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Mt Ventoux

Discussion in 'Touring and Adventure Cycling' started by 3narf, 9 Nov 2016.

  1. 3narf

    3narf For whom the bell dings


    We're off to Provence next year and I'd really like to climb Mt Ventoux.

    Is this a ridiculous proposition for a 50-yr-old of some ability but middling fitness? Are there mountains nearby of similar evocativeness / evocativity to which I need to limit myself, err, to?

  2. bianchi1

    bianchi1 Veteran

    There are three road routes up. 2 are tough, from Bedoin and Malaucene while the way up from Sault is (relatively) easy. It does rise up a bit for the last 6 k but if you take it steady its OK. That said if you are unlucky to pick a windy day its somewhere I wouldn't go near.
    mjr likes this.
  3. 3narf

    3narf For whom the bell dings

    Many thanks! Insider experience counts for a lot. It'll be August so probably quite hot. I'd try pick a day when it's not too windy...
  4. gavroche

    gavroche Getting old but not past it

    North Wales
    In August, it should be hot so I would advise you to do it early in the morning. I did it , at least up to Chalet Renard as it was too windy after that, 2 years ago, age 64, so you can do it. You are not racing so take your time and enjoy it. I had to stop a few times on the way but so what?
    3narf likes this.
  5. bianchi1

    bianchi1 Veteran


    While you are around that area, I highly recommend a ride up the Gorges de la Nesque from Villes-sur Auzon. A lot easier than Mount Ventoux at between 3-6% incline but a stunning ride with amazing views.
    Last edited: 9 Nov 2016
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  6. bianchi1

    bianchi1 Veteran

  7. twentysix by twentyfive

    twentysix by twentyfive Clinging on tightly

    Over the Hill
    I did it from the Malaucene side this year. I'm in my 60's. Heat makes it tough.
    3narf likes this.
  8. oldfatfool

    oldfatfool Veteran


    lovely training ride.

    Depending were you are basing yourself you could easily incorporate the Gorges as a precursor to warm the legs or as a downhill climax from the Sault side (if for eg you start in Bedoin)

    Also from Bedoin or Malaucene is the col de Madeleine that is a short climb that will warm your legs.

    As mentioned Sault is the easiest (grade but a bit longer) Malaucene (imo) the hardest and possibly the most exposed to wind, Bedoin the hottest most airless through the forest. Bedoin I also found to be the most populated with both cars bikes and cyclists.

    The Sault and Bedoin route meet at the Chalet above which the exposure and gradient increase, it can be bright sunshine up to the chalet and thick freezing fog above, but if that is the case or if your legs don't fancy the slog to the summit then you can make it into a nice circular route descending via the alternative route and for eg completeing the circle via La Nesque.

    As for ability you should have no problems so long as you ride within your limits and don't get caught up with trying to catch the wheel of or fighting off other cyclists.
    3narf and bianchi1 like this.
  9. Simon_m

    Simon_m Über Member

    Morning. We did Ventoux this year as part of our coast to coast trip 3week trip. We started at Malaucene staying in a hotel just before you take the turning up the hill/mountain. I left at 6am in the middle of July, a week after all the crazyness during Le Tour on the mountain. There was only one other rider at that time. I guess it depends on fitness, we had been cycling for 2.5weeks already. (I'm 44)

    It is not impossible, in fact, it is pretty easy and enjoyable. I was worried sick the night before, hardly slept. The climb is steady with some almost flat parts. The second half is more constant. I had some good music to listen to too. I took a few bars which I ate and popped one gel towards the end when the grade got higher. I also drink a lot and went through two bottles by halfway. Luckily we had a support van and I filled up from him again. The other cyclist leapfrogged past me at that point.

    The majority of the climb is in the wood, some flies and butterfly's which pass you lol You don't get to see the top or the bare mountain till quite late on which I think, psychologically, is a great idea. Getting towards the top and one more cyclist comes up fast and takes me before I can catch up the other guy I was kinda pacing. There are a few cars and motorbikes about, a fast Porsche went up and down once.

    The road itself is very good quality and straight too, yes it has a few switchbacks, but it is not constantly bendy. I caught up the other guy near the top where the photographers are, I took him for the photo :smile:

    At the top the van joined me and I would say within half and hour of me getting up there, it started to get really busy with other riders and runners. The temperature was also picking up fast, and the wind was starting too. There didn't seem to be any on the way up - luckily.

    The way down is as fast as you want it to be. The road surface i found not to be as good as going up. It was bloomin' busy too with riders coming up, of all ages too Kids, old people and lots of what looked like, organised groups or tours. There may have even been a charity ride that day as some kids had numbers on. I did get confused on which which down to take at the junction.

