Gareth Evans (third from left), 39, rounded up a group of friends to take on the Alps, raise money for charity and create a new annual challenge
We took on a 36-hour non-stop ride from Geneva starting at dawn on Saturday, finishing at sunset on Sunday in San Remo, Italy, which included 500km of cycling, 11,000m of climbing and the biggest climb in Europe. It came out of a desire to do something to help kids in the Syrian refugee crisis. Myself and three other cyclists (Mike, Seb and Danny) wanted to do something more sustainable than a one-off ride to raise sponsorship money.
We thought we’d establish an annual event – the Wolf Pack Challenge. We chose to raise money for Save The Children ( savethechildren.org.uk) and for the first challenge we tried to think of the most brutal, ludicrous ride, but one we could still realistically do.
The choice of Geneva to San Remo stemmed from a love of riding in the high mountains. We wanted to create something that involved a lot of climbing and replicated the atmosphere of the Dunwich Dynamo - a magical, open, free 200km night ride from London Fields in Hackney to Dunwich on the Suffolk Coast, held in July. Eight of us set out from Geneva. We’d all done some long rides before, but nothing like a 36-hour journey into the unknown. We vowed to stay as a pack, which meant we were together for the most memorable moments, especially between 3am and 5am on the Sunday morning, on the Col de la Bonette, the highest road in France. We’d been riding almost 23 hours, and the wind had taken the temperature below zero. We could only see the patch of road that our headlamps illuminated and all we could hear were the sounds of mountain animals. Riding the last leg from Nice to St Remo, beneath a blazing sun with everyone suffering a collection of ailments and injuries, I got that euphoric certainty that it was basically done and felt the finish line would soon come.
We’d all done long rides before, but nothing like a 36-hour journey into the unknown
Wolf Pack (wolfpackhowl.tumblr.com) raised over £10,000 for Save The Children, and would like to thank HaloVeloCC, Veloforte nutrition and Condor Cycles, London.