My 2020 Cycling Challenge – Results


Year 16 of this blog and my silly annual cycling challenges. It was obviously a fairly lousy year. First, let me wish everyone well. Here’s to a better new year.

KOM Masked Hay Surfing

Of course, 2020 was a strange cycling year for me. Zero overnight trips and few ambitious new rides. But I definitely used cycling as a way of managing my personal well-being. The after effects of exercise are highly underrated and whenever I felt down, I went pedaling.

Here are the results versus my 2020 Cycling Challenge.

160,200 Metres of Vertical Ascent
  • 525,600 minutes in a year
  • 525,600 feet = 160,200 metres.

So basically climb a foot for every minute of the year.

SUCCESS! Basically, I enjoy cycling slowly uphill on quiet routes. I mainly cycled from home, usually on hilly unpaved local roads. I am lucky to live directly below the very interesting Mont Salève. I cycled its many routes and the much smaller Mont Sion a lot. So while my distance totals were lower than usual, I achieved my ascent goal.

During the November French lockdown, it was impossible to cycle as we were required to stay within a kilometre of home. I missed my bike.

Some 2020 Mont Salève photos:

Last week. Mont Blanc in distance.
Get Healthy

August 2019 I fractured my neck and spine on a local ride. Less serious than it sounds but it’s been a struggle. I still have pain and discomfort as I search for a solution. But I can exercise, so let’s move on.

20 New Climbs

I failed this part of my challenge. I did manage a few fun new routes. The highlights:

  • An unpaved route up Col de la Biche and Grand Colombier. Details.
  • An unpaved route above the main route to Col de la Madeleine. Details.
  • Col de Sapey via Les Lacets de Montvernier. Details.
  • Col de Sapey!
  • La Route de la Soif via the 42 hairpins of Col de l’Arpettaz. Details.
  • La Route de la Soif
    Cycle 100 Different Cols

    While I might have cycled my local Col du Mont Sion 100 times, I failed at this challenge. I believe I managed 70 distinct cols – with some “cheating.”

    Cheating? During the first French lockdown, March – May, I was motivated but confined. So I rode roughly 30 cols on the home trainer. In this post I detailed my lockdown activities – I especially enjoyed software. So while I absolutely hate the trainer, I did get to virtually visit Stelvio, Mallorca, Galibier, Swiss and Austrian Alps, etc. 🙂

    Moo !
    At least one great sunrise ride.

    Woohoo, a sunrise ride has become an annual tradition, especially with my great friend Tim. This year we kept it simple and rode the steep Le Coin side of Mont Salève in the dark to see the sunrise up high. This was my last in-person interaction with a friend (!!!) … and it was a fun one. Details. Thanks Tim.

    More Adventures with Doreen

    The love of my life. My wife has been my saviour in 2020. She keeps me cheerful and sane. We spend a lot of time hiking together but we managed a few rides too. The highlight was a visit to Lac du Bourget (largest lake entirely in France) and Col du Chat. Details.

    Yes, Doreen likes to hay surf too!
    Favourite Rides of the Year?

    Here are three other great rides not mentioned above.

    1. Col des Annes via Col de la Colombière 4 Col Loop – details. A superb route climbing the famous north side of Col de la Colombière and then higher unpaved.

    Camera resting on Col des Annes summit sign.

    2. Col du Joly – details. A favourite climb in the shadow of Mont Blanc – on a sunny day with some snow up high.

    3. Plateau des Glières and Above – details.

    Final Thoughts

    I think we’re all relieved that 2020 is ending. Hopefully, things improve. I know I haven’t posted much recently and the November strict lockdown with no biking was not fun – I hiked a lot, in small circles. But trying to stay fit keeps me cheerful. And my silly challenges keep me motivated. 🙂

    All the best to you. Better New Year!


    Yesterday. Far more fun than the home trainer.
    The annual Santa ride

Happiest while cycling uphill.


  1. Hi Will,

    Staying healthy is the most important lesson we’ve learned this year, I think.
    And cycling (or sport in general) can help a lot!
    Not only for your corps but also your mind.
    So all the best wishes for 2021!
    Let’s hope it will be a better year.



    • Hi Will – well done on your challenge – twas an odd and frustrating year indeed. There was a distinct lack of “big hills” for me this year. The ride I most enjoyed was an “unscheduled” ride up Cols de Crozet / la Faucille – I hadn’t planned to do that when I left home, making it all the more fun. Mainly it’s been tootling around my favorite local routes – and no coffee stops either!
      Here’s to a better 2021. Stay safe,

  2. Hey Will,
    Congratulations on making the most of a most strange year – who predicted that our cycling plans would be so heavily influenced by Coronavirus? My original plans included cycling adventures to Mallorca, Aosta / Bourg St Maurice & Cyprus, however, lockdowns & travel restrictions prevented any overseas trips in the end.

    The upside of my cancelled trip to Aosta / Bourg St Maurice was that I spent the 2 weeks taking day trips to explore new routes in the South of England. As you so eloquently put it, cycling is about mental health as much as physical health.

    Thank you for sharing your cycling adventures throughout 2020 – here’s hoping 2021 allows us all to travel a bit further afield & explore some new routes.
    Wishing you a Happy New Year, stay safe


  3. Thanks for keeping the blog going. I have enjoyed searching it for planning my next trip to the Alps and Pyrenees. Being stuck here on Maui has been fun as I created my own various Col de Heres and Alpes d’Somewheres. I agree with you that biking (and paddling) are great outlets for a healthy mind and body. Here’s to 2021 and many cols and cows. Cheers!

  4. Hello, of course now it doesn’t matter, just a little bit of nitpicking. The year 2020 was a leap year, so actually it had 527 400 minutes, which is roughly 160 750 meters (it’s really almost 500 meters a day?!) Of course, I am only joking (my OCD kicked in), all the best in the New Year 2021.

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