Tommy returns from gruelling trip up the Alps

IF fundraising with a difference is your thing – take a read of Tommy Sheehy's account of one he undertook recently.

If it inspires you – that's great. If you find it daunting – most of us will understand.

Tommy Sheehy's marathon, charity cycle from Geneva to Nice spanned a tough and gruelling 540K. However, it yielded over €8,000 for the Tralee based Kerry branch of Enable Ireland – and that was the object of the exercise.

The cycle included no less than six Tour de France climbs varying in heights of 2,000 to 3,000 metres and between 14 to 34k in length.

Tommy and a party of 18 Dubliners flew into Geneva on June 21 and began their journey at 8am the next morning. Football talk and slagging shortened the long road for them.

Day 1 was a warm up with no major climbs with the snow laden Alps lurking as a backdrop and a reminder of the challenges ahead.

From his tour diary Tommy sent the following account:

"On the second day we headed on for the town of Bourg d'Oisan which lies at the foot of the Alpe D'Huez and probably the most glamorous of the Tour de France climbs.

On our way we came across our first true climb, the Col Du Glandon at a testing 1924metres high and 21kms in length.

After reaching the summit, we ate and headed to Bourg d'Oisan and then set about tackling the Alpe d'Huez at 1815 metres high and 13.2 kms long.

There are 21 hairpin bends. This was a tough climb and we were glad to reach the summit.

As there is no through road on the peak-top village we then turned around and descended to our base for the night.

The descent was mad.

For me that was the hardest day of the tour as I never encountered such hard climbs and distances before.

There was a great satisfaction in overcoming the challenges.

Day 3 we headed for the town of Guillestre, a ski resort.

On reaching our first summit, the Col Du Lautaret at 2048 metres high and 34kms in distance it began to snow even though it was 23 degrees that morning.

Our second climb that day was Col D'Izoard which stands at 2360 metres and over 16 kms of a quiet road.

As the days went on we began to acclimatise very quickly to the high altitudes and to the even longer distances the climbs went on for.

Four days in and we headed for the town of St. Etienne de Tinee but first we had two major climbs to tackle.

The Col De Vars is 2108 metres high and 19kms long was the first on a very hot day with temperatures reaching 28 degrees.

This climb was the busiest since climbing the Alpe D'Huez - where many cyclists competed with each other. On reaching the summit we geared up for the afternoon challenge of the Cime de la Bonnette at 2802 metres and a staggering 24 kms long.

This is the highest paved through road in Europe and when you get near to the top the temperature drops substantially with a snow laden environment all around you.

There is spectacular mountain scenery everywhere to be seen in this quiet remote, high altitude spot.

A cold 26 kms descent is the prize for getting to the top as we headed onto our base for the night.

The final day arrives.

As we are so high up and our final destination , the Mediterranean city of Nice, is at sea level we spend most of the day descending.

There are several drags and hills thrown in to ensure we keep pedalling and thus staying warm.

We enter the centre of Nice along the stylish and famous Promenade des Anglais.

We settle in to the hotel and a celebratory dinner is had by all."

Tommy Sheehy is a Tralee domiciled native of Castleisland and is a son of Ned and Kitty Sheehy.

Tommy sends sincere thanks to the people of Castleisland for their generosity during his fundraising efforts and to his mom, Kitty who helped enormously with the campaign.


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