There is no other event like it. When the organizers say it is the toughest one-day event of its kind, it is not just marketing hype ! And despite the suffering (see below), I can’t stay away.
I nearly abandoned TDMB on my first attempt in 2012. At the base of the final climb to Les Saisies, I stood shivering after catching a chill on the descent on the Cormet de Roseland. I was drained—I was broken physically and emotionally.
I hadn’t prepared for the challenge and had no idea what to expect of a body that hadn’t done any serious racing for more than 15 years. I dug way too deep on the Col de Champex and the Grand St. Bernard and paid dearly on the Petit St Bernard. The Cormet broke me.
Through tears, I called my wife and asked her for a lift back to Les Saisies.
To this day, my infinitely understanding wife, regrets what happened next. She talked me down from the brink of dropping out and told me I could do it. I got back on the bike and pedaled. Slowly. It felt like an eternity—and it was nearly an eternity—but I welled up when I saw my wife and daughter cheering me on as Les Saisies emerged in the twilight. I made it. I was far worse for the wear, but I made it.
My wife must have been relieved the following morning when I swore I would never, ever, under any circumstances, do anything like this again. I was done with the bike.
And yet, I returned in 2013. And 2014. And 2015. And 2017 (I broke my collar bone training for TDMB in 2016).
I love it and can’t stop going for the challenge of continually improving my finishing time.