Mont Ventoux from Bedoin

After a few days in the Alps I drove to Marseille Airport to pick up my wife and daughter before heading to our gite in Provence. The location of our gite is a bit ridiculous – not only in the foothills of Mont Ventoux, but you can actually see the observatory from the back garden. Fortunately Bedoin is a cute French town that happened to have its big weekly market today, much to the delight of my wife. Hey, if you can’t be good, be lucky!

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“Mont Ventoux? – I never realised.”

After a morning at the market and lunch back at the gite, our daughter needed an afternoon nap and my wife was keen to join her. Which leaved me with a couple of hours to kill … couldn’t have planned it better – time to climb le Geant de Provence!

Drawing on my experience from the Alps my intention was to stick to a manageable heartrate of 160ish bpm and take the climb at a steady rate. However, the lower roads through the forest were beastly with constant periods of 12%+ being the norm. I was massively under-geared with a 39 on the front and my biggest cog a 25 on the back so slowly churned my way up in the hot sun with my heartrate pumping far higher than I’d hoped.

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I passed a lot of riders on the way. Enough to naively make me think I was a half-decent cyclist. Then a couple of petits French riders flew up past me, both out of the saddle with tanned, stick-thin legs like a pair of fleeting sparrows. My slow, pedal-mashing, butter-churning technique was quickly brought back to reality. In the end I decided to let them go!

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The first 8 or 9 miles are a steep slog through the cedar forest, with the odd tempting glimpse through the trees of the observatory to keep the spirits alive. It was also baking hot, so I hung my helmet over the handlebars and tied a buff around my head to keep the sweat from pouring into my eyes. Rocking the wild ginger look!

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After 10 or so miles, the trees finally gave way to rough, scraggy rock. It quickly became a totally barren landscape with no respite from the sun. The only consolation was the mile markers counting down to the looming observatory.

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In the end I completed the climb in 1 hour and 50 minutes. I pushed it as hard as I could for such a prolonged assault, but riding solo it was sometimes difficult to stay focussed. Certainly a different experience to the last time I rode dressed as a bear!

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The descent was a different matter altogether. It took about 20 minutes flying by cars, motorbikes and cyclists on a satisfying rush back down to Bedoin for a well-earned dinner and beer. Overall it took less than two and a half hours to ride top to bottom – fairly non-intrusive for a family holiday so hopefully I’ll find time for another ascent or two this week …

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5 thoughts on “Mont Ventoux from Bedoin

  1. hilarydavies says:

    Two gingers by the pool – adorable! I almost wish I had not read that book you had about Tommy Simpson … it does make Mont Ventoux seem rather grim, though it was really interesting. All that barren rock – well done!

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