Le Geant de Provence: Ventoux challenge

Some say Mont Ventoux is the hardest of all the mythical Tour de France climbs and rightly so. The mountain achieved worldwide notoriety when it claimed the life of the great English cyclist Tom Simpson, who died here on July 13th 1967 from a combination of a stomach upset, heat exhaustion, alcohol and amphetamines.

As (almost) every year, in May we have escaped Paris down south to Ardèche to participate in the Trail des Gorges de l'Ardèche. This year I finally decided to take my bike with me there to tick Mont Ventoux off my bucket list the day before.

The half-official plan was to do the classic route from Bédoin (21.5 km, 1610 m D+), then descend to Malaucène and go back up again (21 km, 1570 m D+), and finally do the remaining Sault side (26 km, 1220 m D+) to qualify for a membership in Club des Cinglés du Mont-Ventoux. As usual though, life had other plans.

I had posted this as an official event for our Meetup Paris Cycling B-Group, and it turned out there were other tools who wanted to take up the challenge. The more the merrier!

We agreed to meet on Friday morning in Bedoin, and start our adventure from there, cycling up the most classic Ventoux route.

Here is what awaited us that day:

First 6 km were pretty easy, almost flat warm-up, averaging up to 6%.

Next 10 km through the forest average 10%. That's the toughest part of the climb.

Above the forest it gets (slightly) easier again - down to 7% average.

Final kilometres.

Photograph: Griffe Photos.

Moon landscape.

Tom Simpson's memorial.

Almost there now.


Me and the boys.

Views from the top.

Alps far in the background.

Last pics and time to ride down.

Descent was a fast one.

Photograph: Ventoux1912.

Back in Malaucene.

Strava activity:

To sum it up: we had perfect weather - sunny and warm, but not too hot, virtually cloudless sky for some amazing vistas, gentle breeze above the forest to cool us down without blowing us off the mountain.

And a really great climb too - steep but steady and meditative (which was helped by the rhythmic creaking of my bottom bracket). Unfortunately my back said no to cinglés, but hey, there is still next year!

Once we were ready to go back, we decided for whatever reason to get a longer and hillier, but more picturesque road back to Bedoin.

Strava activity:

Back in Bedoin, packing it up.