    The road down when you reach the trees is very twisty, I thought myself lucky I was not coming up this way as it looked like it would be harder to get in to a rhythm. Again the road surface was lumpy and some great swtich backs. Of course, all the road markings, flags, etc etc were still painted on the road from the week previous.

    Cars coming up the other way are a pain as they overtake the slow cyclists. Most are considerate if you are coming down at speed - like i was, some didn;t know how to act and just got in everyone's way. I have to watch my GoPro video again, but I dont think I had to shout at many people. A few cyclists coming up were on the wrong side of the road at times which was very dangerous, as like I said, the road surface is pushed up by the tree roots, making the surface uneaven. A few cyclists cut the switch back corners too which is bad as they couldnt see me coming down till I was on them.

    Malaucene is a tourist shoot hole if I am honest. (we had just cycled through remote France seeing hardly any one though). Very commercial and full of bike shops. Found the launderette too!

    Provence is georgeous, we have been there a few times now, Aix is amazing and a good place to stay and cycle, we did this last Easter and I did some training around the mountain there, a lovely circuit with some nice climbs and descents. I would defo start from Malaucene though. There is a carpark at the bottom if you just want to go up and down. We cycled to Roussillon that day.


    NorthernDave and 3narf like this.
  10. 3narf

    3narf For whom the bell dings

    Brilliant, thanks for the info! It all helps.

    I know I can do it because I cycled from Nailsworth to Minchinhampton today! ^_^ Got to start somewhere.
    Dogtrousers and Simon_m like this.
  11. Simon_m

    Simon_m Über Member

    hmmm not sure where that is, but that is good (I guess lol) Too cold to cycle ;) Let us know how you get on and post pics. It is an amazing climb and achievement. One thing I got from it, and maybe others too, is that hey, if I can do this, then I can climb anything. It is a legend and when I get to a climb now, or if training, I just tell myself that if I can do Ventoux, then I can do this, so stop complaing! "shut up legs" lol. Music did help and I forgot to say in original post, that I did get emotional on the ride up. There was tears and laughter and a great sense of achievement, I hope you get too.
    3narf likes this.
  12. 3narf

    3narf For whom the bell dings

    I'm sure I will, it doesn't take much for me! :blush:

    Thanks for the encouragement. As long as the family holiday actually happens, I'll be doing the climb. Might as well make some money for charity as well.
  13. Simon_m

    Simon_m Über Member

    someone did it on a boris bike, so you should be fine :smile:
    3narf likes this.
  14. Shadow

    Shadow Über Member

    I like hills. I love Ventoux. This is the first year in 5 that I have, most disappointingly, not ridden it. If you use the 'Search' (top right corner) facility you will find plenty of threads about MV. Two comments I have made in previous threads:

    1.] IMO ventoux is not difficult. It is hard, but not difficult, IF:

    a) you are fit and like hills
    b) you don't pretend to race Quintana and Froome
    c) the weather gods are on your side, and
    d) you have good mental fortitude.

    Of these, I would quite possibly consider the most important to be d).

    2.] And a quote from my favourite cyclist philosopher (or should that be philosopher cyclist?), Paul Fournel. Ponder these lines quoted from the short article entitled 'Ventoux':

    The Ventoux is alone. It has command over no valley, it leads nowhere. Its only purpose is to be climbed.
    For the cyclist it is a riddle.
    You never climb the same Ventoux twice. Every cyclist has a memory of a glorious ascent.
    In the same way, everyone can remember those leaden days when, for no reason, the bike freezes, locked on the tarmac....a voiceless anguish enters.
    During these nightmare ascents, there are no longer any landmarks. Your eyes are glued to your front wheel, and its your guts that you're looking at there, without really seeing them.
    The Ventoux has no it-self. Its the greatest revelation of yourself. It simply returns your return fatigue and fear. It has total knowledge of the shape you're in, your capacity for cycling happiness, and for happiness in general. It's yourself you're climbing. If you don't want to know, stay at the bottom.

    Go and enjoy the ride and do not forget to post your experience here! @bianchi1's advice in post#5 is sound - a lovely ride.
    Last edited: 10 Nov 2016
    gavroche, L Q, bianchi1 and 1 other person like this.
  15. Captainwull

    Captainwull Regular

    I did it in July this year. It took me 2 hrs and 12 mins from Bedoin. I'm 57,overweight, disabled with 2 club feet, no calf muscle and can't walk unaided.
    If I can do it anyone can.
    Osprey, wintonbina, mjr and 4 others like this.