Friday, 15 June 2012

Second Ascent and Nesques

Ventoux Vines
Bedoin, Mont Ventoux, Sault, Gorge de la Nesque and return Maybe a bit ambitious but a second attempt on Ventoux but this time from Bedoin. Up at 7am and off to the market in the village of Bedoin. A huge market right through the main street and off up side streets as well. Bought a massive string of garlic and a few pun nets of fruit- it"s the season for cherries and strawberries. Great market full of colour and enticing smells. But a quick tour around and back to the van, change and off cycling by 8.30am. A lovely morning after the wet afternoon yesterday. We set off together, even though I'd tried to persuade Ian to hang back for at least half an hour, but he couldn't wait to get going as well, and was soon off in the distance on the gradual climb up the first few kilometres. After a lovely start, we were soon climbing 9 and 10%, which never let up for the next 9miles. But I got into a good rhythm, and was making good progress up to the Chalet Reynard, where you get a little pause before the final climb up the limestone "desert", past the monument to Tom Simpson, and the Belgian monument. The last few miles seem to take forever, and are usually into the wind. Past the photographers, hoping you'll buy their snaps of you. You always feel amazing at the top, and freezing cold on the way down, smiling at the other sufferers toiling their way up the last ascent. A quick coffee at the Chalet Reynard and then a fast but rough descent all the way to Sault, with a brief pause to take a photo of the fields of lavender, which Sault is famous for. A sandwich and coke in a cafe in the square at Sault and chance to catch our breath. Tried a sirop de lavande cordial, which Ian thought was just sugar and water, but there was a strong taste and smell of essence of lavander too, with a welcome injection of sugar. Chance also for Ian to warm up. He'd taken 1hr 45 to the top of Ventoux, me 2hrs 32, so there was a bit of waiting around for him, which he part- filled with almost a second attempt to encourage me, but not quite to the top!
Gorse bushes in Ventoux
The downhill cycle through the Gorge de la Nesque must be the most thrilling ride. A gradual descent for about 12 miles at about 17 to 20 mph all the way, with the most amazing vertiginous drops off to our left. Hardly any traffic, because most are put off by the steep drop, and the low tunnels you have to go through, but what a fabulous ride! It makes all that slogging around in the cold at home, and the gym sessions all worth while! The remainder of the return through Flassan, land of cherry growing, is a gentle climb and then fast descent into Bedoin and home! 56miles and a blooming lot of climbing!!! Decided to eat in the restaurant on the campsite tonight, after the football match with France, currently 1-1. Campsite restaurant is very impressive for a campsite, with modern furniture and lighting, not the usual tatty, dirty stuff you often get on camp sites. Kate texted to say exams have gone well, so hopefully she can get her life back for a little while!

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