ONE HUNDRED CLIMBS

A 62-year old man took on the UK’s greatest cycling climbs in just 12 twelve days. Sophie Middleton's been chatting to Richard Burt.

Inspired by cycling champ Sir Bradley Wiggins and sponsored by Sanctuary Care, Richard Burt, who started cycling just four years ago, when Wiggins became the first Brit to win the Tour de France, is hoping to raise £50,000 for Dementia UK, after completing twelve gruelling days of mammoth cycling in August 2016. 

Basing their challenge on Simon Warren’s book, 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs, Richard and his team, including his support rider Mike Pridmore-Wood, travelled day and night for twelve consecutive days, with many involving over thirteen solid hours of cycling and travelling. Richard, himself, eventually achieved 97 of the 100 climbs, with Mike completing all 100 climbs a week later.

Richard said: “Simon Warren’s account of the climbs really inspired me. Before the challenge I was filled with trepidation. I’ve done some tough endurance challenges before and every one of them has been very different so I was conscious that I wouldn’t find out exactly how tough this one was until I did it.”

Igniting his inner love of cycling in 2012, Richard went from being able to endure a wobbly half a mile to riding up to 500km per week the following summer. His previous cycling achievements have ranged from two-minute hill climbs and the 300km classic Milan San Remo cyclosportive in Italy, to racing the Alps in temperatures up to 43 degrees. He also completed the Haute Route Pyrenees and achieved the fastest timed climb for cyclists over the age of 60 last year at three major British sportives.

Richard said: “Before starting the challenge I was most looking forward to twelve days’ exploration of the greatest, iconic, toughest, often remotest hill climbs in Britain. Most people would not get around all of them in their lifetime and here I am, proud to say, I managed to explore them in just twelve days.”

Preparing for the charitable feat was a challenge in itself – Richard worked hard to be fit and ready for such a start-stop challenge, changing his diet and clocking up as many cycling miles as possible.

Training highlights included a 105 mile Tour of Pembrokeshire and the infamous Fred Whitton Challenge course, as well as the three-day Tour of Wessex before focusing on solo hill sessions around Broadway, Malvern and Stroud – constantly repeating until August was upon him and his team.

On Thursday 18 August at 8am sharp, Richard started on Dover’s Hill in Gloucestershire, the cycling team then travelled through Bristol, Devon, Wales, Yorkshire, the North East and Scotland, before travelling down to Surrey via Cumbria, Lancashire, the Midlands and Berkshire.

The incredible journey took Richard to many well-known favourites from Holme Moss in Holmfirth to Bwlch-y-Groes in Wales, before finishing on Box Hill, where the 2012 Olympic Road Race took place.

Commenting on the challenge, Richard said: "Whatever you think you'll need in terms of gearing, take another one, because you are going to have to spin rather than power up a lot of these climbs. Your legs will want to divorce you and your body will be screaming at your lungs to take in more air on the toughest of them. It's also a navigational and logistics challenge to get you to the foot of each climb every day. I would not have finished inside twenty days without the amazing skills and dedication of the support team with me."

“I missed three climbs because of a fall and sheer fatigue but I’m very proud of the team’s efforts, especially my brilliant support rider, Mike Pridmore-Wood, who only missed half a day of the challenge to collect his daughter’s exam results but then returned to the Lake District to complete the missing climbs."

“Each area had its own special character and memories.  From the rain in Wales, the traffic in the West Country and the wind on the first stormy Saturday that stopped us opening the car door at the summit of Bwlch-y-Groes. Then the sunshine on my back as we stormed up Horseshoe Pass in Denbighshire on a perfect day - we had it all in the challenge.”

Continuing on the hills, he said: “The worst hills by far were the unexpected and fearful cobbled climbs, I'd never done one before. They frightened the life out of me. In particular a wet Constitution Hill in Swansea and I was in such a state before tackling Shibden Wall in Yorkshire that I set off in the wrong direction! But the toughest of the climbs were the Yorkshire Dales. There are no soft climbs up there for a bit of a breather. Lincoln was unexpectedly beautiful, albeit cobbles up to the castle gate; and yes, I indulged myself in a last climb of quiet reflection, spinning easily through the bank holiday crowds on Box Hill in Surrey, thinking of a job well done."

Supported by Sanctuary Care, Richard hopes to raise £50,000 for the national dementia charity on behalf of his dear mum Peggy, who has had Alzheimer’s for the past six years and is living with dementia in Sanctuary Care’s Redhill Court Residential Care Home in Kings Norton, Birmingham.

Richard continued: “This challenge is extremely personal for me – it’s all for my mum, who is a wonderful person. When I visit I’m sometimes her dad, sometimes I’m her husband or sometimes I’m her son but it doesn’t matter to me, it’s enough for me to know she loves me and that’s why I’m doing this, for her.”

As a main sponsor, Sanctuary Care – part of Sanctuary Group – made Richard’s cycle-a-thon mission a reality by donating much-needed funds and providing Richard and his team of volunteers with a branded kit. They also encouraged their portfolio of 69 care homes, including Hawthorn Green Residential and Nursing Home in London, where Richard and Simon Warren met during National Bike Week, to raise funds up and down the country. 

Sanctuary Care’s Managing Director Mark McCarthy, who showed his support in person at Dover’s Hill on the first day of the climb, said: “Richard and his team pushed themselves to the absolute limit during their fundraising mission for Dementia UK. He really is an inspiration to everyone at Sanctuary Care and we couldn’t be prouder of him – well done Richard!”

