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Just cycled Mont Ventoux

curiumcurium Posts: 815
edited September 2010 in Tour & expedition
Just returned from climbing Mont Ventoux :D

I did Bédoin to the summit in 2 hours and 33 minutes non-stop. Not a spectacular time.

We drove up the Malaucène ascent on Sunday in the car as I thought it was way too hot although there was much less breeze. Started out from Bédoin this morning. The weather was warm but overcast and there was more of a breeze. I descended into Sault because my girlfriend wanted to see the lavender fields.

My thoughts on the climb from Bédoin; very challenging. Very early in the climb you hit a sequence of 9% gradients. I got very hot and consumed more water than anticipated. I had two bottles but had to throw an empty to my girlfriend to fill up and hand to me later. There was little breeze in the forest section and I was suffering from all the attention the flies were giving me. There were a lot of climbers today. Once you hit Le Chalet Reynard it actually gets easier (unless you're coming from Sault :lol: more on this later) in some ways as the gradient dropped to 7-8% until the last 0.5km which kicks up to 11%. After Le Chalet Reynard wind became a serious factor and while I'm not claiming it, I can see how the wind could cost 5-10 minutes from there upwards.
Plenty of photographers on the ascent giving out cards plus my girlfriend took some so I may upload shots when back in blighty.

On the descent to Le Chalet Reynard I hit 41 mph before chickening out and dropping anchor.

The descent to Sault from Le Chalet Reynard is a joke! Sections of it are uphill or flat which makes for a much easier ascent of Ventoux from this approach. In comparison, the Bédoin climb is non-stop uphill. I notice that there are no kilometre marker stones giving the distance to the summit and the current gradient. This supports my view that the ascent from Sault is not really one as such. You pretty much coast to Le Chalet Reynard with a few climbs before getting to Le Chalet were the real climb begins, think of it as a warm-up.
The ascent from Malaucène is for the hardcore, I saw several 10.5-11% sections which made the car suffer let alone cyclists. I may attempt this on Wednesday if the weather is not too hot but I may have to stop for breaks if I'm honest with myself. We'll see.

In summary I think the Bédoin climb is certainly achievable without stopping for a reasonably fit regular cyclist, although it is true that there is nothing in England that will prepare you. The Sault climb is achievable by all to Le Chalet Reynard I think.

Next year we're hoping to camp in the Cévennes so I may climb Mont Aigoual. Anyone done this climb?

Posts

  • ScrumpleScrumple Posts: 2,665
    great review - appreciated
  • AndsAnds Posts: 1,437
    Hee, hee, sounds like my first ascent of Ventoux too...from your girlfriend's point of view that is. I was the support vehicle, swapping water bottles, taking photos, etc. I hope you're now going to lavish her with gifts. :wink::lol:

    Enjoy your next ascent :)
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 79,667
    If you want to find out about Mont Aigoual, read The Rider by Tim Krabbe.

    In fact, everyone should read The Rider by Tim Krabbe anyway.
  • cakewalkcakewalk Posts: 220
    Did the Cingles End of May. What a great ride. Hope to do it again in a reasonable time.
    "I thought of it while riding my bicycle."
  • cakewalkcakewalk Posts: 220
    Did the Cingles End of May. What a great ride. Hope to do it again in a reasonable time.
    "I thought of it while riding my bicycle."
  • Buckled_RimsBuckled_Rims Posts: 1,648
    Good posting curium, BTW what is your gearing as I hope to go next year and I've only a standard 39/52 - 12/27 at the moment.
    CAAD9
    Kona Jake the Snake
    Merlin Malt 4
  • durhamwaspdurhamwasp Posts: 1,242
    Doing the Cingles in 2 weeks, cheers for the review
    http://www.snookcycling.wordpress.com - Reports on Cingles du Mont Ventoux, Alpe D'Huez, Galibier, Izoard, Tourmalet, Paris-Roubaix Sportive & Tour of Flanders Sportive, Amstel Gold Xperience, Vosges, C2C, WOTR routes....
  • storckstorck Posts: 64
    Well done in doing it,great ride have done it few times and going over nx week with Craig at Veloventoux,so no doubt will give it another go from Bedoin im hoping get 1.30 ish think Craig might need push me a bit at Chalet Reynard if that wind blows though its a killer...Cingles perhaps one day .
  • curiumcurium Posts: 815
    Good posting curium, BTW what is your gearing as I hope to go next year and I've only a standard 39/52 - 12/27 at the moment.
    I have a triple 50/39/30. For large parts of the earlier 9% gradient I was in the 30x28 sat down. There were 1 or 2 hairpin turns I stood for and then after Le Chalet Reynard I was alternating between the 39x28 and then having to drop to the 30x28 to recover. Towards the end of the climb I was really hanging on as the wind almost broke me so was sat down pushing the 30x28.

