My ride up Mont Ventoux

Discussion in 'Road Cycling' started by Tony, Jul 9, 2003.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Tony

    Tony Guest

    On Monday, June 23, I climbed Mont Ventoux.

    Pictures can be found here: http://www.veloweb.org/ventoux/

    Because it had been over 95 degrees Fahrenheit the entire time I was in France, with some days over
    100 degrees, I conservatively selected the more tree shaded eastern road, which then joins up with
    the southern road from Bedoin at Chalet Reynard. These routes run together up the last 6 kms to the
    summit. It's these last kilometers that give the real impressions of the Ventoux- exposed to all the
    elements, above the treeline and riding through the "desert of stones".

    Although my choice meant a route that was 5 km longer than the other options, the overall grade
    especially on the early part of the climb was somewhat gentler. This suited me perfectly. I had two
    wishes, to ride the 26 km climb from top to bottom in a good rhythm without stopping and to enjoy
    the scenery and experience as much as possible. Both objectives were well met.

    In Carpentras, I stayed at the Comtadin, a 3-star that has been used by many teams when the Tour
    passes through. The owner mentioned that USPS stayed there in 2001 but that he doesn't offer up the
    hotel anymore for Tour teams or press because they were such a disruption to his normal business. He
    was a cyclist and a big fan, too. He gave me two pieces of advice- start up as early as possible to
    avoid the crushing mid day heat and pay out your early efforts slowly because you will need
    something at the end. I planned to follow both.

    The next morning in Sault, I stopped in at a small boulangerie for pain aux raisins, filled the
    bottle and off I went on the D164, starting around 8:30 am. The temperature was already around 70
    degrees. My wife and her parents would be having a quick breakfast in Sault and then looking for me
    up the road, following me up in our hire car. Can't imagine there have been too many riders who have
    had a Jaguar as a follow car, but hey, this was France and we were living in style!

    To me, one of the nicest things about Provence is how good the countryside smells. The air was
    clean, the sky was scrubbed blue with no clouds and you could smell the fragrances, or parfums as
    the French say, of lavender, thyme and all the other things that make this part of the region such a
    joy to travel through. I rode through some lavender fields and nearby cherry orchards as I made my
    way onto the early part of the climb.

    The D164 from Sault was in good condition, with the typical km stones along the way, marking the
    altitude and grade for each kilometer. This part of the route passed through a well-shaded forest
    of larch, beech and holm oak. The road rose gradually up the flanks of the Ventoux, with a few
    sections at around 6% grade. There are black and yellow snow poles to mark the edges of the road
    all the way to the summit, they are about 12 feet tall, so that suggests it gets pretty wild up
    here in the winter.

    Spinning up the road, enjoying the serenity of the morning and the pace of the climb, I only saw
    one other cyclist, on his way down. I could only imagine what time he woke up! The views that were
    only to the south early on started to open up in all directions as I approached the section that
    joined the D974 up from Bedoin and then headed towards the ski station at Chalet Reynard. There
    were a few cyclists stopped here for drinks and a breather before tackling the final awesome
    section of the mountain.

    It's in these final 6 kms where the real fun started. Out from under the shelter of the trees, the
    summer sun was beating down under a cloudless sky, even at this early hour. The grade here was now
    increasing noticeably and would get progressively steeper until the summit, and fatigue was playing
    a part as I had been climbing now for over an hour. These final kilometers are quite exposed and
    although I had taken off my cap and unzipped my jersey in the heat just a short while ago, I zipped
    up all the way in the face of the wind that was now blowing once I entered the desert of stones.

    On the road surface, the painted names from last year's Tour could still clearly be seen in the
    bright sunlight, with lots of support for French favorites Jalabert and Virenque and for some reason
    or another, Frederic Guesdon, not a noted climber but at least one fan felt he was worth a bucket of
    paint! Now I saw more cyclists descending, most were in windbreakers. There were a few stray cars
    going in both directions now and then, but altogether the experience was like having the mountain
    all to oneself.

