Ventoux Gearing!

bikeman66

Senior Member
Location
Isle of Wight
Hi all,

This may be a "how long is a piece of string" question, but I'd appreciate any advice you guys can give.

I'm off to Provence in late April / early May for a week of cycling. As part of the trip, I'm planning a ride up Mont Ventoux. I'm not looking to get up there in record time or anything like that, but just want to have the satisfaction of climbing the Bedoin route and then enjoy the long descent on the other side.

My bike has a 34 tooth small chainring and a 11-25 cassette. I know pushing any gear depends on the ability and fitness of the rider, but do you guys think a 34-25 lowest gear is still a bit suicidal and would you opt for the safety of a 28 tooth large sprocket (or even larger)?

Your thoughts and advice will be most welcome.
 

MrPie

Telling it like it is since 1971
Location
Perth, Australia
Absolutely no harm shoving on a 27. Did the Raid Pyrenean a couple of years ago and only used the 27 a couple of times, but I was glad it was there as an option.
 

TheDoctor

I've seen things you people wouldn't believe
Moderator
Location
Stevenage
Get the largest cassette you can - I see nothing wrong with a 32T sprocket, or bigger if it'll fit.
Ventoux is relentlessly long, and very steep.
Do beware of the weather though - April might be a little early. I was there in November this year and the road over the top was blocked. Good job, really, as the top 6K would have been most character-building...
Nov2014 pictures from phone 045.jpg


Do try and take in the Nesque gorge, though. It's a glorious and very quiet ride.
Nov2014 pictures from phone 058.jpg
 
If you want a comfortable climb, go for a 32T big sprocket. Make sure your rear mech can handle a dinner plate like that though. If it isn't up to the job, you'll end up dragging the hanger into your spokes, or breaking the chain.
 

jdtate101

Ex-Fatman
I'm riding Ventoux in June as part of a week in the mountains that ends with the Marmotte, and shall be packing a 28 on the rear. Whilst it's easy enough to do 10% climbs in this country on a 34/25, they just aren't long enough to give you an idea of the fatigue that you will suffer on such a long climb if you're slightly overgeared. When I did the Marmotte in 2013, I used that 28 quite a bit and was glad of it, especially at the end of the day on Alpe D'Huez.
 

nickyboy

Norven Mankey
Depends entirely on what kind of fitness and weight the OP has. Without that can't really offer meaningful advice other than to say that sticking a lower gear (like a 28 or 30) on and not using it is no problem. Not sticking it on and needing it may stop you enjoying what should be an amazing experience.

FWIW, unless you're a lightweight guy who does a fair bit of proper climbing I'd stick a bigger gear on, even if its just for insurance
 
OP
bikeman66

bikeman66

Senior Member
Location
Isle of Wight
Get the largest cassette you can - I see nothing wrong with a 32T sprocket, or bigger if it'll fit.
Ventoux is relentlessly long, and very steep.
Do beware of the weather though - April might be a little early. I was there in November this year and the road over the top was blocked. Good job, really, as the top 6K would have been most character-building...
View attachment 76308

Do try and take in the Nesque gorge, though. It's a glorious and very quiet ride.
View attachment 76309
Thanks for the tips matey. I'll look up the Nesque gorge. I've got a few circular rides planned, taking in Pont du Gard, Arles, Nimes and Gordes etc, but tips from people who have experience of good places to ride are really welcome, thanks.
 

tommaguzzi

Über Member
Location
County Durham
I did Alpe huez in 1 hour 19 mins on 34/26 a couple of years ago aged 54. I had trained hard for 4 months and and weighed just 11st 4lbs i was fitter than I have ever been since I was a teenager and I still wished I had put a 27 or a 28 on the back. On those extremely long tour climbs normal people need all the help they can get.
 
