Why ride the Cent Cols Challenge?
Held in the French Alps, the French Pyrenees, Corsica and in Cantabrico, the Cent Cols Challenges all average roughly 200kms daily, with 4,500metres of climbing, over ten stages. One rest day gives riders a respite half-way through. The fully arrowed routes take in many iconic climbs, but often lead riders up seldom-ridden roads, adding a strong sense of discovery to these unique journeys.
In former CCC riders’ own words, these events are “intoxicating”, “life-changing” and “totally addictive”. Many riders who question their sanity on the first days find themselves debating with fellow riders, later in the event, which one they will ride together the following year.
As Phil Deeker, the organiser who also rides the events says:
“To endure the merciless demands of the mountains and yet be touched by their sheer beauty, day after day and for most of the daylight hours on offer, is a pretty fail-safe way to find the true secrets of our sport. To complete it is a worthy achievement, even in the eyes of many pro riders who have now heard about the events.”
Despite the emphasis being placed on ‘taking part’ rather than ‘winning’, in order to kindle the inner competitive flame, two climbs per stage are timed (using www.Strava.com) for those wishing to take part in the CCC KoM competition. As well as adding a competitive moment to the stages, this idea is also designed to reduce the temptation to race downhill- in an event like this, literally hours are spent descending and Phil emphatically warns participants about the inherent dangers that go with the ‘climbers’ reward’.
“To enter one of these events is a brave step, but many have proved that you do not need to be part of some kind of amateur elite to succeed in them. These events let riders off the leash of their everyday responsibilities in their ‘normal lives’, but when descending they do have to be reminded of those who depend on and love them!”
Places are limited to 34 riders in order to ensure a close, personal atmosphere within the group and also to ensure a well-supported and safe event. In 2009, the first CCC was held in the French Alps. In 2015, five events are planned and, as Phil tells us, if the pre-sales interest is anything to go by, places will sell faster than ever this year.