Back in Valencia last year, having just finished Challenge 125, I started thinking about how we could top that adventure. Suddenly it dawned on me that we need a more physical challenge this time. I quickly came up with the concept for The Five Peaks Challenge. It seemed fairly straightforward to me. Climbing five peaks in five different countries in five days can’t be that difficult, can it?
In my mind a bit of mountain climbing was going to take a couple of hours each day, giving us plenty of time to enjoy a great ride through the European mountains. Who wouldn’t want to do that? I spoke to Danny and straight away he was up for it, even committing to doing it during his summer break from filming Death in Paradise. We then had to decide who the third rider should be. I had a couple of people in mind and one in particular that I really hoped would join us. I spoke to Danny and straight away he agreed with me; we needed some glamour as well as credibility. There was only one person that was going to fit the bill. Making the decision was the easy bit, convincing her it would be a good idea to join us was going to be a little trickier!
Chesca Miles is the UK’s top female street bike freestyle stunt rider as well as a top model and actress. Would she really want to join a couple blokes on pink bikes for a few days of riding and climbing mountains? I’d met Chesca a couple of times before and it seemed we’d got on okay, and I’d said that if anything interesting came up I would let her know. When I phoned Chesca to explain what we had planned and ask if she was up for it, I got an immediate yes! I was surprised but really pleased that she was on board. The three Amigos were ready to ride!
Having planned the route and organised a crew and guides for the trip it looked like we were ready to roll as planned. The bikes were loaded ready to travel to France and pick up Danny from Paris Orly airport. Chesca and three of the crew were already en route and were going to meet us at Euro Tunnel. So, come 1.30pm on the 17th of July we were ready to go, except for one thing: Nathan the director was lost! We hadn’t even left my house and already we were a man down. Eventually we got going at 2pm and headed off to the tunnel with time to spare, until we hit the M25 that is! We were soon stuck in stationary traffic, going nowhere. After a nightmare journey we met up with the rest of the team and headed through the tunnel just two hours late. Still plenty of time to get to the hotel by 10.30pm. Yes, you guessed it, we hit the Paris traffic and finally got there at 2.00am. Not the best start but at least we were there to pick Danny up in the morning.
The next day Chesca and I got to the airport on time only to find out Danny’s plane was delayed by an hour or so. Was this to be the story of our adventure? When Danny did arrive, he was all smiles and raring to go; how he manages that after an 8-hour flight I have no idea. We jumped in the car to head off to find a location to unload the bikes and start our Five Peaks Challenge.
As we jumped onto the bikes for the first time we were like kids in a sweetie shop, eyes wide with excitement at the newly-painted bikes and helmets to match. As we changed into our new Alpinestars riding gear we felt fantastic, despite the inevitable rain. And so our epic adventure began, I couldn’t stop smiling inside my helmet at the thought of what lay ahead.
What lay ahead turned out to be an experience I would never forget. Just to make one thing clear here, I hate heights more than anyone else I know. If I climb a ladder and look down I get that awful feeling in my stomach that I can’t get rid of until I’m back on terra firma! I started asking myself if this was a good idea. The next day I soon found out!
Putting on climbing gear for the fist time is not as easy as it sounds, and the safety briefing that accompanies it is enough to put you off the whole idea. As we headed off towards the rock face I found myself getting short of breath, not great considering we hadn’t even started climbing. We were on a steady incline but nothing too steep – but I had forgotten that we were already at altitude and that breathing wasn’t as easy as at ground level. Finally we arrived at the start of the first climb, I looked up and I’m not afraid to say I was more nervous at that moment than I could ever remember. Mark our guide said “I’ve brought you to this easy climb today as I know it’s the first one for you” Easy? Is he having a laugh? I looked at the others. Chesca was full of confidence and bouncing up and down in excitement, Danny was all smiles and raring to go! What had I let myself in for?
Without giving too much away I can honestly say that the adventure turned out to be truly epic! I’ve never ridden such fantastic roads, among such spectacular views; they will be etched on my mind forever. Danny and I have been good friends for a long time and ridden a lot of miles together, but nothing as spectacular as this. Without doubt Chesca is one of the nicest people I have ever met and it was a privilege to spend the five days riding with her. She really is one of the best riders I have come across and she was definitely the most confident in all conditions, but then she’s the professional rider here. As for hanging off mountains, let’s just say I never got over my fear but the views up there are so spectacular that everything else pales by comparison.
I for one can’t wait to see the show when it’s finished. Did we complete the challenge? I hear you say. Well, all will be revealed soon.