We met Monica Sattler (aka Rad Monika) in Among the Giants (ATG), a fearless rider fully in love with the bike and totally engaged to travel and explore more TOP destinations for the practice of cycling.

During the days spent riding by the Slovenian mountains with ATG, she was explaining her project, her life and as cycling has become the catalyst for all her energy, an encounter with a person inspired and motivated with an inexhaustible energy.

So, after spending a few days in the company of this great devotee of the bike, we discovered more about her last months and every adventure on wheels. Just, just a few days after returning from Slovenia, took part in the Tour du Mont Blanc, nothing more and nothing less than 330 km with 8.000m+ non-stop. We didn’t resist and asked her about her experience in this great ride.

Tour du Mont Blanc – 330km & 8.000m+. 1st day

The Tour du Mont Blanc is a circular route that surrounds this incredible mountain, passing through 3 countries: Italy, France and Switzerland. Certainly some of the most magical alpine landscapes. The Tour is a great feat, 330km in a single day and many ports to climb, 8.000 meters of positive gradient (almost equivalent to Mount Everest 8.848m).

As if that were not enough, the hardest part of the massacre comes in the second half, this ride is undoubtedly a challenge that tests the legs and head of any cyclist, a wonderful death in life. Sweat, suffering and many mystical moments that cancel all efforts and make this sport different.

LET’S START!

I woke up at 4am getting ready for the 5am start. An hour later, I was standing with about 500 other participants at the start line, at the top of Col de Saisies. I had to remind myself, this was also the finish line. That means, a 700m climb after over 300km in the legs.

It was about 10 degrees and dark. The weather forecast was excellent. 20 degrees for most of the day.

WARM UP

The first climb, Col de Montets, was the first of the three “warm up” climbs – as I call them, including Col de Forclaz and then Champex Lac. With food stations, every 50km there were plenty of stops to refill.

GREAT ST. BERNARD

While crossing the top of Champex-Lac I could see what I was waiting for so long: The view towards the Grand St Bernard. The 46km long climb with an elevation gain of over 2000m this is a beast! It drags along for a long time to get tired before the real steep part of the last 5km. Before facing this physical and mental climb, I stopped at a little café, bought a croissant and a coke. With that 5min break I felt mentally ready for the Great St. Bernard. On and off I was riding in groups. Everyone had their own pace. Although there was sometimes an effort to stick together, on a 46km it is nearly impossible to keep together. As anticipated the last 5km after the tunnel were tough. But by sticking to a sustainable pace, I arrived at the top feeling good. It was not so much the physical fatigue I was worried about. It was my mental “muscle” which I had to carefully engage. Staying motivated and focused while keeping the stamina is an absolute necessity to keep going, finishing this event and not wanting to sell the bike afterwards. 

PETIT ST. BERNARD

While heading up Petit St. Bernard I could feel exactly that: my feet. All my efforts to keep the pain level low were unsuccessful. Although called “Petit” St. Bernard, this 28km climb had an elevation gain of 1287m.

On top of Petit St Bernard, it was time to eat a hearty meal: camembert and salami. Although it seemed too heavy for me in the first 200km, now, my body was craving it after 11 hours of riding.

For me, the toughest part was done. In my mind, the 1100m ascent of Cormet du Roseland was to “enjoy”. By now, I was completely in my element. After 11 hours of riding in my legs, it was the mental muscle that matters most now.

CORMET DU ROSELAND

On top of Cormet du Roseland, I put my jacket on and started the descent. Once, I came around a corner and a turquoise lake popped up in front of me glittering in the sunset. Wow! Those are the special moments that make such a ride so memorable. I also passed a cyclist who couldn’t hold his food inside anymore and another one who gave up at the bottom of the final climb to the finish.

It became visible that it had been a long day for everyone. A long day to push mental and physical limits. The sun started to set.

ALMOST THERE

Monika, 15km to go! The final kilometers of a long day. With a few riders in the distance in the front and in the back, we were riding the last part to the finish line. It was just a matter of bringing it home. I was trying to remember how it all started this morning at 5am and where we have been riding. It seemed like it was another day – not 15 hours ago.

FINISH LINE

After 15:39 hours I crossed the finish line. I was over the moon. I couldn’t believe it when I was told I got even 3rd women. Now I had the chance to talk to riders who I have traded spots with all day long. We exchanged our stories and emotions, our good times and challenging ones.

What an event. Never a dull moment, always an amazing view over a valley or mountain range while facing a challenge that creates lifelong memories!

Author: Monika Sattler (@rad_monika)
Photographer: Laura inBianco (@laurainbianco)
Translater: Sandrine