I really wanted to experience the giant of Provence Mount Ventoux so what better way than climbing it from all three angles. There is a recognized challenge for doing all three climbs in a day, Club des Cingles. A good idea but who needs the paperwork.
I set off a bit late waiting for the cloud at the summit to clear, subsequently the initial climb through the wooded area before the bald summit of white rock was boiling hot. 13 miles at 7% and a whole host of other riders on the road of all abilities, and plenty of cheering support relatives.
I ground my way to the top in a sedate 2hrs 9 minutes without stopping but disappointingly it was a full white out of cloud up top, it didn’t stop it being very busy with cyclists but I grabbed a bag of over priced biscuits from a stall and set off on the way down to Malaucene. A great road surface and superb views North once out of the freezing cold cloud, You definitely need a wind proof jacket round here, even on a 35 degree day. In town it was great to stop and let the brakes cool down and me to warm up watching the Tour with a coffee. Sneaking the biscuits out from under the table, some which were balls of white goo laced with peanuts were to die for.
Climb 2, in my opinion the best, great open views and a gentler gradient to the 6150 ft summit. This time at a nice picnic bench and watched the world go by, this side is noticeably quieter, some ladies on e-bikes were chasing their partners down the hills on normal bikes, I wonder if they beat them up. Once again the last section was a white out so but more wispy looking on the South side. 2hrs 20 for climb 2 which is exactly the same altitude gain, so considering my picnic my pacing was good so far.
I set off back down the first climb without stopping the drop to Chalet Reynard is fast an quite direct and I got back into the sun without too much shivering. A left turn here begins the long drop to Sault. This descent is now 17 miles, 5 longer than the others, a twisting ribbon through dense woodland not as scenic but very quiet. Its a small shock when after an open stretch of lavender fields its a small climb up to Sault centre. Boulangerie to the rescue for one very hot, hungry and tired climber with lovely baguettes, cakes and ice cold coke. Six and a half hours in and another good two hour climb to go, I started the final leg feeling good.
The long wooded climb was noticeably done a few gears up the block thanks to the lesser gradient and a touch of injected urgency. Out of the woods at Chalet Reynard and finally great views of the tower on the peak of the monster. Now the road was deserted, it was approaching 8pm and the final steep exposed section was tough. I passed a Dutchman at the Tom Simpson memorial and carried on to the final summit. Triumph at last and welcomed with fantastic views through the wispy cloud.
My new Dutch friend arrived and we appeared to be the only people mad enough to be still up here, he shared my joy and we took photos of each other. Now the final descent to Bedouin, the roads were deserted I passed Dutch and set off determined to enjoy the deserted roads to the full. This was brilliant fun and one of the maddest road descents I’ve done yet. The whole road was mine no cars and full kerb to kerb action for corner after corner. Rolling into town at base catching glimpses of the hill I’d conquered it was great to roll up to a pasta joint and order dinner and a beer. Now the food was very quick in coming and it arrived with beer number two…….just as Dutch rolled round the corner. Laughing I raised my glass to him, life in the old dog yet, what a day.