Boris bike to France and back again for Teddington man

This Is Local London: Bikers: Matt Winstone, Rob Holden and Ian Laurie Bikers: Matt Winstone, Rob Holden and Ian Laurie

A Teddington man who took a Boris bike to scale a Tour de France landmark in a day returned it with just 22 seconds to spare.

Rob Holden, 46, joined friends Ian Laurie and Matthew Winstone in grabbing the bike from New Kent Road in Southwark at 3.58am on October 26.

They paid the £2 daily hire charge and, with the bike in the back of a van, drove to Mont Ventoux – the most daunting peak on the Tour de France.

The bike was returned at 3.57am the next day, just in time to avoid the £150 Transport for London fee for going over the 24-hour limit.

Geologist Mr Holden called the mountain “awe-inspiring” but said the 6,000ft climb up the mountain pushed him to the limit.

He said: “It was far more painful than I had anticipated. I wanted to keep up my side of the bargain so I suppose that’s what spurred me on.

“If I went back on a Boris bike I don’t think mentally I could do it again.

“If I went back on a road bike with the right gears, which I plan on doing next year, then I would give it a go.”

Filmmaker Ian Laurie, from Kingston, said: “The only real thing we could do was see if we got the fine or not.

“I never for one second thought that we would be that close.

“We were the last vehicle that was allowed on the Euro Tunnel going back. Then it was 10 minutes late.”

The trio had to contend with motorway traffic, unfamiliar roads and of course the gruelling 6,000ft climb up Mont Ventoux.

Mr Holden wrestled the 23kg bike up the mountain, dubbed “a god of evil” by French philosopher Roland Barthes, in just under three hours.

The friends also beat their goal of raising £2,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support, gaining more than £6,000 of donations.

Mr Laurie said: “The charity thing was very much one of the reasons for doing it. It would be a waste not to raise money.”

Mr Holden added: “My father had cancer about three years ago. Macmillan was an ideal choice.”

Visit justgiving.com/rob-holden1/eurl.axd/433bd028c8ede54dafbe60c1940fbae8.

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