It’s fair to say that Paul likes a challenge. He loves setting himself goals and is determined and persistent by nature. When he was planning a way to celebrate his half-century, Paul was seeking something he could work toward, tick off that bucket list. And when he discovered there was a cycling tour company offering the experience to take on the iconic Col du Galibier in the Tour de France, he knew he found the challenge he was after. This stage is renowned for being the toughest. 6 years ago, when it was last included in the race, Cadel Evans famously lead the pace for the elite pack. He didn’t finish first that day, but the Australian did find himself at the top of the podium three days later.
So, having identified the opportunity to take on the most mythical Alpine summit from the Tour de France’s rich history, Paul set himself up with a training plan and started recruiting mates within the Invest Blue team to join him. To prepare for a ride that included more than 450kms with elevation of over 14,000 metres through some of the most iconic and challenging stages of the Tour de France; there was training to be done. The reward at the end of it all would be a guaranteed vantage point at the finish line for the Tour de France in Paris along the Champs Elysees.
Over a period of many months, across numerous locations throughout NSW and Queensland, the ‘boys’ (Paul Haslam, Steve Sewell, Ben Warren, Steve Fort, Rob Pollard and Chris Andersen) trained hard and did their best to prepare for the daunting ride ahead. They were fit. They were ready. And then they saw the steep terrain and second-guessed everything!
The first 2 days of riding were extremely hot. The first day’s ‘warm-up ride’ was a challenge, and a forecast of what was to come. “Day 2, climbing Mt Semnoz and dealing with the heat and cramps, was the hardest day I have ever had on a bike” reflects Paul. Day 3 was the day they had been preparing for, the Col de Galibier and Paul’s 50th birthday. Knowing that the 8 months of training were all for that day, there was a lot of trepidation on the night of Day 2. “To say we were a little apprehensive is an understatement!” says Paul. Fortunately, a good sleep and cooler temperatures on Day 3 set the team off on a good start.
Our ride started at the village of La Chambre first up was the incredible climb up the Lacets de Montvernier switch back – A big success in the 2015 TDF. Lacets is French for shoelaces, aptly named for the crisscrossing up the hill. A short ride to the Col du Telegraph followed by the famous Galibier.
Lacets was terrific, looking up at it you could not help thinking how can someone ride a bike up that. The climb up Col du telegraph was our first taste of people lining the road; they had been camping for days. Vans were set up with BBQ’s, deck chairs, music, beer, sausages, flags, banners, and kids giving us high fives; crowds were cheering and offering food as we rode past. The atmosphere was amazing and there was still a number of hours until the professionals would ride past.
Climbing Col du Telegraph, we were still unsure that we would be able to complete both Col du Telegraph and Galibier. The further we went, the more electric the atmosphere became. People were cheering and encouraging us all along; we started to really enjoy the challenge.
It was an unforgettable experience, and the six colleagues achieved something remarkable. There were tough days in the saddle with uphill climbs of thirty plus kilometres, sore muscles and perhaps a little French wine thrown in for good measure. And while the time in France went by in a blur Paul says once everyone was home, they could reflect on the enormity of their accomplishment.
The idea of reaching out to for others to join him on the ride is reflective of the way Paul approaches work too. His focus is on teamwork and everyone striving together to achieve the same goal. These are the guiding principles that first inspired him over 20 years ago when he founded Invest Blue and which continue to be integral to the business today.
Prior to moving into financial planning, Paul had been in the real estate industry and had found it be a fiercely competitive industry. With Invest Blue, he was keen to establish a more collaborative working environment. “I always wanted to be a small piece in a big pie rather than a big piece of a small pie. In my view, a robust business needs to be about the big picture and it has always been my intention to expand our business to create something that will last for generations to come. I think the measure of success is a business built by many, where individual egos are left at the door. All 80 of us of us at Invest Blue play a part in our success – we’re all about collaboration.”
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