The English Channel is the 21 mile stretch of water that separates England and France. It has become the most iconic swim to tackle in the world.
As the crow flies, the shortest distance between Dover and the rocky outcrop of Cap Griz Nez, France is 33.3km. But a Channel swimmer’s passage is governed by massive tides, which draw a looping ‘S’ across the straits as they fight the ebb and flow of the cold water. This is where the knowledge of the pilot comes into it’s own, and a swimmers ability to step on the gas when they need to break through.
The ride from Calais to Chamonix goes by Reims, the internationally renowned champagne region. As I pass I’ll be very tempted to stop and celebrate my achievement of swimming the channel!
Alas though, I’m scheduled to be in the saddle 14 hours a day. The equivalent of two slow Ironman bike legs per day for 3 days.
I’ll be travelling night and day to try and cover an average of 290+ km per day and I’ll need to keep my speed up to about 23km per hour. There are two significant hills near the end which I’ll have to conserve my energy to ascend.
Mont Blanc is the highest mountain in the Alps at 4,809 meters (15,777 feet) above sea level.
Jacques Balmat and the doctor Michel Paccard were the first people to ascend Mont Blanc on the 8th of August in 1786. The first woman to climb Mont Blanc was Marie Paradis in 1808. The first dog without human technical help was “Tschingel” from Grindelwald in 1875.
About 20,000 climbers attempt to climb Mont blanc per year. The majority go via the popular route Voie Des Cristalliers, also known as the Voie Royale. Depending on the year the success rate is anywhere 35 to 80% with most journeys being turned back by poor weather.
The Mont Blanc Massif averages nearly 100 fatalities a year. A published estimate suggests there have been 6,000-8,000 alpinist fatalities in total, more than on any other mountain. It is not a mountain to be trifled with and to succeed with this challenge it will be necessary to have good weather align with the end of the bike ride.