My 2020 Cycling Challenge


Happy New Year! 2020 will be year sixteen of this blog.

I feel exactly the same as I did last January when I wrote:

I appreciate all the support from people last year when I considered ending the website given how the world has moved to social media. But I realised I’d keep writing this blog even with zero readers. Because for me it’s like a personal journal.

At this point, I love cycling so much – and miss it so much when injured – that I don’t need an annual goal for motivation. But these silly annual challenges help give me an idea framework for the year.

See here for the results of My 2019 Cycling Challenge.

Anyway, here is My 2020 Cycling Challenge.

Get Healthy

I am still struggling after my August crash. I can ride, but I need to reign in my short-term ambitions in terms of length and bumpiness (mtb). Frankly, sitting and walking hurt more than cycling. I am working on finding the right rehab/therapy plan as well as fixing the ergonomics of my life. Don’t worry, I’ll get there. Hopefully, I’ll be at full strength by spring. Bah! Talking about injuries/rehab is boring, so my apologies. But I need to be responsible.

A good ride today!
160,200 Metres of Vertical Ascent

When I was a kid growing up in Canada, we switched from Imperial to Metric. So I am vaguely “bilingual.” 160,200 is a magic number for me.

  • 525,600 minutes in a year
  • 525,600 feet = 160,200 metres.

So basically climb a foot for every minute of the year. At 8 am on January first I got out of bed and was already 480 feet behind schedule! This is a big target but not too crazy given all my local rides are by definition hilly. I have managed either side of 200,000 metres a year in recent years (178,000m in 2019). This will be a good goal that I can target while doing lots of shorter rides early in the year.

Lots of fun steep roads near home
20 New Climbs

I like exploring and finding new routes/climbs. I assume readers are less interested in articles about well-known routes to super-famous roads like Passo dello Stelvio than hearing about an unpaved Stelvio option over an even higher col.

26 unpaved kilometres to Stelvio

Instead of writing about the usual route up Galibier, I enjoy finding an even higher col with the same start point that is so unknown I held the Strava KOM (because no-one else had ridden it).

Col de la Vallée Etroite, 2732m, same start as Galibier
Col des Ayes, 2477m, was a good find in 2019

I have a few goods ideas for 2020. 🙂

Cycle 100 Different Cols

Variety is the spice of life. Enough said.

Always stand on the sign when visiting Joux Plane
At least one great sunrise ride.

Hopefully, with my friend Tim. Half the fun is brainstorming a good option. It needs to be a great climb with perfect views towards the rising sun. A few favourites from the past:

Bonette at dawn with Tim, Alfie, and Richard
Grand Colombier at dawn with Tim
Galibier at dawn
Mont Ventoux at dawn
More Adventures with Doreen

I love cycling and hiking with my wife. She’s not a cycling maniac like me, but she’s managed many of the famous climbs in France (Galibier, Bonette, Iseran, Joux Plane, Ventoux, Roselend, Alpe d’Huez, Colombière, etc). In 2020, we’ll try and do a few big bike-only days together as well as our usual hiking, local rides, city-bike trips, and flatter canal rides. Fun.

Doreen and Les Lacets de Montvernier
Doreen on Col de l’Iseran bike day
Munich Olympiapark with Doreen
Doreen Hay Surfing !!
Doreen – Grand Colombier in background

What Else?

I have lots of other ideas. I’d like to get above 3000 metres again. I’d like to ride at least one of the many signed, multi-day, grande-traversée mountain bike routes in France. I have a never ending list of cols I hope to visit. etc. But I’ll leave all these ideas as potential upside for the upcoming year.

I hope everyone has success with whatever cycling challenges you may have. Stay healthy. Happy New Year!


More Hay Surfing in 2020

Happiest while cycling uphill.


  1. Hi Will,

    Great photos as usual. Yes, your gravelly alternatives are the stand-out feature of your blog among others (esp. since I just bought a gravel bike!), but it’s still good to get your insight into the more well-known routes.

    I hope you get back to full fitness soon and entertain us once more with your adventures



  2. Luc Berthelotte on

    Take care Will and I wish you a fast recovery. Looking forward to more adventures of yours.
    I am going to St Didier in may to ride around that region and of course go up and down Mont Ventoux from all three sides. If you happen to be in the area, give sign of life , we can maybe ride together.


  3. gerald durkan on

    Maybe add Maui to your list. We have the Cycle to the Sun in June (3000m over 58km) as well as loops around West Maui and Haleakala. Add them together for the epic Figure of Eight (around 5000m over 257km).
    I am sure Doreen would enjoy the Road to Hana.

  4. Happy New Year, Dude.
    Wishing you a rapid, complete and sustainable recovery in 2020 and many happy uphill kilometres.

  5. stephen mcbrien on

    Hi Will glad to hear that the legs are moving again, great 2020 challenge what sort of mileage do you think that amount of climbing do you think it would add up too.

  6. David Botterill on

    Hi Will,
    I’ve not been on your website for a couple of years, I imagine, having moved a bit away form adventure riding to do more racing. I’m so glad to see you’re still doing and still sharing. Fantastic, inspirational stuff. Bravo !
    I came back because I have a vague plan to fly to Nice and ride back home to Gérardmer through the Alps this year. Should be about 1000km. I’m wondering when would be the best time of year for avoiding traffic and of course snow-bound roads.
    Have fun with your 2020 goals.

    • Hi David,

      June or September are much better than July August for quieter roads. If you’re not including the super high Alps stuff then May and October could work. But the highest stuff like Bonette, Galibier, etc. are usually not open until June.

      Best of luck, enjoy.

  7. Glad you didn’t shut down the site Will. Great resource when planning a trip to Europe. Right now I’m planning a few days in Bourg Saint-Maurice in July, so all your experiences are a gold mine. Thanks & hope you get the last of the injury healed up soon.

  8. Hi Will

    Reading your experiences has left me almost breathless with the vast numbers of rides and mountain passes out there…

    I live in Colorado and have travelled a few times to Europe to bike some of the iconic road race climbs like Alpe d’Huez etc. Now I want to come back later this summer to ride Colle de Nivolet. Having seen your picture on the web a few years but never knowing where it was it is simply stunning and just reads like a fairy book climb. I have put your picture on my computer desktop as inspiration to do something new and hard -Not sure about the 18 km tunnel….. 🙂

    Anyway, if you head out to my back woods, we have have some great road climbs like Aspen up to Independence Pass at an altitude of 12,000 ft / 3700m, and my favourite lung buster, Mt Evans from my house that is 2000 meter climb, with the summit at 14,200ft or 4328m!
    This is a relatively moderate gradient climb around 4-7%, but the lower oxygen levels really slow things down above 12,000.

    Wish you a steady and strong recovery. As an old guy i know it can take longer to heal but we have resilience and can tackle anything.



  9. Sometimes things need to be made more obvious for me:). Thanks for linking. Also, until I read this, I was not aware of your accident. I hope you are fully recovered. It looks like you are well on the way to your climbing goal. – Pete

  10. Martin Philpott on

    Please don’t close down your site Will – it’s awe inspiring and has been a motiation to me and many other riders. Please keep on riding, writing and posting amazing photes. All the best Martin.

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