Gearing for Ventoux?

I'm attempting three climb of Ventoux in a day, my lowest gear is 26/39 - don't really want to change to a compact at the front, but I have a feeling this is too big a gear and I may need to spin a little more than grind.

Suggestions and advice welcome?
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Comments

  • gavintc
    gavintc Posts: 3,009
    I have a compact 34-50 and fitted a 12-27 cassette. I tried to keep 2 gears in reserve, just in case it got really steep. I managed it in 34-23, but it was not easy. My times were 1hr50 and then 1hr42 the following year. Gearing is really dependent on the strength of your legs and fitness. Good luck
  • dennisn
    dennisn Posts: 10,601
    While I have zero experience on Ventoux, I do know that it's a monster and I do have some experience climbing big mountains. A friend of mine did the 7 days Bike Tour of Colorado with a 39-26 the first year he tried it. He was not a happy camper and the next year he had a new bike and a triple. Much better. That said, well, what you propose can more than likely be done and I'm sure you'll get a few posts saying "hey, no problem".
    However, even if Ventoux is not all that steep(and I don't know that) I do know that you're in for a boat load of long climbing and at the very least a few really steep sections.
    Having extra gears is just plain smart and more than likely you will use them. I don't know how else to say it. Take all the gearing you've got(so to speak). You won't regret it.
    I've gone to a compact 33-25 or 27 for the big ones. Use them all at some time or another.

    Dennis Noward
  • dodgy
    dodgy Posts: 2,890
    I've never ridden it, but riding it in my armchair by using Wikipedia I can see that it has an average gradient of either 7.43% rising to 8.9% for the final 16KM or only 4.4% from the East which is apparently the easiest direction to tackle it from.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mt._Ventoux

    These figures almost certainly don't tell you the whole story, but for me, if they are perfectly accurate (again, possibly not) then a compact or double would be fine for me.

    I've often thought that UK climbs are more demanding in terms of equipment, look at Wrynose or Hardknott etc. Only a racing snake would get up those on a standard double, even though they are nowhere near as long as Ventoux.

    Dave.
  • andy_wrx
    andy_wrx Posts: 3,396
    You may be different, but I was overgeared with 36 x 27.

    It's not the steepness, it's the length and sheer unrelentingness of it.

    In the UK we have hills which go up and down, steeper, shallower, steep bit, flat bit, next steep bit, then maybe even a downhill bit before the next bit. Yes they're climbs, but you recover on the flat bits in between the steep bits.
    In France, if it says 8% for 15km, it means it climbs uphill steadily for 15km at an 8% grade - steady uphill the whole way with no flat bits to recover on.

    I was overgeared because I my confortable cadence meant about 8mph and grinding that out on a steady uphill for 2 hours with no break was bloody hard.
    Just about manageable, but if I'd had a gear or two lower it would have been far more pleasureable.
  • shmo
    shmo Posts: 321
    I took a 34-27 and used all of them though it was more of a case of taking in the experience rather than trying to set a good time. Not sure I'd be happy on 39-26, it does get quite steep at times (moreso than I was expecting) and that's not far off the gearing pros use to race up it. Then again when suffering it's all too easy to bump it down a few gears instead of struggling on but guess it depends what sort of experience you want.
  • Captain Fagor
    Captain Fagor Posts: 739
    I'm going out to that region in August, and if the weather is good and I'm feeling up to it, then I'll have a crack at des Cingles.

    Having ridden each of the three routes individually on previous occasions, I only managed to avoid the granny ring on the ascent from Sault, managing on 39 x 27. No doubt I will rely on my 30x27 again if ascending from Maulacene or Bedoin.
  • Anonymous
    Anonymous Posts: 79,667
    Yes, good advice given here....Ventoux is one of the toughest...it really is....I used a 30 x 24......and it felt good...especially the 10km section through the forest upto Chalet Reynard
    ...I would never manage on a 39/26...but thats me....and im very far away from any climbing god status...but as Andy says....8% means solid for Kms...and it maybe not sound steep...but the average gradient of Buttertubs is 6%...try telling someone that...

    If I could offer good advice....could you fit a 29 rear cassette?....

    P.s There was a big sportive from Carpentras on the climb when I did it...ther was around 500 riders going up it...I got overtook with 1 rider on the whole ascent...in my wee granny gear....the amount of carnage witnessed with guys on Doubles was amazing...they were stopping every 1/2km...and then weaving there way upfor another 1/2km?....most guys were on triples...and most of them were struggling...its a true killer climb..good luck.
  • nasahapley
    nasahapley Posts: 717
    Is it the 'Cingles du Ventoux' thing you'll be doing? I'd really like to have a crack at that sometime too.

