My 2021 Cycling Challenge


2021 would be the 17th year of my silly annual cycling challenges. Back in 2005, I was an occasional cyclist and challenged myself to ride 10,000 kilometres. Now I am addicted to riding my bike.

Christmas Day 2005 – 10,000 kms and first cycling challenge success.

See here for my 2020 Cycling Challenge results.

I must admit that I have come close to ending this blog after this depressing year. Me on twitter a few hours ago. 🙂

But fuck it. Yes, 2020 sucked. But let’s have some hope. Plus, I need the motivation. Let’s start over. I am going to do the exact same Challenge as 2020!

So here is my simple, yet hopeful, 2021 Cycling Challenge:

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.

I like cycling slowly uphill, often unpaved. Personally, I prefer tracking ascent more than distance or speed. And I live in a hilly region.

The climb behind home: Mont Salève.
20 New Climbs

I like exploring. I think one thing people like about this site is when I post interesting routes that are not well known – paved or unpaved. I’ve had lots of time this year to plan a few ideas. 🙂

In 2020, “La Route de la Soif via Col de l’Arpettaz” was probably the ride where I received the most emails or messages from people that went on to ride the route after me (and loved it).

Route de la Soif

BONUS CHALLENGE: Find a few new climbs that I can add to this favourite old post: Forty of the Highest Unpaved Cycling “Roads” in the Alps

Spot the cyclist. Descending Bocchetta di Pedenolo (2703m)
Cycle 100 Different Cols

Variety is the spice of life. COVID restrictions prevented me from completing this goal in 2020. Hopefully, 2021 will be better. I like discovering new cols as well as revisiting great old friends.

If the Col doesn’t have a bar, bring your own beer

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. See here for a few favourites from the past:

More Adventures with Doreen

I love biking (and hiking) with my wonderful wife. She is not a bike fanatic like me but has a long list of accomplishments (Galibier, Ventoux, Iseran, Alpe d’Huez, etc. etc.) always climbed with a smile. Hopefully, we can plan a few more adventures.

Our best trips have been exploring the endless network of Burgundy canals (traffic free and peaceful). But hmmmm, I’ve always wanted to show her Colle del Nivolet?!?

Le Canale du Centre
What Else?

I’ll just repeat what I said last year:

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. Happy Better New Year!


Hopefully different kit in 2021. Be well.

Happiest while cycling uphill.


  1. Dear Will,

    Over the years your posts have been my primary source of inspiration for new adventures. I will never forgot following your Stelvio and Galibier unpaved routes 🙂 Amazing!!!
    So glad to hear your blog will continue. Thank You and keep going …


    • Those two unpaid routes are among my very favourite rides. I remember feeling jubilant during as I realised the routes would work and were so beautiful.

  2. Happy New Year to you, Will, and thanks for continuing your blog. All I managed to follow in your wheeltracks this year was the Joux Plane and the Semnoz (via St Eustache) in early March before contracting Covid and returning to the UK. Not sure things will improve quickly enough for my annual Feb/March trip this year, but I still thank you loads for getting me into (slowly) riding up mountains. PS if you’re ever in Asturias in Northern Spain, ride the Puerto de la Cubilla – you’ll love it.

  3. Appreciate all the cycling inspiration over the years. Last year I might not have got across to the Alps but looking at your blog for future route planning is giving me hope. Hopefully summer 2021 brings better luck. Good luck with your challenge and thanks again.

  4. Happy New Year Will! I’ve enjoyed your posts since leaving Geneva. Big thank you for continuing to post. Expect you have faithful readers and new readers yet to come. Sharing your adventures and knowledge am sure has been indispensable for countless rides. Hopefully we can ride again together one day in the future.

    Best wishes for a better 2021 to you and Doreen.


    • Hi Martin! I hope you and your family are well. I don’t think I have a friend in Europe that I didn’t meet via this blog or some other cycling thing. And I think you might have been the first good friend I met via this blog ….. a long time ago 🙂

      Yes, hopefully one day we’ll pedal together again.

  5. Happy New Year Will. Delighted you have decided to continue. Cycling vicariously uphill has never been more important for me and countless others. Really enjoyed your post about cycling up from Grande Naves. Always wanted to know if it is possible to cycle from there to Lac de Saint Guerin. In 2020, miraculously we managed to travel from the UK to the Dolomites in September and climb Stelvio, Giau and the Sella Ronda. Seems like a dream now.

  6. Will,

    Happy new year!

    Thank you for the years of inspiration and information your blog has gifted to all of us. Some day we will all have to come together for a Will’s Gran Fondo to celebrate riding uphill on remote roads in beautiful places!

    Looking forward to another year of your blog adventures, merci beaucoup.

    Keep the rubber side down!
    Chris M

  7. Dear Will

    A belated Happy New Year to you and thanks, as always, for your site and the inspiration it provides us all. I can understad the feeling of wanting to pack it all in after that sh!te year we’ve had. It’s your call, but even if you did and just kept the site up it’d be one of the best things on the internet! Good luck in the year ahead and perhaps our paths will cross up near the top of a col somewhere.


  8. Belated Happy New Year

    Happy that you are keeping the blog going. It has been an amazing source of inspiration and information.


    Really glad you are keeping it going……Your ride write ups have inspired me to some wonderful cycling adventures over the years….Keep it up :]

  10. I comment a bit late, but better late than never 🙂 I read you considered abandoning the blog. Well, I am happy you did not. I read your pages from time to time and you are an inspiration for new climbs… expecially after a cr*ppy year (and some month) like the last

  11. Great blog that I keep coming back to during these long months of lockdown uncertainty. Your blog provides some much needed escapism and good practical advice and routes. What I wouldn’t give to swap homes for a year and have these mountains on my doorstep rather than endless loops of Richmond Park and Box hill.
    Keep up the good work, I’m hoping to be out in Provence this September with my girlfriend and want to take on Ventoux

  12. Will,
    Finally back in the Alps after missing out last year (was there a “last year”?). As always, I’ll be using your site as my primary guide to finding the best rides of my life. Thanks for all that you share, and for your unquenchable joie de vélo.


  13. Hi Will – hope this year is going better for you. Am revisiting your blog to help with re-planning, for next year, the Col-hunting trip I had to postpone last year. Although it’s a double edged sword – your photos and write-ups make me want to climb all the hills!

    Anyway, noting 160200 is special to you, I wonder if you will be able to restrain yourself from going a further 735 vertical metres, for 100 miles, or will you save that one for another year?

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My Cycling Challenge