Mental Health, the Pyrenees, and a group of cyclists willing to ride for miles and miles while climbing mountains for a good cause. This is how the Endless Ride fundraiser was born, a beautiful solidarity project by the hand of Gonzalo Pérez and Solidaritat de Sant Joan de Déu, whose first edition was held in the Valle de Arán (Spain).
The objective of the challenge was clear, to get one euro for each gained meter to invest in Mental Health, which as Gonzalo rightly says “is something that affects us all, no matter how close or far we are.” Several brands and many participants were involved from the first moment, contributing with donations and wanting to be part of the event with all kinds of contributions.
The route consisted of 270 km and +8,000 m of elevation gain. Completing it was not going to be an easy task. Luckily, the days around the summer solstice are long and, starting the challenge at 4:30 in the morning, there was a certain margin to ride at a relatively calm pace and add kilometers and meters little by little.
There were several options aside from completing the whole route. Depending on the level of each participant, the track was divided into a total of four sections so that you could join in at any point. These ensured a greater number of participants and allowed everyone to choose and enjoy the section that best suited their interests and fitness level.
A total of ten cyclists began pedaling at dawn, immersed in the night, from the town of Vielha in the direction of Alto Arán. Well-known passes such as La Bonaigua or Pla de Beret and others not so well-known such as Banhs de Tredos, were the starting dish of the day, which made them quickly wake up to a movie-like sunrise.
After completing all the passes of that first zone, the participants of “section two” joined the party to continue adding passes in the Medio and Bajo Arán, where the toughness of the course was already beginning to be higher due to the average slope of the climbs and the accumulated fatigue after the first kilometers. Mythical cols of the Tour de France such as Portilhon cloud not be missed while riding this area.
Several provisioning stations set by the organizers along the route provided constant energy to all the participants, who were happy to spot them from afar. Even a barbecue was waiting in Artiga de Lin with good food, definitely necessary to recharge batteries and face the second half of the challenge.
The transition from midday to afternoon during the summer in the Pyrenees can always bring some surprises. The clouds began to form and punctual showers surprised the participants of the challenge in its last section.
With worn faces, not knowing what else to eat, and strongly nodding while riding, some of the participants struggled to stay on top of the bike and complete the entire route in heavy rain and with night about to arrive. All for Mental Health.
Completing a challenge of this magnitude is not within the reach of many cyclists, let alone finishing it in the conditions that settled at the end of the day. Our most sincere congratulations to all the participants who managed to complete this tough challenge and to all the participants who pedaled through the different sections of the route for a beautiful charity cause.