    I went up Ventoux from Bedoin last year, it was the first big continental climb I'd taken on so I wasn't too sure what gears I'd need either. When I'm out and about in the UK, and feeling reasonably fresh, I'm happy to grind up 15%+ hills in 39-23 or thereabouts, because none of them are that long. For a 10% hill I'd probably be in something like 39-21 or 39-19. However, for the long 10% section through the forest up to Chalet Reynard I was very glad for the 30-23 I used for most of it, and if I do try for 3 ascents in a day I'd no doubt make good use of the 30-25 too.

    I'm not sure if using a lower gear does equal going slower either; I passed plenty of serious-looking folks struggling with standard doubles and I'm a fairly average climber. You may not need/want to use the same gears as I did, but is is easy to underestimate how gruelling a climb of that length is (especially with the summer heat), and it's always better to have a gear you don't need than to not have one you do!

    Whatever you go for, enjoy it, and let us know how it went!
  • dennisn
    dennisn Posts: 10,601
    andy_wrx wrote:

    It's not the steepness, it's the length and sheer unrelentingness of it.

    Just about manageable, but if I'd had a gear or two lower it would have been far more pleasureable.

    +1 that's what always struck me about Colorado, "unrelenting". That "gear or two lower" will have meaning for you after this ride.

    Dennis Noward
  • pneumatic
    pneumatic Posts: 1,989
    Of all the ones I have done (including Alpe d'Huez and Galibier), Ventoux was certainly the hardest (even in perfect weather). I had (and used) 34x27. Wouldn't like to try it on anything bigger x smaller than that.

    Obviously it depends on how good a climber you are (I am heavy and not particularly fit) but I guess if you are asking, you are concerned about it.


    Fast and Bulbous
    Peregrinations
    Eddingtons: 80 (Metric); 60 (Imperial)

  • stealthbike
    stealthbike Posts: 84
    Thanks for all the feedback guys, I think the consensus is, if I want to at least try and enjoy the experience, I'll need some gears in the bank.
    matching cassette I could find - i have Ultegra - was 27, not a great leap, so it may mean the 'compact' route needs looking at.
  • pdstsp
    pdstsp Posts: 1,264
    Just to reiterate whats been said - I did the Bedoin climb a few years ago (on a triple) and the middle section is seriously hard. For several kms leading up to Chalet Reynard the gradient is steep and unrelenting - there are no hairpins to grab a few seconds rest. The avearg for the climb looks easier because of the relatively easy bottom section and the not quite so steep section after Chalet Reynard - but by then you are knackered and it feels just as hard, and if the wind is blowing its in your face as well. If you are looking at doing the Cingles then I would recommend an easy peasy gear for when you have a bad spell (or a small motor!).

    Good luck.
  • greeny12
    greeny12 Posts: 759
    Blimey - I'm doing the Bedoin climb this September - after reading all this I'm seriously sh*tting myself now...!!

    For the record, I've got a 34/27 lowest gear, and I'm going to go with that because I won't fit a triple.

    Why do we do this to ourselves...?
    My cycle racing blog: http://cyclingapprentice.wordpress.com/

    If you live in or near Sussex, check this out:
    http://ontherivet.ning.com/
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  • nasahapley
    nasahapley Posts: 717
    greeny12 wrote:
    Blimey - I'm doing the Bedoin climb this September - after reading all this I'm seriously sh*tting myself now...!!

    For the record, I've got a 34/27 lowest gear, and I'm going to go with that because I won't fit a triple.

    Don't sweat it too much; it is a toughie but it's always going to be do-able if you've got the right gears and a modicum of fitness, not like some of the short but very steep stuff you find in the UK. I would have thought 34-27 would do for most folks, it is halfway between the bottom two gears on a triple after all! I'm hoping to get back over there myself in August, planning to go up from Bedoin and back via the Nesque gorge, which looks stunning.
  • storck
    storck Posts: 64
    Check out Veloventoux.com.the guy who runs it Craig advises compact gearing on the Ventoux that should be the best advise you will get,i have done Bedoin and Maulacene sides and as Richy said Bedoin side is a tough climb the forest section goes on for ever i used a compact 36/25 it was hard going,we aiso done few other routes out there where the compact was needed so good luck and enjoy.
  • Sfelt
    Sfelt Posts: 55
    34-27 every time 8)
  • John.T
    John.T Posts: 3,698
    The first 6K from Bedoin to the hairpin are almost big ring stuff. It is after that the problems start. The next 10K to Chalet Reynard are close to 10% average with sections at 13% and it can get rather hot and stuffy in the trees. Above Chalet Reynard it does ease off a little but is like an oven some days. If the wind is wrong it is murder. i have not done the other routes but after this one you will be glad of any low gears you can get. I really struggled on 39/27 for just one climb and was turned back at Chalet Reynard by the police. (2000 Etape du Tour. It was a bit cold that year)
  • SRS Events
    SRS Events Posts: 264
    Without a doubt it has to be a compact 50x34 using with a 12-27 on the back.

