Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Climbing Mont Ventoux - Race Rest Day

We left our hotel on Monday's race rest day in bright sunshine to ride the famed Mont Ventoux. As the name suggests (venteaux is French for windy) this exposed giant mountain is known for dangerously strong mistral winds at this time of the year. We were lucky to only have moderate, but still strongish, winds in the last few km on the exposed moonscape section of the climb. It was freezing on top and during the descent it was all I could do to stop shivering so that I didn't set off a speed wobble. We descended well under control at around 70 kph, the pros rocket down at 90 kph +. Unfortunately, one of our guys had a front wheel blow out and he came down heavily and broke his collarbone, the ambulance was quickly to the scene and after a medical check at the hospital, he's back with us to finish the tour, albeit in the bus.
Our initial 54 km ride included a loop from Malaucene to Bedoin to Mont Ventoux and then back to Malaucene on the gorge descent. We then took a nice little 50 km ride back through some beautiful Provence countryside to our hotel. I took a stack of pics and these are a few to give you the picture.

"The Giant of Provence", dominating the surrounding countryside. The cloud on top looked ominous but apart from wind and cold, it was a good ascent.

Just outside of Bedoin at the 19 km to go mark. You can just make out the weather station on the summit on the section that looks like snow, in reality its a barren chalky moonscape.

Are we there yet? Nope, ....still 16 km to go! Damn!

OK, now the real climbing begins. Average 9% from 15 km mark to Le Chalet Reynard at the 6 km to go point.

A view of the forest on the lower slopes. The forest gives way to the famous moonscape near Le Chalet Reynard. 

The view from Le Chalet Reynard, and still 6 km to go. The slopes ease to 7% average from here but the wind picks up and it gets cold.

Darren and Bec at the Tom Simpson memorial with less that 1 km to go.

The Tom Simpson memorial, inside 1 km to go. Traditionally, many cyclists leave a memento at the site when they pay their respects. Simpson died at this point during the 13th stage of the Tour in 1967. He was the most successful British post war cyclist to race in Europe. An autopsy identified amphetamine and alcohol in his system. He was also severely dehydrated from a series of very hot days racing in southern France.

Are we there yet?.....yep, where on the top!!

For me the climb wasn't as hard as the two times I've climbed Tourmalet. The weather conditions were very cool and although windy on the final open slopes, it wasn't always a head wind.

1 comment:

  1. Well done Gumbles on getting there to the top - such magnificent country side again!
    Cadel did brilliantly last night on the first Alpine climb... Me-thinks Contador was foxing a little in the Pyrenees to give himself recovery time from falls for the Alps. take care, Shaz.x