    I am considering repeating the Bédoin climb tomorrow instead of trying Malaucène as I think that having done the climb once there are sections certainly earlier in the climb on the 4-5% sections before you hit the 9% sequence where I could and should of pushed harder but as it was my first time climbing Ventoux or anything as big as it I was concentrating on ensuring I could finish and keeping my heart rate below 170 bpm as I'd read that allowing my heart to rise for extended periods would damage my chances of finishing.
    This time I may just go all out to beat my time although my girlfriend is not keen on driving the support car so I may have to purchase a 3rd bottle to carry in my jersey.

    For the record I weight 87kg and my bike is a Specialized Tricross with no flash bits fitted. I could probably get my weight down to 80kg with more riding and less beer & chocolate but I'm not sure I'd enjoy it as much although a 1 hour 20 min Ventoux time would be nice :)

    Also, do not be disheartened by the guys passing you at blinding speeds on expensive carbon bikes. Do not try and stay with them the first time you climb, just concentrate on finishing.
  • The ascent from Sault isn't too difficult. There are no downhill or level bits but the gradient is shallow. Even I managed it in 2.5 hours. I think Sault is a higher starting piont than the others.

    Mont Aigoual from the north side is quite a long drag, but I managed it this year on a bike with full camping gear. Again the gradient is quite shallow. Descending down the south side to Valleraugue gave me a 55 minute downhill :D , the first part of which was pretty fast. So I would say climbing it from the south side would be alot harder than from the north. It was also very windy on the top. Views aren't quite as spectacular as from Mont Ventoux.
  • curiumcurium Posts: 815
    The ascent from Sault isn't too difficult. There are no downhill or level bits but the gradient is shallow. Even I managed it in 2.5 hours. I think Sault is a higher starting piont than the others.

    Mont Aigoual from the north side is quite a long drag, but I managed it this year on a bike with full camping gear. Again the gradient is quite shallow. Descending down the south side to Valleraugue gave me a 55 minute downhill :D , the first part of which was pretty fast. So I would say climbing it from the south side would be alot harder than from the north. It was also very windy on the top. Views aren't quite as spectacular as from Mont Ventoux.
    I descended into Sault and it was definitly uphill after Le Chalet Reynard. The road immediately into Sault was uphill also so these would be downhill sections coming the other way. Those are the two are clearly remember as I was pissed off after a non-stop climb from Bédoin that I was having to do more climbing on my 'descent'.

    Cheers for the info on Mont Aigoual.
  • To add, I am told the Montagne de Lure close to Mont Ventoux is better than Ventoux itself. Not done it myself though.

    Ok, I'll have the two bits you mention, I'd forgotten them as they are very short and one is so close to Sault I didn't consider it part of the climb, if you see what I mean.
  • durhamwaspdurhamwasp Posts: 1,242
    curium wrote:
    I got very hot and consumed more water than anticipated. I had two bottles but had to throw an empty to my girlfriend to fill up and hand to me later

    How big were your bottles? 750ml?
    http://www.snookcycling.wordpress.com - Reports on Cingles du Mont Ventoux, Alpe D'Huez, Galibier, Izoard, Tourmalet, Paris-Roubaix Sportive & Tour of Flanders Sportive, Amstel Gold Xperience, Vosges, C2C, WOTR routes....
  • Buckled_RimsBuckled_Rims Posts: 1,648
    Thanks for the info about the gearing. I need a new bike! :wink:
    CAAD9
    Kona Jake the Snake
    Merlin Malt 4
  • cakewalkcakewalk Posts: 220
    Thanks for the info about the gearing. I need a new bike! :wink:


    I did the cingles with a 50/34 27/11. I was really out of shape but still managed it.
    "I thought of it while riding my bicycle."
  • Great review.
    I did the Bedoin route at the end of May, loved it, great rythm (Triple! - mainly at 30/25-28), hardly got out of the seat below the Chalet - after that was a totally different story.
    Was planning to do Cingles, and the way I felt I would have probably made it, but the wind was too ferocious. On the way through the forest a camper stopped on its way down and the driver told me that I would die if I went past the Chalet. Reports had the wind at over 60 MPH, not counting gusts! I was blown clear across the road and almost off the edge twice after the chalet, final hairpin I could not even turn the corner as the wind just hit me side on and I had to get off, turn the bike then get back on close to the wall. All this meant that descending on the malaucene side would probably have led to skin meeting rock and tarmac, probably at very high speed! The bike was safely stowed in the car at the summit so no descent even! As the trip was quite rushed I only had the one day available to actually ride the mountain. (The whole intention was to ride it before I was 40 - Birthday was Tuesday and I did the ride on the Monday!!). Left Bedoin at 7am and was only passed by two cars from St Esteve to the top, and one of them was my support driver wife.
    BTW - in terms of do-ability for regular cyclists - I was 112kg when I rode it, so realistically anyone should be able to do it as long ast they can manage a few hours in the saddle. Total ride time was 2Hrs 40mins; even without losing weight, I reckon on a calmer day, and now knowing the climb, I could knock about 1/2 hour from that - I am booked to head over first week of June for a whole week next year - expect to be under 100kg by then, and should still be producing the same if not more power so with calculations done, a sub 2hr ride would be a realistic target. Hopefully ride for a time on the Monday and ride for the Cingles on the Wednesday.
    If I can feel the pain in my censored , I mustn't be hurting my legs enough.
  • cakewalkcakewalk Posts: 220
    Great review.
    I did the Bedoin route at the end of May, loved it, great rythm (Triple! - mainly at 30/25-28), hardly got out of the seat below the Chalet - after that was a totally different story.
    Was planning to do Cingles, and the way I felt I would have probably made it, but the wind was too ferocious. On the way through the forest a camper stopped on its way down and the driver told me that I would die if I went past the Chalet. Reports had the wind at over 60 MPH, not counting gusts! I was blown clear across the road and almost off the edge twice after the chalet, final hairpin I could not even turn the corner as the wind just hit me side on and I had to get off, turn the bike then get back on close to the wall. All this meant that descending on the malaucene side would probably have led to skin meeting rock and tarmac, probably at very high speed! The bike was safely stowed in the car at the summit so no descent even! As the trip was quite rushed I only had the one day available to actually ride the mountain. (The whole intention was to ride it before I was 40 - Birthday was Tuesday and I did the ride on the Monday!!). Left Bedoin at 7am and was only passed by two cars from St Esteve to the top, and one of them was my support driver wife.
    BTW - in terms of do-ability for regular cyclists - I was 112kg when I rode it, so realistically anyone should be able to do it as long ast they can manage a few hours in the saddle. Total ride time was 2Hrs 40mins; even without losing weight, I reckon on a calmer day, and now knowing the climb, I could knock about 1/2 hour from that - I am booked to head over first week of June for a whole week next year - expect to be under 100kg by then, and should still be producing the same if not more power so with calculations done, a sub 2hr ride would be a realistic target. Hopefully ride for a time on the Monday and ride for the Cingles on the Wednesday.

    What day were you on Ventoux? I did it on 29th. Getting Slightly windy at end. However Report for 30th was BAD!
    "I thought of it while riding my bicycle."
  • It was the 31st. I had spent the previous ten days reading every weather report I could find, right up to the 25th it looked good, then the reports for the 30th onwards went MENTAL!
    I can fully understand why the Etape was stopped in 2002. Just bloody dangerous. If I had an option to ride on another day I would have I assure you.
    If I can feel the pain in my censored , I mustn't be hurting my legs enough.
  • cakewalkcakewalk Posts: 220
    It was the 31st. I had spent the previous ten days reading every weather report I could find, right up to the 25th it looked good, then the reports for the 30th onwards went MENTAL!
    I can fully understand why the Etape was stopped in 2002. Just bloody dangerous. If I had an option to ride on another day I would have I assure you.