    I passed the Simpson Memorial with 1.5 kms to go before the summit. My wife and her parents, being
    English, stopped to have a closer look. I took encouragement from knowing it was less than a mile to
    go but this last mile was well earned. This last bit got steeper, over 9%, and then I stood up to
    hammer out that last "sting in the tail" right before the summit where it's close to 20% for 100
    meters or so, but it was such a good feeling to sense it was almost over that before I knew it I had
    arrived at the top of the Ventoux.

    There were some French vendors setting up some market stalls near the small stores at the summit and
    they cheered anyone who had ridden a bike up, shouting "Bon courage!" and clapping us on the back as
    we passed. I talked to one of the men and he was a bit surprised when I told him I was an American,
    but he commented I was lucky to have such a fine day for my ascent. I heard French, German and Dutch
    spoken at the top from the 8 or 10 other riders who had made the climb, and were milling around,
    enjoying the views and trying to stay out of the wind. Most took turns handing their cameras to
    other riders for summit shots.

    The road on the north side down to Malaucène had been freshly resurfaced. The stark contrast between
    the jet black road, the white stones and the blue sky was striking. I stopped off at the viewing
    table to admire the fine views towards the Alps before flying down for 21 kms of pure cycling heaven
    on a gorgeous, sinewy ribbon of black asphalt. No ripples, no sand or washouts in the corners on the
    outside of hairpins, and as grippy as velcro.

    Bombing down that perfect road on a perfect day, I actually laughed out loud, I was enjoying it so
    much. I pulled my cap down tight because the wind was blowing pretty hard at the top and I was
    touching 50 mph on the descent. There were no guardrails and some pretty wild exposure if you made a
    mistake or picked a bad line. The views were fantastic on the top and then gradually the roadside
    became more wooded but still with great cliffs and turns and then the temperature warmed noticeably
    until I wheeled into the village of Malaucène about 35 minutes after leaving the summit.
     
    Tags:


  2. Arous

    Arous Guest

    Wow...I hope to make that journey one day myself! Thanks for sharing the story and the
    pictures...Grand, just grand!

