FATHER and son team Phil and Paul Hibbert have returned to Shetland from a truly gruelling cycle challenge in the Pyrenean mountains completing the route from Hendaye, on the Atlantic, to Cerbere, at the Mediterranean, in just 98 hours and 30 minutes.
Rather than coping with unrelenting heat while climbing up some of the most famous mountain passes featured in the Tour de France, the pair had to struggle against torrential rain, cold winds and, on one occasion, heavy snow.
Crossing the Pyrenees in less than 100 hours is a classic among cycling enthusiasts.
The Hibberts are raising funds to help the visually impaired people of Shetland and are in the process of setting up an isles-based Vision Resource Centre, which will be based at Market House.
They set off from the Atlantic surfing resort of Hendaye on the Spanish border on 14 June in heavy rain showers.
Phil said: “Fears of coping with the heat and sunstroke soon became unfounded as we hit torrential rain and cold during the 113 mile first day.
“Damp in kit, if not in spirit, we set off the next day in cool but sunny conditions to climb the Col d’Aubisque, a col which will be included in this year’s Tour de France.
“Any thoughts of leaving the bad weather behind were soon shattered as the rain and cold returned in earnest on the long climb up to the Col du Tourmalet, another famous climb featuring in this years ‘tour’.
“The last three kilometres of this was cycled through heavy snow, bringing regrets about all the winter gear left in drawers back in Shetland.”
In fact, they experienced the worst week of weather in the Pyrenees in June anyone could remember.
“We could console ourselves that this was meant to be a challenge at least, although the thought that the Land’s End to John O’ Groats route was probably bathed in sunshine did cross our minds,” he added.
The last few hours of the route on the final morning did bring some sunshine. After just over 98 hours they reached the small resort in the fishing village of Cerbere.
They said they would like to thank James and Tez of Marmot Tours for providing essential back up in the support van, with food, water and begged and borrowed extra layers and hats.
They added that they were grateful to those who have sponsored them so far. Anyone wishing to help raise funds for Vision Shetland can still do so by sending donations, to Vision Shetland, Market House, 14 Market Street, Lerwick or to Phil Hibbert South House, Vidlin.
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