The Ride Of A Thousand Cols
Words Phil Deeker Photography Jered & Ashley Gruber
Phil Deeker, founder of the Cent Cols Challenge (CCC), is riding 1,000 mountain passes - or cols - from now until October 2017, in just 100 days of riding.
His route comprises the 10 Rapha Travel Cent Cols Challenges taking place through the summer, across Europe’s challenging mountain ranges. This will be the last year that Phil rides every stage of the CCC, a feat he’s undertaken for the past nine years. In between each of this year’s 10 trips, he will only ‘enjoy’ three or four days of recovery – and they’ll be spent preparing for the next trip.
Back in 2007, to mark his fiftieth birthday Phil set himself the challenge of riding 300 cols in France in the space of 30 days. He did it in 28, raising £10,000 for British charity Access Sport. The CCC concept was born a matter of days later, as Phil realised the power of discovering one’s inner strength by battling the mountains, fuelled by a romantic appreciation of the surroundings.
Over the years, Phil has run several CCC trips in Europe’s greatest mountains, but never as many as ten in one year. In the year that he turns 60, the Briton has decided to celebrate this landmark with another incredible challenge.
“I wanted to go on a very long bike ride in the mountains to mark the end of the ‘first chapter’ of the CCC story.”
“[We] yearn for that sense of freedom that comes from the pure and simple experience of riding one’s bike all day, every day on roads that were seemingly made and waiting for adventurous cyclists such as ourselves.”
“I still consider myself an amateur rider, passionate about my hobby, even though it has become my profession. I was never interested in racing or results. Personal achievements, yes, but only in relation to myself, not others, even though I admit that temporarily competing with others on a climb will often be part of this personal challenge.”
“It is not a competition. It is not a race. I wanted to create an event that would be hard enough to just finish, without having to be raced. One that looked impossible on paper, but in fact, with sufficient fitness and experience, and above all, with enough inner determination, could be completed.”
Join Rapha Travel this summer
Inspired by Phil’s story? Compelled to tackle 100 cols in just 10 days? There’s still time to join Phil on the ride. With spaces still available on our Cent Cols Challenge Vosges-Jura from 1st to the 13th of July, and the Cevennes-Ardeche on 12th to the 24th of August.