    I think we were lucky to do it on the 29th. Started late (11:15 am!) so were pretty much last of the hill. Bike was getting flicked about a bit on the top of the decent.

    Good luck next time. Cannot wait to do it again.
    "I thought of it while riding my bicycle."
  • curiumcurium Posts: 815
    Cycled to the top of Mont Ventoux again. Did Bédoin again and cut 11 mins off my time. New PB of 2 hours 22 mins. I really suffered this time. Used a bigger gear (39x28) until the very last bit but forgot to eat after Le Chalet Reynard and crawled over the last 2 km but didn't stop.

    Hills at home (Maze Hill, Shooters Hill and Westerham Hill are my training hills) will never seem the same again now that I know I can spend 70-80 mins on 9-10% slopes. Steepest hills at home are over in 10-15 mins.

    I think further significant improvement will need at least 5 kg weight loss ( i weigh 87 kg) and perhaps some climbing wheels if not a new frame.

    My bottles are 750mL I took a 1 litre bottle of Evian in my jersey this time so 2.5L in total.
  • rc856rc856 Posts: 1,140
    Excellent, well done. Good write up as well.
    Did Ventoux about 4yrs ago using 39x29. Only had about 400 training miles in my legs by June and suffered but made it up from Bedoin.
    In hindsight I really enjoyed it and the descent was amazing!!
  • notsobluenotsoblue Posts: 5,838
    Well done mate, and thanks for the write up! How fit would you say you were? What prep did you do?
  • curiumcurium Posts: 815
    notsoblue wrote:
    Well done mate, and thanks for the write up! How fit would you say you were? What prep did you do?
    I have a 16 month old daughter and a house that I'm doing up so I certainly don't have a structured training program. Since spring I've been cycling to and from work when the weather and other commitments allow. That's 12 miles each way with 2 hills. I also did the Surrey 100 (which was hard) and the Suffolk 100 (not hard). When I have a free Sunday I try and cycle to Box Hill and back which is 40 miles each way and includes 1 decent climb in each direction. I also did London to Brighton with some mates.
    Since last summer I've managed to lose 7 kg.

    I think I could be better with a structured program to improve cardio and lose weight. Anlot of the guys passing me on the climb didn't appear to be pushing significantly bigger gears but did have a higher cadence so that's something I'm going to try and work on.
  • Just did Ventoux for my 40th birthday, from the Bedoin side. Warmed up with a 1 hour 20 minute ride from the hotel in Gordes, before filling bottles up and heading straight for the top. Took me 2 hours 8 minutes though, had been suffering with a chest infection for several weeks and was still coughing up green goo, but I had planned and paid for the trip months before (plus treating myself to a new bike for my birthday!) so wsn't going to miss it.

    Well, I really suffered but didn't stop, speed sank to 5mph once or twice. Climbed it on a Basso Astra with 50/34 - 11/28 (guess which one got the most usage!!) Drank 2 bottles on the way up but didn't eat anything else. I hope to go back sometime soon when I am in better shape, cos I know how much time can be made or lost on a climb like this with just feeling strong / weak on the day. I now see why Tour riders can lose many minutes if they blow up early on the climb. Descent was fun - 55mph! :-)

    Went to the Alps the next day to do l'Alpe d'Huez, starting on the top of the Col de la Croix de Fer, where according to my Garmin I did 64mph (don't remember going much above 50 but then again I was too scared to look down!) Found this even harder on the lower slopes, but that probably has more to do with the gradients of the first few hairpins. I weigh in at 82kgs.

    I certainly don't agree that 'anyone can climb the Ventoux'. Any fairly well trained ameteur can ride it if they are well prepared, but certainly not 'anyone'. I admit I am amazed when some people say this, knowing now how it is. I too was passed by many cylists on the way up, but first of all a) some of them you pass a few km's later, by the side of the road b) they didn't all start from Bedoin c) Some people start and stop, over several hours, lunch in Chalet Reynard etc So you're not always comparing like with like.

    Well anyway, would love to do it again. The whole cycling camraderie and bike friendly spirit of France was such a welcome change after being spat and sworn at while out riding around the English countryside. Col du Galibier is next on my list!
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