Following his University days, James Little headed to the French Alps where he worked for five ski seasons. Although now-a-days you’ll find him advising clients at his Dorset based firm, Alchemy Financial, he still makes it back to Europe regularly to ski in the winter and to ride his bike in the mountains in the summer.
We recently caught up with James, who shared his cycling experiences with us.
“My first experience of road cycling in the Alps was competing in the Etape du Tour in 2015, and I didn’t really know what to expect other than a very tough day on the bike. I’ve now ridden three Etapes – in 2015, 2016 and 2019, so obviously enjoyed the first experience!
The Etape is a closed road event where there are 16,000 places for riders to complete one of the mountain stages of the Tour de France. It takes places on the Sunday before the pros tackle the stage.
The 2015 event from St Jean de Maurienne to La Toussuire (Stage 19 of that year’s Tour de France) was around 146 kms with 4,600m of climbing and it was very hot too - 39 degrees in the valley at the bottom of the final climb! It was the hardest physical challenge of my life, but I loved riding the mountains.
In 2016 the route was from Megeve to Morzine, 122 kms long with 2,700m of climbing. My finishing time placed me just outside the top 1,100 (of 11,300) finishers and 619th fastest on the three timed climbs.
This year we rode what was going to be Stage 20 of the Tour from Albertville to Val Thorens, so 135 kms over three alpine climbs, with 4,500 m of climbing in total, and the final climb being 35 kms in length! I had a strong ride and finished 793rd out of only 10,134 finishers and was just outside the top 500 for the three climbs!
Clearly age brings improvement!
I’ve also ridden the Prudential Ride London 100 mile event twice (2015 & 2016), Velothon Wales (2015 & 2016), both of which were closed roads events, and then a number of other more local events including the Jurassic Beast 100 and the New Forest 100.
Finally I’ve had a number of cycling holidays in the Alps where I’ve seen stages of the Tour de France and ridden over a number other Alpine climbs, including the Cols de Gallibier, Telegraphe, Glandon, Croix de Fer, Madeleine, Joux Plane, Joux Verte, Petit St Bernard, Cormet de Roseland and the iconic Alpe d’Huez.
In total, last year I rode in excess of 10,000 miles and will surpass that milestone again this year, baring illness or injury. If I’m not in the office, I’m probably out on the bike or fulfilling my role as secretary of our local cycling club.”
Well done James! That’s an incredible number of miles and some very large mountains you’ve conquered. We wish you lots of luck for your next event!