Riding the Stelvio Pass- the highest paved road in the Italian Alps at 2757m / 9045ft

Simon Wheeler is the Managing Director of Agria Pet Insurance. But in addition to his day job, these past few months he’s been training for a rather big challenge – one that will see him helping to fundraise for MASKS!

 

Supporter: Simon Wheeler

Challenge: 24.3km cycle from Prato to the Passo dello Stelvio in the Italian Alps: an 1808m ascent from 950m to 2758m at the top. Following this I’ll be heading to Bormio to the Passo dello Stelvio (attack the other side of the mountain) in a 1533m ascent over 21km.

Simon will be tackling these 2 climbs on 7th July 2017 to raise money for MASKS (Make A Special Kid Smile) to donate click here

 

We’re delighted that he’sriding for MASKS, we thought we’d catch up with him and find out some more about what he’s up to…

Tell us about your challenge!

I will be cycling up the notorious Stelvio Pass in the Italian Alps from both sides. It’s a ride of over 45km up a route that’s famously included in the Giro D’Italia, from Prato up over the Stelvio Pass and then again from Bormio.

It has quite a fearsome reputation as being pretty relentless, with an average gradient of 7% over the climb. While that doesn’t sound TOO bad, once you take into account there are many sections reaching up to 12%, it’s not going to be a walk in the park!

Luckily I won’t be alone: 11 of us from the Agria cycling team are tackling the challenge. We’re very supportive of each other, so having us all there will be a great help.

Why have you chosen MASKS to support?

MASKS (Make A Special Kid Smile) is a local charity that supports young people with a range of complex learning, communication and behavioural needs and provides opportunities to help them realise their full potential and be as independent as possible.

Agria was introduced to MASKS by Dogs for Good and generating funds to support the charity’s important work perfectly matches our ambitions when launching our community support programme.

And why the Stelvio Pass – it looks pretty tough…?

I love pushing myself and I love cycling and, following last year’s Mont Ventoux challenge, Passo di Stelvio is just another one of those things in life that ‘just has to be done because it’s there’. And if taking on such a tough challenge encourages people to support the Agria team by donating funds for MASKS, that’s a huge bonus for a little bit of self-indulgence.

What’s your training regime?

I’m continuing with my usual bike/swim weekly training. Although, obviously, good fitness will be needed, I believe that succeeding with a challenge like this entirely depends on having your head in the right place. Doing this for a great cause helps tremendously with that focus, as does being part of a team all going through the same mental preparation and physical pain.

What are you most looking forward to about the challenge?

The incredible buzz I anticipate as I turn the final corner and can get on with considering the impending descent…

And do you any fears about taking something like this on?

No fears as such, I’m just keen to ensure I enjoy the entire challenge – even the really tough parts. Also that my elderly, squeaky bike will be as enthusiastic about the climb as I am.

What’s the hardest cycling challenge you’ve done up until now?

I’ve done quite a few tough rides – all of them have been very challenging in their own way. These have included Mont Ventoux, Ride the Rockies in Colorado – 600 miles in 7 days including 8 x 10,000 foot mountains and Bealach na Bà out of Applecross in Wester Ross which is steep and the greatest ascent of any road climb in UK.

Do you have a secret weapon to get you up the fearsome climb?

Copious amounts of red wine the night before … numbs the pain in your backside and the headache takes your mind off creaking legs!

 

Rob Heime is Senior Analyst for Agria Pet Insurance. But in addition to his day job, these past few months he’s been training for a rather big challenge – one that will see him fundraising for Dog A.I.D.!

 

Supporter: Rob Heime

Challenge: 24.3km cycle from Prato to the Passo dello Stelvio in an 1808m ascent from 950m to 2758m at the top, followed by Bormio to the Passo dello Stelvio (attack the other side of the mountain) in a 21km long 1533m ascent.

Rob will be tackling thee 2 climbs on 7th July 2017 to raise money for Dog A.I.D. (Assistance in Disability). To donate click here

 

Rob Heime is Senior Analyst for Agria Pet Insurance. But in addition to his day job, these past few months he’s been training for a rather big challenge – one that will see him fundraising for Dog A.I.D.!

We’re so delighted that he’s chosen Dog A.I.D. to raise money for, we thought we’d catch up with him and find out some more about what he’s up to…

Tell us about your challenge!

I will be cycling up the notorious Stelvio Pass in the Italian Alps from both sides. It’s a ride of over 45km up a route that’s famously included in the Giro D’Italia, from Prato up over the Stelvio Pass and then again from Bormio.

It has quite a fearsome reputation as being pretty relentless, with an average gradient of 7% over the climb. While that doesn’t sound TOO bad, once you take into account there are many sections reaching up to 12%, it’s not going to be a walk in the park!

Luckily I won’t be alone: 11 of us from the Agria cycling team are tackling the challenge, each for a different charity close to our hearts. We’re very supportive of each other, so having us all there will be a great help.

Why have you chosen Dog A.I.D.! to support?

Dog A.I.D. was a charity that I was unfamiliar with but they were introduced to me by our Charities Channel Manager and they seem an outstanding choice. I couldn’t be happier. The work they do is not just a support for less abled people but empowers them to learn how to train their pet dog to become a qualified “Assistance Dog”. Fantastic.

And why the Stelvio Pass – it looks pretty tough…?

This is going to be something that will stay with me for a long time. There is a group of us going out there and we’re all slightly overwhelmed by the enormous challenge of cycling up a mountain. Last year we did Mont Ventoux in France and this year we have decided to challenge ourselves even further and take on the mighty Stelvio. This is a huge challenge but it has inspired us and hopefully it will inspire others to think about all the hard work and time and resource given by charities like Dog A.I.D. to help people.

 

There aren’t many weeks left – how are you feeling about the climb?

Terrified. Honestly. I went for a training ride the other day and came across a continuous incline that lasted about 1km. It destroyed me! How on earth am I going to make it up an unrelenting climb that goes on for over 20kms?!

What’s your training regime?

I cycle to work most days just to make sure I get the legs turning over, and get out for a serious ride every couple of weeks. I am trying to make sure I have rides that last at least 3 hours to get the muscles used to cycling whilst fatigued but nothing will compare to actually climbing the mountain. 

Having a good cause is the driving force I need to keep getting out and cycling during the rainy weekends we have been having recently. Otherwise, it is too tempting to stay indoors…

What are you most looking forward to about the challenge?

Two things – the sense of achievement once we make it to the top, and cycling downhill afterwards. We are going as a group and the camaraderie among us all is fantastic.  

And do you any fears about taking something like this on?

Yes. I think the temperature change is something that I’m worrying about. At the start of the climb, it will be summer in the Italy, around 25°C, whereas by the time I get to the top, there will still be snow on the ground. Also the fear of cycling off a cliff!

What’s the hardest cycling challenge you’ve done up until now?

Last year we all went to ride up Mont Ventoux and I rode the 3 routes up that mountain over 2 days so that was pretty serious. This will be even harder. 

Do you have a secret weapon to get you up the fearsome climb?

Jelly babies.

And, friends in our group are a huge support.

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