There is a good reason why Mont Ventoux ranks high on any list of toughest cycling climbs. It’s high, steep, well known for it’s furious winds, and the road goes straight up with no hairpins to give you respite. Actually the only harsh element missing there is altitude – the summit is “only” at 1910 meters above sea level.
I did my climb on a windy October day in 2009. Left the car in Carpentras, then warmed my legs to Bedoin where the climb starts. The first kilometers are easy, but as the road turns left in Saint Esteve, things get tougher: for the following ten kilometers the incline varies mostly between 9 – 10%. As there are no hairpins, there isn’t a place to rest, let alone to stop. Those days I used to weigh close to 100 kilos, and was sporting 34-25 gear ratio, so as you may guess my feeling alternated between horrified and terrified.
After Chalet Reynard the road gets less steep, but often more windy as you are above the tree line. A definite plus is, however, that from here on you tend see the observatory on the top.
The hardest part comes right before the top, but as you’ve been eyeing the tall white building for a good half hour fighting against the wind, there isn’t really powers that would stop you from reaching your goal.
As I did my ascent in October, it tends to be quite cold on the top. So after a quick photo session it was time to go home.
From here on, it’s a fight between going fast to reach the warmer climate faster, or to keep it slow to not freeze on the bike.
Mont Ventoux (from Bedoin) facts:
Altitude gain: 1577m
Elevation on top: 1910m
Average grade: 7,3%
Ratings: Pro Cycling’s Top 50 Climbs: #1
Climb by Bike Difficulty Score: 171,24
Variations: 3: from Bedoin, from Sault and from Maulaucene.
How to find? You won’t miss it. From Bedoin it’s clearly marked, and the paintings on the road will reassure you you’re on a road of the legends. Better leave your car somewhere further, like in Carpentras to allow for smooth warm up before the climbing begins.