FRANZ KLAMMER 2016 BIKE CHALLENGE…VELDEN, AUSTRIA
Heather Mills, was invited by the world renowned former champion alpine ski racer and Olympic Gold Medalist, Franz Klammer, to join his annual "Tour de Franz", extreme bike challenge in Austria.
The “Tour de Franz” is a charity event that serves the Franz-Klammer Foundation and collects money for Carinthian families in need.
Heather, was amongst a collection of Olympic winners, world champions, friends and public personalities of Franz who all rose to the challenge.
For the first time ever in the history of "Tour de Franz” it was the weather that was going to be the biggest challenge of the day. Thunder and lightening pounded throughout the sky and torrential rain created pools of hazardous water on the road.
Undeterred however, the brave cyclists gathered outside the Schloss Velden am Worthesee in Austria on their bikes, their faces displaying signs of the mental preparations needed for the treacherous conditions ahead.
Some bikers, unprepared for the all day downpour, came clad only in summer biking gear, but Heather along with many others had pre-empted the conditions and had dressed suitably for the occasion.
At approximately 1015 the horn sounded and the cyclists set off, into the abyss of rain and cloud for the 50 km endurance ride.
The route followed, what would have normally been, a picturesque ride along the Worthersee lake, through the Austrian villages and Carinthian mountains, still had an atmospheric quintessential beauty about it, although much of it was shrouded in low level cloud.
Heather pushed through the harsh conditions for over 3.5 hours, battling the elements, eventually to see the end in sight, the Carinthian castle of Burgruine Taggenbrunn, 616 metres above sea level.
As Heather, Franz and the remaining wet clad cyclists, ascended the last hill, they finally crossed the finish line into the grounds of Burgruine Taggenbrunn Castle, which had laid on a welcome reception of ice cold champagne, music, delicious food, and most importantly a warm and cosy delightful room where the competitors could defrost.
“Although the distance was not as long as I have done during my training sessions, the extreme weather and the mental concentration needed, made the cycling conditions a real endurance test of strength and character. I am so pleased I was able to complete the entire challenge and in a good time too, as not everyone was able to finish.
I would like to thank Franz for his amazing hospitality and look forward to competing again next year”.