    Cordially, Arous

    "Tony" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:[email protected]...
    > On Monday, June 23, I climbed Mont Ventoux.
    >
    > Pictures can be found here: http://www.veloweb.org/ventoux/
    >
    > Because it had been over 95 degrees Fahrenheit the entire time I was in France, with some days
    > over 100 degrees, I conservatively selected the more tree shaded eastern road, which then joins up
    > with the southern road from Bedoin at Chalet Reynard. These routes run together up the last 6 kms
    > to the summit. It's these last kilometers that give the real impressions of the Ventoux- exposed
    > to all the elements, above the treeline and riding through the "desert of stones".
    >
    > Although my choice meant a route that was 5 km longer than the other options, the overall grade
    > especially on the early part of the climb was somewhat gentler. This suited me perfectly. I had
    > two wishes, to ride the 26 km climb from top to bottom in a good rhythm without stopping and to
    > enjoy the scenery and experience as much as possible. Both objectives were well met.
    >
    > In Carpentras, I stayed at the Comtadin, a 3-star that has been used by many teams when the Tour
    > passes through. The owner mentioned that USPS stayed there in 2001 but that he doesn't offer up
    > the hotel anymore for Tour teams or press because they were such a disruption to his normal
    > business. He was a cyclist and a big fan, too. He gave me two pieces of advice- start up as early
    > as possible to avoid the crushing mid day heat and pay out your early efforts slowly because you
    > will need something at the end. I planned to follow both.
    >
    > The next morning in Sault, I stopped in at a small boulangerie for pain aux raisins, filled the
    > bottle and off I went on the D164, starting around 8:30 am. The temperature was already around 70
    > degrees. My wife and her parents would be having a quick breakfast in Sault and then looking for
    > me up the road, following me up in our hire car. Can't imagine there have been too many riders who
    > have had a Jaguar as a follow car, but hey, this was France and we were living in style!
    >
    > To me, one of the nicest things about Provence is how good the countryside smells. The air was
    > clean, the sky was scrubbed blue with no clouds and you could smell the fragrances, or parfums as
    > the French say, of lavender, thyme and all the other things that make this part of the region such
    > a joy to travel through. I rode through some lavender fields and nearby cherry orchards as I made
    > my way onto the early part of the climb.
    >
    > The D164 from Sault was in good condition, with the typical km stones along the way, marking the
    > altitude and grade for each kilometer. This part of the route passed through a well-shaded forest
    > of larch, beech and holm oak. The road rose gradually up the flanks of the Ventoux, with a few
    > sections at around 6% grade. There are black and yellow snow poles to mark the edges of the road
    > all the way to the summit, they are about 12 feet tall, so that suggests it gets pretty wild up
    > here in the winter.
    >
    > Spinning up the road, enjoying the serenity of the morning and the pace of the climb, I only saw
    > one other cyclist, on his way down. I could only imagine what time he woke up! The views that were
    > only to the south early on started to open up in all directions as I approached the section that
    > joined the D974 up from Bedoin and then headed towards the ski station at Chalet Reynard. There
    > were a few cyclists stopped here for drinks and a breather before tackling the final awesome
    > section of the mountain.
    >
    > It's in these final 6 kms where the real fun started. Out from under the shelter of the trees, the
    > summer sun was beating down under a cloudless sky, even at this early hour. The grade here was now
    > increasing noticeably and would get progressively steeper until the summit, and fatigue was
    > playing a part as I had been climbing now for over an hour. These final kilometers are quite
    > exposed and although I had taken off my cap and unzipped my jersey in the heat just a short while
    > ago, I zipped up all the way in the face of the wind that was now blowing once I entered the
    > desert of stones.
    >
    > On the road surface, the painted names from last year's Tour could still clearly be seen in the
    > bright sunlight, with lots of support for French favorites Jalabert and Virenque and for some
    > reason or another, Frederic Guesdon, not a noted climber but at least one fan felt he was worth a
    > bucket of paint! Now I saw more cyclists descending, most were in windbreakers. There were a few
    > stray cars going in both directions now and then, but altogether the experience was like having
    > the mountain all to oneself.
    >
    > I passed the Simpson Memorial with 1.5 kms to go before the summit. My wife and her parents, being
    > English, stopped to have a closer look. I took encouragement from knowing it was less than a mile
    > to go but this last mile was well earned. This last bit got steeper, over 9%, and then I stood up
    > to hammer out that last "sting in the tail" right before the summit where it's close to 20% for
    > 100 meters or so, but it was such a good feeling to sense it was almost over that before I knew it
    > I had arrived at the top of the Ventoux.
    >
    > There were some French vendors setting up some market stalls near the small stores at the summit
    > and they cheered anyone who had ridden a bike up, shouting "Bon courage!" and clapping us on the
    > back as we passed. I talked to one of the men and he was a bit surprised when I told him I was an
    > American, but he commented I was lucky to have such a fine day for my ascent. I heard French,
    > German and Dutch spoken at the top from the 8 or 10 other riders who had made the climb, and were
    > milling around, enjoying the views and trying to stay out of the wind. Most took turns handing
    > their cameras to other riders for summit shots.
    >
    > The road on the north side down to Malaucène had been freshly resurfaced. The stark contrast
    > between the jet black road, the white stones and the blue sky was striking. I stopped off at the
    > viewing table to admire the fine views towards the Alps before flying down for 21 kms of pure
    > cycling heaven on a gorgeous, sinewy ribbon of black asphalt. No ripples, no sand or washouts in
    > the corners on the outside of hairpins, and as grippy as velcro.
    >
    > Bombing down that perfect road on a perfect day, I actually laughed out loud, I was enjoying it
    > so much. I pulled my cap down tight because the wind was blowing pretty hard at the top and I
    > was touching 50 mph on the descent. There were no guardrails and some pretty wild exposure if
    > you made a mistake or picked a bad line. The views were fantastic on the top and then gradually
    > the roadside became more wooded but still with great cliffs and turns and then the temperature
    > warmed noticeably until I wheeled into the village of Malaucène about 35 minutes after leaving
    > the summit.
     