Author Simon Warren, who joined Richard on climb number 26 on Mott Street in Essex, added: “I first met Richard on a miserable wet day in June when we launched his challenge and to be honest I thought he'd slightly under estimated the size of the task ahead. If the weather was to be as grim as it was that day and with little room for maneuverer in a gruelling timetable I hoped he knew what he was getting into.

“However, hooking up with him a couple of months later on Mott Street in Essex, his 83rd climb in eleven days, I was very pleased to find him on schedule, and most importantly looking in very good shape. He’d had some bad days, really struggled on some climbs but the only real evidence of this was the dirt on his bike. It’s one hell of a challenge so congratulations to Richard and I hope he reaches his goal of raising £50,000 for a cause that is likely to affect us all in one way or another.”

Concluding on his tip for anyone looking to face a similar type of challenge, Richard said: “Starting any challenge should be carefully thought out but tackled with confidence. I was once asked where my breakeven point is and I didn’t have a response and that’s just it, the best way to achieve success is to get started and work your way through it – and that’s what I did.”

 

To donate or to find out more on Richard’s journey, visit his www.sanctuary-care.co.uk/100-greatest-cycling-climbs

1     Dover's Hill

2     Weston Hill

3     Cheddar Gorge

4     Crowcombe Combe

5     Dunkery Beacon

6     Porlock

7     Exmoor Forest

8     Challacombe

       Okehampton

9     Rundelstone

10    Dartmeet

11    Widecombe

12    Haytor Vale

13    Salcombe Hill

14    The Tumble

15    LLangynidr Mt

16    Bryn Du

17    Rhigos

18    The Bwlch

19    Constitution Hill

20    Black Mountain

21    Devil’s Staircase

22    Ffordd Penllech

23    Bwlch Y Groes

24    The Road to Hell

25    Moel Arthur

26    Penbarra

27    The Shelf

28    Horseshoe Pass

29    The Burway

30    Jiggers Bank

31    Mow Cop

32    Cat and Fiddle

33    Peaslows

34    Winnats Pass

35    Swiss Hill

36    Holme Moss

37    Jackson Bridge

38    Pea Royd Lane

39    Norwood Edge

40    Greenhow Hill

41    White Horse Bank

42    Boltby Bank

43    Rosedale Chimney

44    Carlton Bank

45    Peth Bank

46    Crawleyside

47    Chapel Fell

48    Hartside Fell

49    Winter’s Gibbet

50    Rest and Be

        Thankful

GL55 6QF

BA1 4DH

BS27 3JJ

TA4 4AA

TA24 8TB

TA24 8QD

EX35 6ES

EX34 7DF

EX20 2QT

PL19 9JF

PL20 6SG

TQ13 7TA

TQ13 9LE

EX10 9AT

NP7 9LJ

NP8 1NL

CF44 7PA

CF44 9UY

CF32 9YN

SA1 6BE

SA19 9TB

LD5 4TR

LL46 2UE

SY20 9AQ

LL16 4SU

LL16 4NB

LL15 1UP

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LL20 8DT

SY6 6AZ

TF8 7DS

ST7 3LS

SK10 1LZ

SK23 0PU

S33 8WD

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S36 2DT

LS21 2RB

HG3 5AR

YO61 4AQ

YO7 2HU

YO18 8SE

TS9 7BB

DH7 0LN

DL13 2PD

DL13 1QD

CA10 1HE

NE19 1AX

PA24 8AN

51    Bealach-Na-Ba

52    Cairn Gorm

53    The Lecht

54    Cairn O'Mount

55    The Cairnwell

56    Mennock Pass

57    Whinlatter Pass

58    Newlands Hause

59    Honister Pass

60    Hardknott Pass

61    Wrynose Pass

62    Kirkstone Pass

63    Lamps Moss

64    Tan Hill

65    The Stang

66    Buttertubs

67    Garsdale Head

68    Fleet Moss

69    Oxnop Scar

70    Park Rash

71    Malham Cove

72    Langcliffe Scar

73    Jubilee Tower

74    Trough of Bowland

75    Cross of Greet

76    Nick O’ Pendle

77    The Rake

78    Halifax Lane

79    Shibden Wall

80    Curbar Edge

81    Monsal Head

82    Rowsley Bar

83    Bank Road

84    Riber

85    Michaelgate

86    Terrace Hill

87    Mott Street

88    Swains Lane

89    Whiteleaf

90    Combe Gibbet

91    Streatley Hill

        Didcot

92    White Lane

93    Toys Hill

94    York’s Hill

95    The Wall

96    Ditching Beacon

97    Steyning Bostal

98    Leith Hill

99    White Downs

100  Box Hill

IV54 8XE

PH22 1QY

AB36 8YP

AB30 1HB

PH10 7QF

DG4 6HT

CA12 5SY

CA13 9UZ

CA13 0RU

CA19 1TH

LA20 6EQ

CA11 0NS

CA17 4JR

DL11 6RT

DL11 6HA

DL11 6DR

LA10 5PP

DL8 3RZ

DL11 6JL

BD23 5RP

BD23 4DQ

BD24 9ND

LA2 9EE

BB7 3BJ

BB7 3AQ

BB7 9HD

BL0 9AE

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LN1 1ET

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IG10 4AP

N6 6QR

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RG17 9QJ

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RH8 0SD

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PUBLISHED JANUARY 2017

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