September 10th 2010
Climb 1 – Bedoin – Summit
Setting out from Bedoin at 07:13 having gained the first stamp from the Boulangarie on the main street we slowly headed to the roundabout, taking the right past the first official sign with the Tom Simpson plaque and across the start line. The first 6km to St Esteve are effectively freebies to get your legs warmed up, but once you hit St Esteve and take the hairpin turn, its into the forest for 9km of relentless 8-10% climbing. Given it was the first climb of the day and the legs were fresh, this climb wasn’t as demanding as many reports suggested, indeed, once you hit a rhythm in the easy gear the time goes quickly.
- We reached the Chalet Reynard with relative ease and called in for a quick coffee, once the toilet had been visited it was back on the road for the 6km to the summit. The gradiant lessens on this section, and it was a real boost to feel yourself getting closer to the top. The scenery is so fantastic on both sides, you often forget you are even cycling! A quick stop off at Tom’s monument just past the 1km to go marker and we had soon made our first summit. Quick stamp at the shop and a photo. 1st summit arrival time: 10:25 (3hr12m inc stop)
A lovely descent followed, not letting the bike getting away from us, we tried to stick between 20 and 25mph and kept the backside of the saddle, giving it a rest. We hit Malaucene at around 11.05am and again stopped for a coffee. Malaucene was buzzing with cyclists and had a great atmosphere. We also called into the super U market and bought a couple of litres of water and mixed it with energy powder we had pre-bagged up in our saddle bags.
Climb 2 – Malaucene – Summit
Leaving Malaucene at 11.45 after a nice 40 minute break the early part of the climb is smooth and not too demanding, once again getting into a rhythm things felt fine up until the 10km mark, it was here were things started to get tough with 4km of 9-10%, the legs were starting to be felt. Head down and plenty of energy drink got us to Chalet Liotard where we stopped off for a coke at around 13:30, setting back off for 14:10 the final 6km eased slightly until you get to “the wall” ahead, looking at the final 2km of the climb, you can’t believe you are going to be all the way up there with just 2 hairpin turns in between. Never the less at this point we werent giving up and ground our way to the top, 2nd summmit at 15:00 (3h15m inc stop)
Climb 3 – Sault – Summit
By far the easiest of the climbs on paper, at this point the legs were tired and you knew you had 3 hours cycling ahead, trying to put things aside and telling yourself to enjoy this last climb wasn’t too difficult though, and at small gradients good time was made on the ascent back to Chalet Reynard. Straight past and back onto the final 6km, again legs tired but enjoying the moment, knowing you were about to be a Cingle. With no time at all the 3rd summit was gained and we were in the club! Many tears and photos followed, before the sun went down and we donned a lot of extra fleeces and tops due to the lack of sun and the chilly wind. Arrival at 19:42 – 3h19m (inc stop)
1) Set off at day break, quite possibly this ride will take all day and its better to finish in daylight hours than risk it.
2) Use loads of energy drinks – we drank 3 x 750ml Lucozade energy drinks and 3 energy gels per climb. Knowing we wouldnt have a support vehicle in Malaucene (our drivers had done the first ascent with us and gone back to Bedoin to get it) we carried pre-mixed energy powder to be added to water, which worked great. All these calaroies and carbs really came into their own towards the end of the 2nd climb, and all through the 3rd.
3) Take breaks. Its a mammoth effort and one to be enjoyed. Be sure to call into the two chalets, where Reynard is far more friendlier (free water and toilets) as Liotard expect you to spend loads of money in there, and you won’t get a smile back!
4) Get drunk afterward!
TSC returned to Ventoux in August 2012 to get the teams newest member – 2yrd old Nea Snook – to Tom Simpson’s monument and on to the summit. Pictures can be viewed at http://www.flickr.com/photos/14517535@N04/sets/72157631913926466/