He did it! This past Sunday Chris Christian completed the most difficult stage of Tour de Mercy: the ascent of Mont Ventoux, a climb made famous in modern times by elite Tour de France cyclists. Also called the “Beast of Provence,” Mt. Ventoux gradients average from 3.9 percent to 8.9 percent with frequent strong winds, called mistral, at the summit.
Calling it his Ventoux Stage, Chris says this conquest was for all cancer patients – survivors, including his father, as well as those who have died.
The day before I capped Mt. Ventoux, I rode into Banon, France, from Gap. I was a little off course, and it cost me 24 extra kilometres (which weren’t that bad), for a total of 176 on Saturday. The ride was not all that exciting. My bike was pointed in a downward angle as if I were descending, but I still had to pedal as if I were climbing. I’m still trying to process what that was all about.
First thing on Sunday morning, with a stripped-down bike, I departed from Sault. It took me two hours 10 minutes to ascend and only 21 minutes to descend back to Sault. While I was at the summit, I took photos several photos and purchased a momento of my accomplishment: cycling gear which I’m told can only be purchased at the Ventoux summit.
(Above) Behind Chris is the memorial to British cyclist Tom Simpson who died on Mt. Ventoux during the 1967 Tour de France. (Below) This weather station – no longer in use – was built on the north side of the summit in the late 1800s.
A momento of Chris’s momentous climb to the top of Mt. Ventoux:
Chocolate and Marmelade: Sustenance for a Cycling Champ
Wondering where Chris gets all his energy? Every 2-1/2 hours, he drinks two litres of water and eats chocolate with orange marmalade. In a word, he says it’s “blah.”
The water is the reason Chris’s packs are so heavy; however, it’s the one thing he says he’s not going to get caught without, heavy or not.
On the Road to Nice
Yesterday (September 15), Chris cycled another 128 kilometers from Sault to Saint-André, France. He says:
For my bike to again be pointing downward most of the day, I sure did have to pedal a lot. I’m beat.
I had to climb a couple of mountains. I was at the top of one and ready to come down when I noticed what appeared to be an old structure halfway down. When I got close, I could see that it looked like an old monastery; there’s not a house or any other modern structure anywhere near it. The date on the front door is 1016. I wish I had more time because I love this kind of stuff, even though it’s a kind of creepy.
Tomorrow (September 16), I’m heading for Nice. I’m changing the route a little but will still achieve 1,851 kilometres by trip’s end.
My wife is worried about me because she says I look sad in my photos. I hope everyone doesn’t think that! It’s just the fatigue of all the cycling. I will try to crack a smile tomorrow!
The good weather really ran out today. It poured for three hours and was steady another three. Last two hours were OK coming into Saint-André. My bike is also taking a beating. I hope it holds up! One of my clips for my clip pedals broke for some reason. Thank goodness I brought a spare. Without it, I can’t clip into the pedal.
I miss everyone and am looking forward to seeing you all soon. My total count is at 1134 kilometres after today.
Chris’s plans for the rest of the week are to make his way back toward Italy via the French coast.
Cancer Tip #5
As Chris knows from experience, international travel often requires special immunizations. However, even those of us who are staying local should make appropriate immunization a priority. Some cancers result from viral infections that can be prevented by immunizations. Liver cancer risk is increased in people with Hepatitis B. HPV is associated with an increased risk of genital cancers, and some cancers of the head and neck. Both of these may be prevented by immunizations. Talk to your doctor about how immunizations might decrease your own cancer risk.
Cancer Tip #6
Before embarking on his international journey, Chris made sure he was healthy. Whether you are biking the Tour de Mercy, or just living your everyday life, keeping up with your regular checkups and screenings can help detect health problems early when they are most treatable. Cancers of the prostate, cervix, breast, colon, and skin can be detected early by means of regular screenings. Seeing your doctor regularly enables screenings to be ordered at appropriate intervals. It also allows your doctor to know what is normal for you and identify changes in your condition promptly.
Cancer Tip #7
While Chris might have a celebratory drink at the end of his journey, keeping alcohol in its place helps keep him healthy for the long haul. The same is true for all of us. If you choose to consume alcohol, do so in moderation. Heavy alcohol consumption increases the risk of breast, colon, lung, kidney, and liver cancers. The American Cancer Society recommends no more than two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women. A drink is defined as 12 ounces of beer, five ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits.
All Chris’s trip-related expenses are paid, so 100% of your donation will benefit Mercy Cancer Center.