    Have a look at this advice http://www.montventouxwebcam.com/hints.html
  • dennisn
    dennisn Posts: 10,601
    SRS Events wrote:
    Without a doubt it has to be a compact 50x34 using with a 12-27 on the back.

    Have a look at this advice http://www.montventouxwebcam.com/hints.html


    Liked the statement he made "...you will pass people and people will pass you....".
    You have to go at a pace that YOU can maintain because the top isn't "just around the next bend". It's much further than you think. I recall seeing a sign once that said "Monarch Pass - 6 Miles" and thinking to myself, "hey, no problem, I,m almost there". Well, what seemed like HOURS later I did finally get "THERE". Never underestimate the mountain.

    Dennis Noward
  • SRS Events
    SRS Events Posts: 264
    Yes never ever underestimate the mountain :lol::lol::lol:

    I wonder do they have a record time for coming down the mountain on a bike. :?:
  • pneumatic
    pneumatic Posts: 1,989
    I remember the forest section for the fact that some helpful bunny had spray painted numbers on the road: 11, 12, 13, 14, 15. In my near delerium, I decided that these were indications of the gradient in percent (certainly felt that way). Of course, they were only the number of Kms passed.

    After Chalet Reynard, I swear that the road is concave, like a big satellite dish angled from the ground. At first, you feel great and then it just gets worse and worse.

    Then there is the optical illusion at the Tommy Simpson memorial where your brain tells you that the summit is within touching distance and your legs and lungs take issue with that analysis.

    It is a total bar-steward of a climb but, make no mistake, when you get to the top, you've earned that celebration.

    3 times in a day!? Non merci!


    Fast and Bulbous
    Peregrinations
    Eddingtons: 80 (Metric); 60 (Imperial)

  • weeve
    weeve Posts: 393
    sorry but can you lot help...

    Im an average cyclist - not heavy 70kg - is a 34-50 12-25 sufficient for most people? rather not go 12-27
  • richa
    richa Posts: 1,632
    weeve wrote:
    is a 34-50 12-25 sufficient for most people? rather not go 12-27
    Why?

    I'd say go with a 27 (or even a 28 ).
    Rich
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  • dennisn
    dennisn Posts: 10,601
    RichA wrote:
    weeve wrote:
    is a 34-50 12-25 sufficient for most people? rather not go 12-27
    Why?

    I'd say go with a 27 (or even a 28 ).

    I'm with RichA. Can't see any reason for NOT taking a 12-27. Take all you've got. You won't regret it. There is always a section where it will come in useful.

    Dennis Noward
  • weeve
    weeve Posts: 393
    thanks for the advise.
    my only concern is whether the 12-27 will run with the 34-50 and the regular derailleur? ..its campy 11 if anyone knows. One person on another post has said it will ....
  • Mossrider
    Mossrider Posts: 226
    I did it (from Bedouin) with a 36*25 on my old Bianchi and didn't really find it a problem, though I wouldn't have wanted any less teeth. As always an extra tooth or two is helpful (but you will then use it even if you don't need to). I'm a fairly average club rider, but perhaps have the advantage of living most of the way up a Pennine and so i do lots of hills.

    In fairness I probably picked a pretty good day. Go early, set yourself up with an hours riding to get there in order to get the rhythm sorted and enjoy (the descent is fabulous).
  • Mossrider
    Mossrider Posts: 226
    Just spotted that you're going to do all three ascents. Get the extra teeth. You'll use them...
  • I did it on one of Craigs hire bikes from Veloventoux.com, and thank god I did!
    I'm a reasonably fit but heavy (14 stone) rider and I was soon onto the 34x27 and very grateful for it, I paced myself and it took me just less than two hours, from Bedoin and the next day Malaucene.
    Like everybody else says there is no respite, no let up, it just grinds away, take it steady and you'll be ok.
    Good luck
    Julian