Cinglé du Mont Ventoux (2011)
After a first experience with climbing the Mont Ventoux in 2010 (see below), the tone was set to explore way more. During our 2010 Mont Ventoux trip the goal for 2011 was set: La Marmotte and as preparation we decided to go for a week to the Mont Ventoux and try to conquer it a few more time.
There is an initiative of Christian Pic who created a kind of club to which you can subscribe if you qualify by riding at least 3 times the Mont Ventoux on the same day from all directions. As this dates from the era before Strava was used by everyone, you had to request a ticket up front. On that ticket you had to collect stamps during your journey in the local shop, the bakery, on the top, … I started the ride from Malaucène as we were a bit late, and coming from our B&B it would take yet another 20 minutes extra, and I wanted to start the ride. From Malaucène it was down to Bédoin, turn on the round about, get a stamp and ride up the same road I came down. Mentally that is very hard, as normally it’s the other way around. You ride up and are rewarded with a decent. Once up, you get a stamp, and go down to Sault. That decent does not go that smooth, as you have to keep pedaling to maintain the speed above 40 km/h. You end with a short steep climb. In Sault I made the mistake to not spend few minutes to eat, as I wanted to have a good time. After all, this was one of my biggest rides in my short cycling career. During the climb back up, I suffered a lot, as I did not eat enough during that day. When I reached the top, most people, that ride the Mont Ventoux once a day, were gone, so when I reach the 3rd time the top, I was almost alone. It was also late afternoon. It was quite emotional, something I never experienced before during a sports event. I went back down to Malaucène and finished the ride in about 7 h 31 minutes. Marie-Claire rode the Mont Ventoux twice. She started as well in Malaucène and continued with the Bédoin climb. After two climbs it was enough for her. The Mont Ventoux would never become a favorite of her 🙂
Tom’s official entry number is: 3568.
Upon arrival, the hosts of our B&B gave us a bottle of Champagne to celebrate this event. This generous gesture was very much appreciated by us. It was totally unexpected and fun to celebrate this achievement on our terrace.
After entering the club des Cinglés du Mont Ventoux, I rode Le Géant another 3 times during that trip, so the total is currently (2018) 9 times, and according to me it will stay like that for quite a while. The Mont Ventoux is so hyped, and some people keep on going back there, but we prefer to explore new regions and there are still so many mountains we can try to conquer.
The most famous and must ride climb according to many people. I will not judge if this side is harder than Malaucene or not, because that is a subjective decision. This climb starts just after the little round about and there you can find an “official” starting line. It starts first relatively gently, enjoy these kilometers, because after the famous sharp turn in Saint-Estève, it gets steep and it nearly stops till the top. This is after about 5.5 km. In the forest where the percentage is between 9 and 11% it’s hard. You will pass 7 turns where you cannot see more than 200 meters. Due to the forest there is no wind here, and during summer it will be very hot here. For us, twice in May, this was still acceptable. The part in the forest is about 10 km long and you most likely will hit a lot of flies.
After 14 km you are getting out of the forest and the climb is getting a little easier. Quickly after this you will see Le Chalet Reynard. Here at the right you have the junction with the climb from Sault. Although this part of the climb rides a bit easier I encourage you to stay calm as what follows is not to be underestimated. You will need to survive 4.5 km with an average of 8.5%. With the wind this part can be heavier than the part in the forest. 200 meter before the top you have a last hair pin and a short steep climb of 20%. After this the victory is yours. You made it to the top 🙂
The profile from this side is different than the one of Bedoin, but also heavy. I think I prefer this side above the one of Bedoin. You have few zones where it’s a little less steep which gives you some time to recuperate. Unless you increase your speed like must of us :). In the end the average climbing percentages are comparable, just like the total distance. So mathematically they are close to each other. If you take this side on your second or third day of the trip, with previous Mont Ventoux rides in your legs, it might feel harder. About 6 km from the top you have another chance to recuperate a bit. This is close to Chalet Liotard, a ski resort. From this side the top is not quickly seen, and sometimes I thought I was riding to a complete other direction, but at the end, you hit the top from the back side. There we had extreme wind during our 2010 trip (see below).
There is one very steep part (12%) of about 3 km. Here you can reach a very high speed, so be very careful. This decent ends with a hairpin turn.
Little longer than the other climbs, but mostly seen as the easy side, as the average is only 5%. However, the route joins the one from Bédoin 7 km from the summit. So the end is still not to be underestimated. For people that really like to decent, this side is a bit disappointing, as once you left the Bédoin track, you really have to keep pedaling to stay above 40 km/h. There is also a short, but steep climb just before the village of Sault.
This B&B was new back in 2011 and everything was great during our stay. The hosts (Ingrid & Jos) were very friendly and did everything to make our stay as pleasant as possible. Except for skiing we don’t tend to go back to the same region, but if we ever go back to this region, we definitely want to stay once more in this awesome location. During the years after our stay they bought a building next doors, so our evaluation is only for the main building. We had a big clean room with a private terrace. There was a round swimming pool with enough beds for the guests. The breakfast was good en twice a week there was a table d’hotes.
Malaucene is 16 km away and Bedoin is 28 away. Although Bedoin is not that far, the road to there is not a big one, so it will take you some time to get there.
While being in the area we visited Avignon and the well known Palais de Papes, which we visited and I think we spend just over an hour as it’s impressive and there is a lot to see and to visit. Close to it you also find the world famous Pont Saint-Benezet, on which we obviously sing the song while jumping on the bridge 🙂
Close to the B&B you find les dentelles de montmirail which are worth a couple hours of your time. There are several entry points and depending of which you select your hike will be harder or easier. You can go up to the dentelles themselves and walk next to them. While writing this (2018) I cannot recall how much time it took us. And as said above, I was not yet aware of Strava 🙂
First mountain ever (2010)
2010 – Back then in 2010 Marie-Claire already biked for many years and Tom was a soccer player. Around this time more and more friends of us started to bike and they formed the idea to go climb the Mont Ventoux. I had no clue what it was about, but would join as it was something Marie-Claire wanted to do as well. In preparation to this trip I bought my first second hand bike for only 120 euro. It was an old aluminium Trek bike without click pedals and the gears still on the slanted tube. At that time I had no clue what this bike would started to mean in our future lives.
During this trip we climbed the Mont Ventoux 2 times from Bédoin and 1 time from Malaucène. Especially the climb staring from Malaucène to the top will stay in our memories for ever. The weather was not that good, there was a lot of fog and the climb was even not officially open. We had to bypass 2 barriers. Here and there we saw some last snow left overs, but nothing much and thus safe to climb according to us. The wind on the top was very impressive. I remember that the last meters where you are in the open were insane. The wind grabbed me and from the right of the road and took me at least 3 meters to the left of the road. Luckily there were no cars. When we came down again from the climb it started to rain heavily. The water was crossing the road and brought dirt and mud from the sides. We both were very happy when we reached back our car where we could change clothes and warm ourselves again.
The condition in 2010 was nothing to be compared to what would follow in the next years, but still, for my first mountain ever, I was happy with the 1 hour 58 minutes from Bédoin.
During our stay we visited several small villages, and you have many more of these which are grouped in Les plus beaux villages de France. They often have cozy old city centers, small restaurants, nice bars and are fun to walk around.
With our group of friends we stayed in this villa with 4 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms. There was an unheated swimming pool, which was still quite chilly back in May. Only few of us used it. The house had everything we needed with a fully equipped kitchen, barbecue, terrace, ping pong table and space to park the cars. From the balcony you have a nice view on the environment.