Tuesday, 24 September 2013
Once more up Ventoux!
The day after our ascent from Bedoin a Mistral wind blew. Strong and cold from the North, but with blue sky and sunshine. Layers on and confined to the lower climbs to Malaucene, Suzette and then on to the Dentelles again, but this time to villages further in the Dentelles, Roque Alfric, Le Barroux with a big chateau, up and down through hidden valleys and vineyards, dripping with dark purple grapes, ready for harvesting. The wind was debilitating and we returned after 32 miles.
After porridge and banana, the usual breakfast, I set off at 8.30am, 40 minutes ahead of Ian, up the Gorge de la Nesque on a lovely sunny morning. I could see clouds covering Ventoux and it was still a little windy, but nothing like yesterday. Early lunch, ham baguette and coffee in Sault, with Ian, who caught me at the head of the gorge. I'd averaged 13mph and later 9mph, as it became steeper and felt good weaving in and out of the ravine.
Past the honey sellers and the lavender fields on the lower slopes, and then tucked in close to a young Belgian girl, being paced by her father, on her first ascent of Ventoux. A steady pace all the way up the much kinder ascent, even managing to pass them and two other cyclists, in my big chain ring for the last 3km before Chalet Reynard, where it levels off and contours gently round. Time for a quick coca cola and then the last 6km again, up to the top. Past the young Belgian girl again, now on her own, having dropped Dad at the cafe, past the memorial to Tommy Simpson, with only 700m to go. Strong winds pushing you back, so that I had to get out of the saddle at the last bit! But then that amazing feeling of having done it again, and didn't feel as tired as the last time. It is a much less difficult way up. Congratulated my new Belgian friend as she appeared shortly after, clearly exhilarated at her achievement. Really cold, but the clouds starting to blow over and the sun break through. Put on lots of layers and then the fabulous descent into Malaucene. Fairly straightforward. Good road surface, and not too steep, with only a few hairpins. Really fast descent, getting up to 37mph!
Strip off layers down in Malaucene ready for the ascent up to Col de Madeleine, via that beautiful road over to Bedoin. Fast descent into Bedoin, still feeling strong and enjoying the ride. Back at the campsite after 64miles, averaging 11.1mph, and 5hrs 50 on the bike. What a great day!