I began to love cyling as a teenager when I borrowed my Cousin’s bike and cycle all around the Village where I lived. But the real change for me was when I went into ‘The Bike Shop’ in Falkirk in 1986 and looked up at all the bright colours and chrome that glinted in the sun. In those days there was no aluminium and carbon fibre, it was steel and soldered lugs that defined the quality of a bike.
How to Ride Mount Ventoux
Now normally my Strava feed reads something like;
- Morning Ride,
- Lunch Ride,
- Fahrt am Abend ( Pardon you Daniel Friebe),
- Groundhog day
- or maybe even Skating La Feclaz top ( That Thibaut Pinot gets aboot)
So last summer when the following rides started appearing on my feed, logged by three ‘real’ friends, albeit from different cycling circles, my interest was well and truly piqued.
No to mention it induced a huge spike in ride jealousy.
- Mad Dogs and Englishmen
- The Giant of Provence
- Mount Ventoux
Although there is only one degree of friendship separation, all three riders(that became four) are unbeknown to each other, yet they are now inextricably linked by a huge common invisible bond. They all rode the cycling Everest that is Mount Ventoux. All within a few weeks of each other last summer
This lit a fire of curiosity and wonder in my mind. Question that I had to ask the next time our wheels rolled, glasses chinked or in this case, INBOX’s pinged.
We’ve all seen it on the telly, but what is it really like? is it really that tough? What tips could they give if we were to do it?
So via the mediums of email, Facebook and Whats App I posed all the riders the same questions, to illicit and tease out their response of information that will hopefully help the you’s and me’s ride this bald beauty one day.
They have delivered in spades with wildly differing approaches, yet all capturing the ride, the environment and the moment.
Introductions first. The 3 riders that became 4 are as follows:
Firstly before we go any further lets discover more about this mystical mountain with a plethora of nicknames that create a sense of imperious menace: ‘Beast of Provence, The Bald Mountain or the Giant of Provence’
What is Mount Ventoux
For the un-initiated Mount Ventoux sit’s proudly in the south of France. Instantly recognisable to all cycling fans for it’s lunar-esque and barren landscape. The last 16K average 9% gradient. A fearsome climb, even for the Pro’s.
It’s steeped in cycling history. Notoriously as the resting place for the iconic British Legend Tom Simpson who collapsed, asked to get put back on his bike by fans then died half a mile from the summit whilst racing the 1967 TDF. His death believed to be caused by a combination of factors. Heat exhaustion, Stomach upset, alcohol and amphetamines.
More recently Ventoux hit the headlines in 2016 as the theatre for Chris Froome’s motorcycle induced crash which prompted his comedic, sans bike run through the crowds, as he awaited the arrival of his spare bike.
The Bald Mountain can be tackled from three routes:
1) South from Bédoin, the ‘classic’ route and the one the Tour De france use (21.5km long with an ascent of 1610 metres. Last 16k 9% gradient.)
2) Northwest from Malaucène, the quieter route, but equally as challenging( 21km with an ascent of 1570 metres).
3) East from Sault, The longest climbing but least punishing due it’s 4.4 % average gradient(26km with an ascent of 1220 metres).
Then again climbing it once just isn’t punishing enough for some folks. If you are radio rental you can always climb all three routes in one day and join equal mentalists in the Club des Cinglés de Ventoux (literally the Maniacs of Ventoux Club!). Easy peasy japaneasy. Only 72 km of climbing with 4300 meters ascent!! (gulp)