Set off for breakfast in central square of Orange, with Ian Lamb (from Sunderland area), who had been sat beside me on the coach. Given our late arrival in Orange (0830) and the prospect of climbing Mt Ventoux, I decided to forego the chance to look round the Roman amphitheatre, and instead set off with Ian as far as Caromb (via Jonquieres and Aubignan) where Ian went off to Bedoin, and I continued to Malaucene. Both these towns are starting points for the climb of Mt Ventoux (Bedoin being favoured for Le Tour), but Malaucene (no easier a climb) avoided having to retrace my route. I stopped in Malaucene for coffee & cake, and struck up conversation with a group of four American cyclists. One of them was 85, and that year had become the oldest person ever to have completed the triple ascent (climbing from Bedoin, Malaucene and Sault) in a day. Amazing. From Malaucene the top is 21km, with a rise of 1600m. Max gradient about 12% so not too bad, and I was doing fine until about 4km from the top when it started to rain. Initially I thought it was just a shower so didn't don my waterproofs. Mistake, as it quickly developed into a crackingly violent thunderstorm, and when I stopped to put the waterproofs on I was already wet through. While stopped, a cyclist coming down asked if I was still going up, and shook his head in disbelief/pity when I nodded. The rain turned to hail, then back to rain so heavy it was like standing under a waterfall. The earth was being washed off the land, so the road was covered in pebbles and muck, making progress tricky. Eventually it eased a bit and I got to the top to find about 50 cyclists sheltering in a souvenir shop. Just a little below the summit is a cafe (Chalet Reynard), where I popped in for a warming drink and cake before continuing down, gingerly for the first couple of km as, although now dry, it was still thick mist at the top. About halfway down the sun came out and I started to warm up again. Bouncing off Sault, I stopped in Montbrun les Bains hoping for a pizza, but the baker was still making them! So I had a glass of OJ and a piece of cake in another cafe up the road. Then I had to negotiate my way through fairground rides & stalls that completely blocked the main road to motor traffic. Shortly after there was a stiff climb up through Barret-de-Lioure, then a fast descent to Sederon, where I had pre-booked the Hotel Gites le Serpolet. Unfortunately the hotel restaurant was closed, so after a shower & change I walked in to the village (about 10 mins) and had a well-earned two course meal with beer. Back to the Hotel and bed at 2250 after a long day!