the natural beauty, like cycling through the middle of Wales, up the Devil’s Staircase where there was just a stunning light. And then up in the Yorkshire Dales – that was fantastic.
“And it was the people who joined us and the stories they had to tell about why they cycled and what they were doing cycling. People joined us for a day and it was perhaps the longest they’d ever cycled, and that made it really special,” he added.
“Probably the bleakest moment was cycling to Dornie which is on the west coast of Scotland and we had horrendous weather, and we had traffic thundering past us, it was a 200km day, you couldn’t really see much and the rain hurt and we were frozen.”
Findlater, aged 40, commented: “It’s been eventful, it’s been stressful, it’s had deep, dark moments but also really enlightening, a special way to look at the countryside.
“We only got four or five days without rain but luckily some of those days were the Yorkshire Dales which were absolutely astonishingly pretty.
“The way Simon has graded the climbs in the book is absolutely appropriate,” he continued. “They’re not just graded on their difficult but on their impact. So when you get all the way up to north west Scotland and you climb Bealach-na-Ba it’s actually dominated by a thick cloud cover at the top but it opens up almost like a volcanic bowl, and if you’re super pacy it’s a good 35 minute climb.”
He added: “I love my bike. I’m definitely going to be back on it but I’m going to take some sensible rest first but I’m looking forward to going for a nice pootle around my home roads.”
So far, the three riders have raised more than £45,000 for their nominated charities through their BT My Donate page.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.