The Assault on Mt. Ventoux

The first time we climbed “Le Geant de Provence” was in celebration of our 50th birthdays (and we all know that was a very long time ago)! We were riding from Sault to Vaison La Romaine on an Erickson trip and we chose to do the “easier” climb.  

Now we return with unfinished business. We had planned to climb Ventoux again 4 years ago on our retirement trip, but I had an accident in Amsterdam and we had to cancel those plans. This time, we climb from Malaucene, which makes the attempt much harder as the lower 8 miles average 9-12 percent grades. The last 5 miles aren’t much kinder. Why do we this again? Because it is there! (And 12 years later, who can remember the pain?)

The ride begins at 9:00AM. By 10:00AM, we have ridden through Bedoin and we get our first glimpse of the mountain. Only four hours to the top!

There is a giant communications tower on the top of the climb. That’s what you aim for as you are slogging up the hill. The French make it very easy to keep track of how much suffering you have left.

They place these tombstones/mile markers every kilometer just to make sure you know you are getting closer. At 11:00AM, the stoker decides to take an extended break.

She’s not on strike. Only her legs are.

The weather is perfect, and we have a slight tailwind on the ascent. By 12:30, we are at Chateau Reynard, which is where the tree line ends. Suddenly, we are in a moonscape with amazing views. That’s why you make this climb.

It’s hard to show how steep the road is. However, the communications tower is getting bigger.

And we are getting closer.

Here’s a good place to insert an artsy panoramic shot.

With 1/2 a mile to go, Eve is still smiling. Actually, that may be a grimace.

She doesn’t love heights.

Finally, at around 2:00PM, we go over the top.

There’s the tower, ready for its closeup.

The sweat-soaked Garmin tells the tale of the hard work.

According to Strava, around 75,000 people have recorded their times on Mont Ventoux. We are proud to report that over 74,000 have done it faster than we have. We average a blistering 3 MPH on the climb, which includes rest stops and photo ops. But we made it to the top. The screaming descent (fast, not Eve screaming to slow down) takes less than an hour, which includes a couple of stops to make sure the rims were not too hot to continue and a stop to chat with a couple from England on a Cannondale road tandem. We believe we are the only two tandems to make the climb this day.

And now, our post-ride rewards. Beer…

And ice cream…

Eve looks a lot happier now. But wait, there’s more. New jerseys!

Unlike those who rode their rented electric bikes up Mont Ventoux, we earned these. Today was a very hard day on the bike. We can check Mont Ventoux off of our list permanently. Of course, there is a third way to get to the summit…

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14 thoughts on “The Assault on Mt. Ventoux

  1. love reliving this through the pain of others, did it the first time on my 60th birthday, always enjoy your write-ups and pics

  2. Congratulations on cracking the bottom 1,000 (at 3 mph average)! I had no idea this was on your agenda and am truly impressed. Wish I could have been on the side of the road yelling “Allay, Allay!” to encourage you on. You are my hero(s).

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