95. The Wall, Forest Row
96. Ditchling Beacon, Ditchling
97. Steyning Bostal, Steyning
98. Leith Hill, Dorking
99. White Downs, Dorking
100. Box Hill, Dorking
6 climbs only but this was where we were reaping the benefits of the aggressive schedule of Days 9 and 10. If I was in with a chance of making the 13 days, I didn't want to be chasing 10-12 on the last day, no 10pm finish.
Despite knowing these remaining short climbs I was probably more nervous than at any time since Day 1 - hoping there were no last minute surprises to prevent me getting over the line.
Physically, I was resigned to having the one paced grind I'd come to know so well although I was sure that would be perfectly adequate for what were some of the 'easiest' climbs of the 100 - especially when you're not racing up them, flat out.
I haven't mentioned this previously but since the cardiac episode on the Horseshoe Pass on Day 4, I became fixated with checking my heart rate was where it should be (which it was) - both on and off the bike but particularly on the climbs. Throughout this day, it became an obsession as we counted down the climbs and I don't think this was helpful in my efforts to stay 'tranquilo'!
With original 'Directeur Sportif', Helen CW, back on board we drove to the first climb, The Wall. Started it in bright sunshine, finished 7 minutes later in cold, driving rain!
Headed over to Ditchling Beacon and better weather emerged as the showers moved away. Halfway up the climb, a lunatic in a Vauxhall Nova cut across me on on of the hairpins and brushed my knuckles as they accelerated away. Very lucky to stay upright but the resulting adrenaline rush wasn't helpful.
Steyning Bostal next. All good, then a break to regroup for the final 3.
Leith Hill didn't go well. Despite going at a very steady pace, the legs were weak and the heart rate a little higher than I wanted it to be for the relatively low effort I was able to squeeze out. I kept telling myself all the sound physiological reasons why this wasn't an issue and purely an anxiety thing but my head wouldn't settle. Some friends came to cheer and this was a helpful distraction as we headed over to White Downs.
This was a strange one - White Downs is quite a tough climb in places and I was expecting to dig a bit deeper but I just didn't need to. Before I knew it, I was at the top and could barely remember anything about the preceding 7-8 minutes.
So one to go but not before one last little obstacle...Helen was nowhere to be seen in the Mazda Support Car. This was unusual - she'd normally either leap frog me on the longer climbs or go straight to the top on the shorter ones. 10 minutes went by - no Helen. Eventually a car pulled over to me to give me the message that she'd got stuck in mud. You couldn't make it up, with 1 climb to go, the brilliant, 'never missed a beat' support car had got beached!
I rode down to the base to find a chaotic scene of backed up traffic, a 4x4 hooking up a towrope to the Mazda 6, dogs barking everywhere and everyone tip-toeing around in the mud. I probably cut a less than helpful figure as I calmly leant against my bike, took out my phone and casually tweeted that we might be delayed a little...well, how much use was I going to be, duck walking around in a pair of cycling shoes?!
If the time schedule had been a big issue I could easily have ridden over to Box Hill from there but it just wouldn't have been right to finish without Helen (and the Mazda) being there. Eventually the car was pulled out with no damage and we got on our way. Huge thanks to Jason Lee and his lovely family for helping us get the car out with the assistance of friends Lisa Coaley (and Peter) and Jo Lambert...all ably led by chief car extractor, Helen CW!
We arrived at the base of Box Hill at 5.50pm. Just enough time for a wipe down and smarten up of the Scott Foil. This fantastic bike with it's super stiff frame got me up every climb and did everything I asked of it and more. When a piece of equipment does it job so well you can almost forget how good it is but the Scott Foil was an absolute star.
I had hoped I'd be be able to collect my thoughts as I rode up the super smooth Box Hill but there were so many memories firing in and out of my head, it was impossible. I slowed down even more to try and take it all in but the whole experience (especially with friends waving on the hill and Helen blaring the horn round every hairpin!) was just too intoxicating to stay focused.
I rounded the last corner at 6.07pm to be welcomed by a fantastic cheer from friends, family and supporters who'd kept me going throughout the whole challenge and it's various ups and downs. Literally. Thanks to everyone for a great finish!
100 Climbs in 13 Days!!
I have a big list of wonderful people to thank which I'll post very soon along my top 5 'worst' climbs - a question a surprising amount of people seem to want to know!
Over the top of The Wall
Top of Steyning Bostal