Friday, 26 October 2012

Mt Ventoux: the Beast of Provence à velo...allez allez

Brad again... On my bucket list of things to do on this extended vacation was to ride to the top of Mt. Ventoux, one of the more popular HC ("hors categorie=beyond category= REALLY LONG AND STEEP") mountain roads in France. When we were here last time in 2006 we elected to drive to the top of Ventoux as the temperature was hovering around 35C. So this time around it would be late October and a little bit cooler. Plus our friend Clayton was joining me for the ride!

On the very foggy morning of October 25th we loaded the bikes into our Ford Focus station wagon (sporty and spacious... Well actually not SO spacious and not really too sporty, but it did hold two bicycles) and headed off to the town of Bédoin where the actual ride would begin.

By the time we arrived in Bédoin, the sun came out and it was a beautiful autumn day. Forecasted temperature: 20C at the base of the mountain.

The obligatory roundabout photo!

Clayton and me in the parking lot. Can you see the top of the mountain looming in the background? The tall structure at the very top is our destination. What to expect? 1600 meters of climbing over 21kms... Kind of like riding to the top of the Malahat 5-6 times, but without ANY flat sections to rest on. I suppose we were nervously ready to ride.

It has very recently begun looking like fall here in Southern France and it made for awesome sights along the way. Okay, I didn't notice the trees at all until I saw this photo afterwards. My view was of the road. I did see that people had painted "Go Brad" in several spots and thought "That is so nice" until I saw other names too, like "Lance, Andy, Alberto and Frank" and realized that they were likely referring to that other Brad (Wiggins). I was inspired nonetheless. Unfortunately there were no "Go Claytons" painted anywhere.

Working my way to the top. The hardest sections are back in the forest, but this still seemed awfully difficult.

A couple of kilometres from the summit is the Tommy Simpson memorial, a British rider who, quite unfortunately, died while racing here in the 1967 Tour de France. Supposedly he was quoted as saying "Put me back on my bike" when he collapsed at this spot. Whether he ever said those words or not, people are drawn to this special place. Unfortunately, it also said to me that there was still two kilometres to go! "Shut up legs" to quote Jens Voigt, was all I was thinking.

We're getting sooo close!! Cool socks, eh!

Success at the summit! It felt REALLY great to finish the ride. Plus it's so contagious because everyone at the top is so happy to be there.

One final photo of the road marker at the summit. These are placed at every kilometre and display the distance to go and the average grade of each kilometre section. And we bought a mini version as a souvenir to bring home with us.
Next time: Tourmalet? Alpe d'Huez?

1 comment:

  1. Huge Congratulations Brad! Another check on the bucket list. Can't tell you how proud I am of your accomplishment on this famous mountain. YOU DID IT.