I Cycled La Ronde du Marmotte Sportive for PERTHES ASSOCIATION because they helped my parents when I was a child

Posted by lisa on June 06, 2013 in Uncategorized tagged with
Carl Andrews - taken a few weeks after his first surgery.

Carl Andrews – taken a few weeks after his first surgery.

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Carl Andrews  is one of the unlucky ones, he had Perthes disease as a child but he has not fared well and although he has had two osteotomies, (one as a child and one aged 19)  three years ago he had a procedure known as debridement of the femoral head.  Carl is in constant pain and has regular cortisone injections to keep him going and takes pain killers every day – but that just spurs him on to spreading the word about Perthes disease at every opportunity.

Carl took part in a gruelling cycle ride to raise awareness of this little known condition that affects 1 child in 20,000.

His story follows:

Hmm, where to Start?? Ok, here goes! – I’ll briefly touch on my good deed for the day. On Weds the 3rd we awoke to find that the beautiful weather of the previous few days had been switched with the finest rain that Blightly has to offer. So torn with the prospect of hazardous riding conditions we decided to go do a recce of the route of the Marmotte. The drive was long, very long – and steep! Ridiculously steep!! All-in-all it took 5.5 hours to drive the route in the car. Anyhow, the bit I’ll briefly mention was the drive up the Telegraph, I saw a guy with his bike upside-down in the rain working on his bike. I pulled up the car and asked if he was ok – he was struggling with a mechanical issue. I pulled up as I had a tool box and Phil knew how to fix things. Between us, we did our bit to restore Anglo-European relations and continued on our merry way – what I didn’t realise was how ironic that little gesture was to become later in the week!

Right, back to La Rando Du Marmotte! Friday morning, woke up early everything was ready. Tyres – pumped, Energy food – packed, new cleats – fitted, clothing – laid out ready and then off we went. Fired up for the challenge we got to the start line only to be told that we needed to fit the lights that they had given us when we signed on! Grrrrr!, I thought that this was just some cheap tat that they threw in with our sample of energy gels and products – I didn’t realise that I needed them for the tunnels. Back we went, turned the tent inside out and found them, then back to start line – et Voila! We were off, 20 mins late, but still – we were riding the [reported] toughest cycle sportive route in the world! Not bad for the lad who was told he might not have been able to walk normally or do sports again, if I do say so myself! J.

Finally we got going. The ride was a flat road towards the dam at the bottom of Glandon. This begun the first ascent of the day a punishing 25k ride uphill towards the summit of Col Du Glandon. I felt really strong and maintained a steady rhythm on my heart rate winding through beautiful alpine woodland along the reservoir. Then the reservoir disappeared and the ascent kicked upwards until I hit a fork in the road and pushed the final kick into the summit of Glandon. Phew, that’s one down – easy! What could possibly go wrong?!?!

At the top it was time for a refuel and 5 mins rest. However, the checkpoint had no food or water left! Just coke! Photos taken, we pushed off to our downhill treat. A 35k descent into St Etienne. Beautiful. We passed the alpine sheep and tucked in and admired the ride. Then suddenly after 3k my rear tyre lost traction going downhill at 34mph (according to my Garmin GPS) and an almighty bang as it hit a rock. I don’t remember what happened next, but I came round to a French guy pulling me out of a ditch! Sh*t, I’ve crashed!!! Blood was running down my leg and I felt shaky. All I wanted to do was find my bike and get going again – all I could think was the charity money I had on my head!! Where’s my bike? – that had detached itself from my cleats? It was this point I saw it :-( sat in a crumpled pile in long grass several feet from me with my Carbon Fibre wheel snapped in half!! My gears were also snapped off :-( damn! Drat!!

A crowd had gathered round and wanting to get an ambulance. I couldn’t feel the pain, my adrenalin was taking care of that! Forget the ambulance. I need to get to a bike shop!! A few conversations later I had hitched a ride in a lorry with a bemused French (cheese I presume) delivery driver while he completed his rounds. Turns out he knew the manager of a local bike shop and got him to cancel his siesta to fix my bike. Several hundred pounds later I was going again :-). I set my Garmin for Valloire as I didn’t know where I was and shortly was climbing. Unfortunately though, it was the wrong mountain!! Damn, double damn!! Back down I rode to ascend the right mountain. Emergency pit stop in the village at the bottom of the telegraph and I was ready! This was the hill I was dreading most. I was low on food and drink but kept going despite feeling like the proverbial.

