The Environmental 12

THE 416 ride... Again

The current CO2 concentration in the atmosphere is 416 parts per million (ppm). This month, I'm going to try again to ride 416km (1 km per ppm) to mark this incredible number.
My second attempt really, as I ran into some problems last month and ended up at 240km, a lot less but also what we used to stand at in terms of concentration before the industrial revolution.
Manuel announces the April challenge
Challenge completed! 416km and 3000m of climbing in about 18 hours on the bike. Of course, unsupported!

The ride took place between Thursday night (22nd) and Friday, so just around Earth Day. The conditions were pretty much perfect. What a change compared to my previous attempt last month!

I started around 7pm with a nice tailwind, which carried me to Nyon (100km into the ride) in under 3 and a half hours. Of course, I had to pay back for this with a nice headwind on my way to Valais along Lac Léman! Still, I kept some good pace, passing through Lausanne in 5 hours (135km) and turning back at St-Maurice at the 8-hour mark (190km).

Being a bit ahead of plan then, with the temperatures plummeting and my body starting to shut down with fatigue, I decided to look for a place to sleep before taking on the big climb to Chatel-St-Denis. It turns out Montreux has a couple nice shielded bar terraces and I managed to get 45 minutes of sleep despite the near 0oC temperatures. That was awesome.

Wake up near 5am (with about 9 hours of riding and 2 hours break), followed by one hour of climbing got me to my breakfast and the start of the second half of the ride. From Chatel-St-Denis, on paper the profile becomes just one long downhill followed by a nice flat section.  What a surprise waiting for me!

First, headwinds (la bise in French) picked up and became quite relentless all the way to Solothurn. Then, there was also the never ending ups and downs, sometimes with sections as steep as 15%. That 100km section from Chat-St-Denis to Solothurn was one of the toughest I have done in a long time. It took me 7 hours to cover it including breaks (and there were plenty!), still ok after all.

One of my good friends told me to smiling when things get tough. Apparently, the fact of smiling release positive chemicals in your brain. I have my own technique which involved smiling and swearing at the same time. MeteoSwiss who predicted low winds on Friday got my full attention!

But once in Solothurn, another turn-around point 355km into the ride, I got to enjoy again the wind behind my back. And from there on, it was really just a nice 60km of celebrating this awesome day. Thanks for reading and watch this space for the event video I plan to release soon!