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Belgian man climbs Col du Tourmalet on space hopper
While Tour de France cyclists brave the Col du Tourmalet for money and fame, one West Flemish man climbed the notoriously long and steep mountain pass on a space hopper with little fanfare.
Also known as a hippity hop and by other names around the English-speaking world, a space hopper is a fun bouncy toy for kids, not a means of transport. But Glenn Valentin could not be stopped from hopping through the power of his legs up the 18.6-kilometre long and 2.1-kilometre high Tourmalet – the highest paved mountain pass in the French Pyrenees.
Why in God’s name, why? To raise money for Les Petits Princes, a Paris-based organisation that fulfils wishes of critically ill children.
“I’m a big dreamer myself, so it seems like an appropriate initiative to support,” the 29-year-old said. “I hope to lend them a hand with this stunt and also motivate myself to do a few more like it. I have a new adventure planned for August, in fact."
Valentin, who made his hop-climb last weekend, was a triathlete in his hometown of Ypres before taking off in 2017 to cycle around Morocco, Italy and Slovenia. He settled in France the following year, determined to make a living out of being an adventurer. This was his first of what he hopes will be many colourful stunts.
He started up the Tourmalet just before 5.00 with just an assistant in tow. He made good time in the beginning, he said, but slowed down steadily after the first few kilometres. “At noon, I had gone a good 12 kilometres,” he told De Krant van West-Vlaanderen. “That was when it started to rain, and a photographer from a local paper showed up. He followed me for about three hours and made a great video.”
The last two kilometres – the steepest of the climb – would prove to be painful. “That was really difficult, and I need two hours to do it in,” he said. “On top of that, the weather was really awful, cold and misty. I was in enormous pain in my buttocks and in my hamstrings and was also straining my neck, wrists and elbow. But the way I felt when I got to the top made it all worth it. I am super glad I did it.”
Photo: Quentin Top/Hans Lucas Collection/BELGA