This climb was hard, it seemed steeper than all of the other climbs. I kept going – heart rate in zone 3, I can’t remember the guidebook saying that this was a never-ending hill – but my god it felt it. I remembered I had some ‘Emergency’ energy gels tucked neatly under my seat, so I popped them one at a time – then they were gone. I was beat, shattered and out of food. I stopped several times, to recover before pushing on again. All in all it took me 1 hr 57 mins to climb the mountain and I was pooped. Fortunately as I descended into Valloire I saw Sara, Debbie and Julie crossing the road. An exchange of several slurred words later I was passed an ‘Emergency’ coke – which felt great! Thanks ladies.

Right, that’s it day 1 over, or was it. As I got into the start line I collapsed from exhaustion and heat (and probably a bit of concussion). The next bit is a bit fuzzy, but I got taken to the hotel by the race organisers and came back to my senses after several energy drinks and food.

Boom – Sleep!!

Day 2, didn’t get much sleep as my shoulder was really hurting but decided to go for it anyway. I’d set myself a challenge and couldn’t give in – not in my make-up. Late to the start line, but by this point I was not bothered about a time, I just wanted to finish. The ride from Valloire was straight up to the Gallibier and I was no longer confident on my bike. I was achy, bruised and tired. But Puli Puli, I remembered from Swahili! and kept going. Phil Kindly agreed to stay with me as confidence was shot. The Galibier ride was tough, very tough. At the top I had about 30 mins break to re-fuel (didn’t want to repeat last night) and said hi to Julie, Sara and Debbie as they passed us.

Downhill from the Galibier can only be described in 1 word, horrible. My shoulder was in agony, despite popping some Tramadol it still hurt. 1 by one the Mercury team flew past, and slapped me on my ass (Thanks Chewy) shouting words of encouragement, which really helped. Half way down I decided I really needed to rest my Shoulder and called into a roadside café for a Cuppa J. The bemused look on the waitresses face as two guys in full lycra, race numbers and race bikes called in for a brew – mid race.

Brew drank, Gilet removed, arm warmers removed, Ibuprofen gel liberally applied to shoulders and away we go. 20k later I’m stood at the bottom of Alpe’D Huez surrounded by hundreds of other racers and crowds. The buzz was electrifying, so after a refuel I set off in 36 degree heat to climb the most famous climb that the TdF has to offer. ‘Good god its steep!!’ is what I first thought, this can’t last – but it did! For the 3 most pain filled yet rewarding hours of my sporting life. Every few hundred yards I had a dip in the melt water springs to cool down but kept going. 23 iconic hairpins later I’d done it. Wow, just time to climb next to the sign and raise my bike in salute to the cycling gods.

Many many thanks to all of the kind donations to The Perthes Association, if it wasn’t for them I would have honestly given in. Now to plan the next crazy challenge! Carl

Carl in Training

Carl now – in training !




Carl is also looking for sponsorship and on his Just Giving page he writes ” This charity has a great personal significance to me, you may have seen me walking around with my badge on that I wear everyday and wondered what it was for. The badge is to support the Perthes Association. When I was a child I was diagnosed with Perthes Disease and spent a large portion of my childhood in and out of hospital sometimes for months at a time, including 18 months in a wheelchair. The Perthes association helped my parents through this difficult time.

In adulthood I have had further complications caused by the disease and have had in total 10 operations so far. The specialists gave me a 50/50 chance of being able to run again when I was 19 and have dedicated my life to trying many different activities as possible before I cannot carry on being physically active. So far I have notched off Boxing, Car Racing, Motorbike riding, Horse Riding, Half Marathons, Cross Country Running, Ice Hockey, Rock Climing, Climbing the worlds highest stand alone mountain and now Cycling.

This July I will be taking part in La Ronde du Marmotte Sportive 2 day event over the toughest stage that the Tour De France has to offer.  While I am doing this I would love the opportunity to raise some money for a charity that has impacted my families lifes already. All of the money will go towards this wonderful charity, and personally speaking hoping that they find a cause for the disease – so I can keep on being active for as long as I can.”

Please support Carl in this event, tell all your friends about him and if you are on facebook or twitter please share this so that the effort he is making will help to raise awareness throughout the world !   http://www.justgiving.com/CarlAndrews45

La Marmotte GranFondo is the mother and father of all sportives cycling events. The route covers 174km of alpine cycling featuring the epic Col du Glandon and Col du Galibier. These mythical cols are among the most feared Tour de France mountain passes.

After an epic 5,180m of climbing, La Marmotte finishes with the tortuous ascent of 21 hairpin bends to Alpe d’Huez (1,880m), scene of many literally breathtaking finishes in Le Tour.



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