If you’ve climbed Mont Ventoux, summited the Col du Tourmalet, crested the Passo dello Stelvio and completed London to Paris then chapeau! Quite rightly, you can be proud that you’ve achieved some awesome feats on your bike. Unlike Alfie Earl, though, we bet you hadn’t nail all of these rides before your 10th birthday!
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At the end of May, nine-year-old Alfie, his 12-year-old sister Saskia, plus dad Steve and mum Sarra, covered the 270-miles between the English and French capitals in an impressive four days. As far as we know Alfie and Saskia are the youngest boy and girl to complete L2P!
““Some people think someone as young as me shouldn't even try a ride like this,” says Alfie, “But I did it because I wanted to, and I feel proud to have finished. And I have been helping lots of people by doing this ride.” (Alfie was riding for Great Ormond Street Hospital, where his younger brother Ivan had life-saving heart surgery aged 18 months.)
"It was really hard at times and sometimes I wanted to stop,” admits Saskia, “But I did this in memory of my granny who died in November, to raise money for Cancer Research, and when I got to the Eiffel Tower it was amazing!"
For Alfie, London to Paris is just the latest in an astonishing list of rides he’s added to his palmarès before his 10th birthday. Last June, aged eight, he scaled the Col du Tourmalet. “I tried to do the Tourmalet on holiday but failed,” he explains.
“So I did a lot of training up and down hills in north London and I practiced near my grandparents' house in the Cotswolds on some 200m ascents averaging 10 percent. I learned how to keep up a good pace and never give up.” He returned to try again and, after starting in Luz-Saint-Sauveur, reached the 2,115m summit in three and a half hours. “I knew if I did it I would be the best, and anything else would not be the best!”
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Following the Tourmalet, Alfie then vowed to conquer Mont Ventoux and the Passo dello Stelvio. He did just that last October, and less than 48 hours apart! Ventoux came first.
“I trained on some mountains in Corsica on holiday and practiced longer and harder climbs to make me stronger,” explains Alfie. “And Dad and I looked at maps so we could see the hard kilometres through the forest and then the ‘moon’ near the top.”
After starting in Bedoin, Alfie reached the top 21.5kms later — conquering an average gradient of 7.5 percent and sections above 10 percent — in just over four hours.
Two days later Alfie was in Prato, ready to take on the 48 hairpins, 25.8kms and 7.4 percent average gradient of the mighty Stelvio. “This was a beast, it was so long and so tiring,” he admits. “Above 2,000m we were above the snow line and the weather was horrible. I ate sweets and just kept going. The bends went on and on but I just kept attacking around them. I knew that the Stelvio is legendary and I wanted to become part of the history!”
No doubt Alfie can claim to be part of that history and, obviously, dad Steve is incredibly proud of both Alfie and Saskia. “The kids have amazed me and amazed a lot of other people,” he says. “We do get some negative comments about parent pressure etc, but we haven’t pushed them at all, we’ve simply supported them. Do the same and you might be amazed at what kids can do with their own determination.”
As for Alfie’s self-determination? "To anyone who doubts my determination and why I like pushing myself to do more, I say this — in your face!” In your face indeed — as soon as he reached the Eiffel Tower he decided he was going to take on the formidable Col du Galibier in July "for good measure".
If you’d like to help Alfie and Saskia’s fundraising efforts you can click here for Cancer Research: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Steve-Earl4 or here for GOSH https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Steve-Earl5
Alfie and Saskia's kit for the ride was provided by Hargroves Cycles.