James Piccoli, one of Canada’s top cyclists, woke up Saturday at 3 a.m. and started his day with a bowl of spaghetti.
The 28-year-old Montrealer had a big day ahead of him.
His plan was to spend 12 hours cycling up and down Mount Royal via Camillien-Houde Way to see how many laps he could do.
In the end, Piccoli was in the saddle for 14 hours and 49 minutes and completed 100 laps, a feat no one else has ever accomplished.
Piccoli started out with a goal to raise $3,000 to buy personal protective equipment for people working in Quebec hospitals and seniors’ homes as they deal with the COVID-19 crisis.
But the fundraiser quickly picked up steam, and by the end he had raised $15,000 for the cause.
“This event exploded,” he said. “I was shocked. Clearly the cause touched a lot of people.”
Over the course of one day, Piccoli cycled 330 kilometres, with half that distance covering his repeated climb up to the summit of Mount Royal.
He told CBC News he was inspired by his girlfriend, a nurse at the Montreal Children’s Hospital, and her colleagues who were working 12-hour shifts.
He described how many front-line health-care workers in the province were dealing with a “crisis with the lack of masks and equipment.”
Piccoli teamed up with Groupe Laudie, a Montreal-based medical supply business, and launched his fundraising goal.
“If I can do something in my capacity as a cyclist to help raise money, I would be happy to,” he said.
Piccoli’s cycling day began at 4:30 a.m. and ended around 9:30 p.m. Of course, he took a few breaks in between bursts of effort.
Speaking on Sunday, Piccoli said he’s tired but grateful to those who supported him.
Friends and family came out to cheer him on and some fellow cyclists joined him for a few laps.
In 2017, Montreal nurse Marie-Claude Dumais was the first Canadian to complete the Everesting Challenge. She cycled up Mount Royal 80 times over 32 hours, conquering the equivalent elevation of Mount Everest (8,848 metres).