OP
bikeman66

bikeman66

Senior Member
Location
Isle of Wight
Following on from all your advice and suggestions, it seems sensible to consider fitting a cassette with a lower gear. On the technical side, my rear mech measures about 75mm between the centres of the guide pulley's. Would I be right in assuming this is a short cage mech, and if so I'm presuming it will accommodate a 28 tooth large sprocket without too much trouble (25 tooth currently on the cassette). If necessary will this mech work OK with a 30 tooth, or is there the likelihood of complications? I'd prefer not to have to fork out for a new long cage mech, new chain and cassete, so if it is likely that fitting anything bigger than a 28 will cause issues I'd sooner have reliability on the climb rather than an easier gear that may potentially have mechanical consequences.

As always, any advice will be very gratefully received.
 
I'm riding Ventoux in June as part of a week in the mountains that ends with the Marmotte, and shall be packing a 28 on the rear. Whilst it's easy enough to do 10% climbs in this country on a 34/25, they just aren't long enough to give you an idea of the fatigue that you will suffer on such a long climb if you're slightly overgeared. When I did the Marmotte in 2013, I used that 28 quite a bit and was glad of it, especially at the end of the day on Alpe D'Huez.
Did the Marmotte the same year; I'd cycled a 38t or 39t in this country (regularly up some of our so called hard climbs) but I changed the 39/53 bianchi for a 50/34 compact and I'm glad also it was campy I got a 29t on the back :thumbsup:
 

tommaguzzi

Über Member
Location
County Durham
A short cage derailer arm will be OK with upto a 30 rear but its best not to use the big/big little / little combinations if you do. 28 rear should be no problem at all.
 
OP
bikeman66

bikeman66

Senior Member
Location
Isle of Wight
A short cage derailer arm will be OK with upto a 30 rear but its best not to use the big/big little / little combinations if you do. 28 rear should be no problem at all.
Thanks for the advice Tommaguzzi. I figured the 28 would be straight forward enough, and I think I'll probably settle on that when all is said and done. Actually just posted this question in the "technical know how" section of this forum too.

Really appreciate your advice, thanks again.
 

Norry1

Guru
Location
Warwick
I'm doing an Alps tour this July (staying in Bourg D'Oisans) and we plan to drive down to ride the Ventoux as well. I have a 53/39 setup on my Giant Advanced TCR1 and have bought a 12-30 cassette for the same reason. Not tried it yet to see if it works - I have used an 11-28 with no problems.
 

400bhp

Guru
25 isn't suicidal by any means. I did Mortirolo, Gavia and Stelvio last year on a 25 tooth. Mortirolo was suicidal on a 25, but I didn't have a choice as it was the bike I had loaned. That was the hardest hour I have done on a bike.

In contrast, we completed the Stelvio the following day and a 25 was OK.

I understand Ventoux (relatively speaking) isn't that steep, however it's exposed so you have the wind to contend with.

Are you doing one ascent of Ventoux without carrying kit? If the answer is yes then I think you'll be fine. If it's no then I'd go for a 27 or 28.

However, in balance, for the sake of £20-£30 I'd get a cassette that has a 28 tooth sprocket.
 

nickyboy

Norven Mankey
25 isn't suicidal by any means. I did Mortirolo, Gavia and Stelvio last year on a 25 tooth. Mortirolo was suicidal on a 25, but I didn't have a choice as it was the bike I had loaned. That was the hardest hour I have done on a bike.

In contrast, we completed the Stelvio the following day and a 25 was OK.

I understand Ventoux (relatively speaking) isn't that steep, however it's exposed so you have the wind to contend with.

Are you doing one ascent of Ventoux without carrying kit? If the answer is yes then I think you'll be fine. If it's no then I'd go for a 27 or 28.

However, in balance, for the sake of £20-£30 I'd get a cassette that has a 28 tooth sprocket.
Just to personally give me some common denominator, how are you on Winnats Pass with the 25? I presume it's a compact too? I'm running a 34/25 lowest gear at the moment as my bike came with that cassette but I find Winnats unpleasant with that gearing. I'm interested in the fact you felt the Stelvio was OK on a 25 but maybe you dance up Winnats too!
 
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