  3. Saltytri

    Saltytri Guest

    Very nice narrative! I climbed it on 6/24 from Bedoin and again on 6/25 from Malaucene. Your story
    very nicely sums up the unique experience of doing such a famous and beautiful ride. Thanks!
     
  4. Tony

    Tony Guest

    great story "Tony" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > On Monday, June 23, I climbed Mont Ventoux.
    >
    > Pictures can be found here: http://www.veloweb.org/ventoux/
    >
    > Because it had been over 95 degrees Fahrenheit the entire time I was in France, with some days
    > over 100 degrees, I conservatively selected the more tree shaded eastern road, which then joins up
    > with the southern road from Bedoin at Chalet Reynard. These routes run together up the last 6 kms
    > to the summit. It's these last kilometers that give the real impressions of the Ventoux- exposed
    > to all the elements, above the treeline and riding through the "desert of stones".
    >
    > Although my choice meant a route that was 5 km longer than the other options, the overall grade
    > especially on the early part of the climb was somewhat gentler. This suited me perfectly. I had
    > two wishes, to ride the 26 km climb from top to bottom in a good rhythm without stopping and to
    > enjoy the scenery and experience as much as possible. Both objectives were well met.
    >
    > In Carpentras, I stayed at the Comtadin, a 3-star that has been used by many teams when the Tour
    > passes through. The owner mentioned that USPS stayed there in 2001 but that he doesn't offer up
    > the hotel anymore for Tour teams or press because they were such a disruption to his normal
    > business. He was a cyclist and a big fan, too. He gave me two pieces of advice- start up as early
    > as possible to avoid the crushing mid day heat and pay out your early efforts slowly because you
    > will need something at the end. I planned to follow both.
    >
    > The next morning in Sault, I stopped in at a small boulangerie for pain aux raisins, filled the
    > bottle and off I went on the D164, starting around 8:30 am. The temperature was already around 70
    > degrees. My wife and her parents would be having a quick breakfast in Sault and then looking for
    > me up the road, following me up in our hire car. Can't imagine there have been too many riders who
    > have had a Jaguar as a follow car, but hey, this was France and we were living in style!
    >
    > To me, one of the nicest things about Provence is how good the countryside smells. The air was
    > clean, the sky was scrubbed blue with no clouds and you could smell the fragrances, or parfums as
    > the French say, of lavender, thyme and all the other things that make this part of the region such
    > a joy to travel through. I rode through some lavender fields and nearby cherry orchards as I made
    > my way onto the early part of the climb.
    >
    > The D164 from Sault was in good condition, with the typical km stones along the way, marking the
    > altitude and grade for each kilometer. This part of the route passed through a well-shaded forest
    > of larch, beech and holm oak. The road rose gradually up the flanks of the Ventoux, with a few
    > sections at around 6% grade. There are black and yellow snow poles to mark the edges of the road
    > all the way to the summit, they are about 12 feet tall, so that suggests it gets pretty wild up
    > here in the winter.
    >
    > Spinning up the road, enjoying the serenity of the morning and the pace of the climb, I only saw
    > one other cyclist, on his way down. I could only imagine what time he woke up! The views that were
    > only to the south early on started to open up in all directions as I approached the section that
    > joined the D974 up from Bedoin and then headed towards the ski station at Chalet Reynard. There
    > were a few cyclists stopped here for drinks and a breather before tackling the final awesome
    > section of the mountain.
    >
    > It's in these final 6 kms where the real fun started. Out from under the shelter of the trees, the
    > summer sun was beating down under a cloudless sky, even at this early hour. The grade here was now
    > increasing noticeably and would get progressively steeper until the summit, and fatigue was
