Mont Ventoux cyclo

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A view from the valley

A view from the valley

On Saturday Jonny and I tamed the Giant of Provence, Mont Ventoux. And actually, it wasn’t that bad. 

I admit I’d been dreading it – I’d lost a bit of focus since the Fred Whitton – but on the day we had a tough, fast ride, amid some fantastic scenery, and in the end we placed respectably in the top 200 (out of 483 finishers). My finishing time was 5hrs 20 – a ‘gold’ medal, according to the organisers, although this was meaningless because the time barrier was set so low (7hrs 21 for gold) that all but a handful of the finishers achieved this. (NOTE: the organisers have since amended the gold time to 6hrs 15 for the Master category).

Every 2 years the Ventoux ‘cyclo’ switches its route between the two options for climbing the mountain: a longer 170km route that climbs via Bedoin and Chateau Reynard; and a shorter 144km route that goes up the steeper side via Malaucene. We did the latter. Here’s the Ventoux profile, which I climbed in 1hr 35.

Mont Ventoux profile (via Malaucene)

Mont Ventoux profile (via Malaucene)

Yes, it was long, but compared to the Whitton’s climbs it was very gentle, and there were plenty of sections where you could back off the top sprocket. I’m sure I rode it quicker in an effort to stay on Jonny’s back wheel, but I didn’t over-cook it, unlike the guy I passed vomiting at about 6km from the summit. 

The descent was eye-wateringly fast. There was no time to even spot Tom Simpson’s memorial. Once we made it down to forest level we formed a small 5-man grupetto for some fast-paced through-and-off. Before long we were joined by others, and became a larger group that pelted along the smooth, hot roads to the second feed station. 

Following the second feed the big group fragmented, and after a quick toilet break we latched onto the back of the tail end. There were two modest climbs to go: on the first one I felt strong and rode off the front; on the second I started to fade, and ended up losing Jonny, who finished in a small bunch a couple of minutes before me. 

All in all a fine ride that I would definitely repeat. We lucked out with the weather too: earlier in the week I heard the head-winds had been brutal, while the day after we had rain, a sure recipe for freezing temperatures on the mountain.

One Response to “Mont Ventoux cyclo”

  1. Big Eeasy June 1st, 2009 at 5:49 am

    nice

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