I’ve always been into bikes, riding regularly since I was about four. I ride around three times a week with my family and my local club in Sutton, Surrey, where we’ll do routes including climbs like Box Hill, and two years ago I rode up Mont Ventoux with my dad.
Both my parents have ridden Les Cingles (completing the three different ascents of the mountain in one day) and I was determined to do it too. My mum was initially going to ride with me, but she had to look after my little sister, so she drove alongside spurring me on and reminding me to eat.
This challenge was something I felt I had to do. It means a lot to me because of my family links to it and because I wanted to show people that if I put my mind to something I can do it. In the weeks leading up to it I trained with my mum on Surrey’s hills.
I also did a training trip to north Devon with my dad, where coach Rob Wakefield from Propello Bikes planned a route, which took in Porlock Hill. I trained on a Wattbike every week too, aiming to do 10km in less than 20 minutes, and I used a rowing machine and went swimming to boost my stamina.
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I was a little anxious on the day, part of me just wanted to get it over with. We started out early and I had some muesli and an apple before my first climb. The conditions were good and there was no wind, but it was getting warmer and by the middle of the second ascent, with the sun in my eyes and skies clear, I really felt the heat. I wasn’t prepared for that, but I kept going.
I ate energy bars, but I’m not a big fan, so most of my fuelling came from dried apricots and a pizza I ate in Sault before the final climb.
Coming down that last descent after 13 hours it began to sink in that I’d done this, but even now I can’t quite believe what I’ve achieved.
Amber’s top tips
Stay on the drops when descending
Otherwise your hands really hurt! My dad and I worked on this before we set off. It’s easy to get caught up with the climbing involved in Les Cingles, but remember there’s an equal amount of downhill.
Get the gearing right
When we’d ridden up from Sault two years before I was on a compact cassette with only a 25-tooth cog at the back; this time I had a 32.
Prepare for light changes
Take lights with you because after 12 hours or so, it starts to get dark. Take sunglasses too, I don’t usually ride with them though and I handed mine back to the support car, but the sunshine can be quite fierce.