    > playing a part as I had been climbing now for over an hour. These final kilometers are quite
    > exposed and although I had taken off my cap and unzipped my jersey in the heat just a short while
    > ago, I zipped up all the way in the face of the wind that was now blowing once I entered the
    > desert of stones.
    >
    > On the road surface, the painted names from last year's Tour could still clearly be seen in the
    > bright sunlight, with lots of support for French favorites Jalabert and Virenque and for some
    > reason or another, Frederic Guesdon, not a noted climber but at least one fan felt he was worth a
    > bucket of paint! Now I saw more cyclists descending, most were in windbreakers. There were a few
    > stray cars going in both directions now and then, but altogether the experience was like having
    > the mountain all to oneself.
    >
    > I passed the Simpson Memorial with 1.5 kms to go before the summit. My wife and her parents, being
    > English, stopped to have a closer look. I took encouragement from knowing it was less than a mile
    > to go but this last mile was well earned. This last bit got steeper, over 9%, and then I stood up
    > to hammer out that last "sting in the tail" right before the summit where it's close to 20% for
    > 100 meters or so, but it was such a good feeling to sense it was almost over that before I knew it
    > I had arrived at the top of the Ventoux.
    >
    > There were some French vendors setting up some market stalls near the small stores at the summit
    > and they cheered anyone who had ridden a bike up, shouting "Bon courage!" and clapping us on the
    > back as we passed. I talked to one of the men and he was a bit surprised when I told him I was an
    > American, but he commented I was lucky to have such a fine day for my ascent. I heard French,
    > German and Dutch spoken at the top from the 8 or 10 other riders who had made the climb, and were
    > milling around, enjoying the views and trying to stay out of the wind. Most took turns handing
    > their cameras to other riders for summit shots.
    >
    > The road on the north side down to Malaucène had been freshly resurfaced. The stark contrast
    > between the jet black road, the white stones and the blue sky was striking. I stopped off at the
    > viewing table to admire the fine views towards the Alps before flying down for 21 kms of pure
    > cycling heaven on a gorgeous, sinewy ribbon of black asphalt. No ripples, no sand or washouts in
    > the corners on the outside of hairpins, and as grippy as velcro.
    >
    > Bombing down that perfect road on a perfect day, I actually laughed out loud, I was enjoying it
    > so much. I pulled my cap down tight because the wind was blowing pretty hard at the top and I
    > was touching 50 mph on the descent. There were no guardrails and some pretty wild exposure if
    > you made a mistake or picked a bad line. The views were fantastic on the top and then gradually
    > the roadside became more wooded but still with great cliffs and turns and then the temperature
    > warmed noticeably until I wheeled into the village of Malaucène about 35 minutes after leaving
    > the summit.
     
  5. Jma3131587

    Jma3131587 Guest

    Excellent story. Something about riding where legends are made keeps you spinning.
     
  6. John Spann

    John Spann Guest

    Tony wrote:
    > On Monday, June 23, I climbed Mont Ventoux.
    >
    > Pictures can be found here: http://www.veloweb.org/ventoux/
    >
    <SNIP RR>.
    >
    > Bombing down that perfect road on a perfect day, I actually laughed out loud, I was enjoying it
    > so much. I pulled my cap down tight because the wind was blowing pretty hard at the top and I
    > was touching 50 mph on the descent. There were no guardrails and some pretty wild exposure if
    > you made a mistake or picked a bad line. The views were fantastic on the top and then gradually
    > the roadside became more wooded but still with great cliffs and turns and then the temperature
    > warmed noticeably until I wheeled into the village of Malaucène about 35 minutes after leaving
    > the summit.

    Bravo, Tony, bravo.

    I'll be in France in Spring '04. Probably not a good time to climb M. Ventoux, but thanks for the
    good read.

    John
     
Loading...
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
Loading...