Today I checked off an item on my "Life List". I climbed one of the monuments of cycling - Mont Ventoux!
This mountain dominates the landscape here and is sometimes referred to as the Giant of Provence as it is so much higher than anything else around. The Tour de France and other cycling races often cross it's summit. The peak is at 1910 meters, whereas the house where we are staying is at roughly 180 meters. The route we took started in Malaucène and is 21km to the summit with an average gradient of 7.5% and sections as steep as 12%.
To say that the ride was tough would be an understatement. I have never climbed that far or for that long in my life. Near the top you could see your breath. We were lucky that there was no wind today although that meant there were clouds at the summit. In fact, there were times when the cloud mist was rolling up onto the rode in front of me.
The top of the mountain is bizarre. There are no trees and the landscape is covered in broken rock that looks as though you are on the surface of the moon. The clouds would come and go giving glimpses of the radar and satellite towers that sit at the top and views over the clouds into the distance.
Once I started the descent, the first 10km was freezing! I had to stop at a chalet about 6km down to get some hot chocolate to warm up enough for the rest of the trip. Once I got half way down, it was warm enough to really fly! I hit speeds of more than 60kph and had a blast bending into the turns and riding 21km without turning a pedal!
Congratulations to Linda, Steve and Frank (even if Linda had to shame Frank into finishing), who also made the summit today!