Just in case you have come to this blog a bit late and saved yourself a ton of wasted time, here is a rundown of the challenge that we had a crack at yesterday:
|Garmin recording gadget died just after the fifth ascent. Means I'm missing 40 miles and 5000'. Never mind.|
It was to ride up and down Mont Ventoux 6 times within 24 hours, and you have to ride each of the three roads up to the summit, twice. This guarantees a long day out as the distance cycled will be 170 miles and the total amount of climbing just under 30,000 feet. If you complete the challenge then you are eligible to become a member of La Bicinglette: to date only 90 people have done this, although I'm not sure that I'd want to be a member of any club that'd have me as a member. Cheers Groucho!
Right, now you have a vague idea of what yesterday was all about, here goes with my version of it all...
|Deliberately blurred to convey the sense of how we felt at the start. 0042 hours...roll!|
I honestly cannot say that I enjoyed any aspect of cycling up or down the mountain in the dark. It all seemed a tad surreal, as in "what on earth are we doing?". I heard a few animal noises but reckon our unique sounds and smells frightened them right off!
|We took a punt that this would be a safe place to stash our water & food supplies. If you like to gamble...|
Still for all that we did complete the first climb and thankfully the couple of supply bags that we had stashed behind a wall at the summit were still intact. We have water and food...get in!
|First of six cliched poses.|
|Sunrise on the 2nd ascent (1st time from Bedoin and a horrible climb.). Big lump in the distance.|
|Seems close but the last few miles aren't easy.|
|We were so lucky with the weather...beautiful sunrise!|
|Second of six cliched photos...|
|It is a pretty unique and brutal landscape. I don't need to ever see it again!|
|You wanna see the prices that these snappers charge...|
|Third of six cheesy photos. Feeling a tad warm by 0930...|
|If we had the time to dawdle then this was ours.|
|Love this aspect of the whole caper.|
We sped back down to Malaucene for a le petit dejuner break at our hotel. Those 90 minutes off the bike sped by and all too soon we were off and into the climb from Malaucene for the second time: temperatures would reach 33c on the way up. Despite that, it went ok with Andy dropping me yet again, hah-hah!
Truth be told, I was never able to have a go on any of the climbs and it was a case of "I'll see you at the top..." which was only right. In previous tours it has been roles reversed at times but whether I had expended more than I thought on the journey down to Carpentras or was just plain useless, who can say?
|Fourth ascent (second from Malaucene) in 33c, and it looks like you have a wall ahead of you. And you do, hah-hah!|
|Cheapskate on the fourth climb...|
|This nonsense earned me a push from the snapper, hah-hah!|
We were at the top for the fourth time around 2pm and it was now teeming with cycling wildlife. Loads of different nationalites, shapes and sizes. We even saw one kid being towed in a trailer by his dad. Magnifique!
|Fourth cheesy pose...|
From there it was a fast run down to Sault to begin our first climb from there, and fifth overall. As a wise Bicinglette man said to me, "...fifth is nowhere, sixth is La Bicinglette!". Mozza is a tad mental though, to be fair.
|On the run down to Sault. Lavender fields: do not be fooled for they contain stingy, bitey things!|
The scenery changed again with patches of lavender fields which looked beautiful. Beauty fades especially when the various insects that the fields attract decide not to avoid you and either bite or sting. Andy got attacked first so I had a good laugh. I got done on the way back out from Sault so we both had direct hits from the little bast**ds.
Wasn't all bad though as it provided a temporary distraction from the rest of the pain. Genuinely, there wasn't a bit of me that didn't hurt. Ridiculous behaviour.
|Freshest, coldest eau ever...beautiful!|
|Fifth of six cliched poses- oh, you know the script!|
At the summit we both wanted to head straight back into the final climb and get this over with asap, so it was another fast 18 mile descent back to Sault (with no insect misbehaviour this time) and then a ride back up to the summit together.
|The final corner. 12%. Bring it!|
|Cheers mate- don't think that I could've done it without you!|
Thankfully one German chap just coasted in a few moments after us and he was pretty pleased with his effort. We asked him how many ascents he had done (meaning today), and he said four which was good going. He reciprocated and was appalled when we said six. Turns out he meant he had done four ascents over the week, hah-hah! Bloke was good enough to perform necessary camera duties before we all layered-up and descended from the summit for (hopefully) my last time.
I say "hopefully" because I have no wish or cause to ever lay eyes on Ventoux ever again: Le Tracteur concurs. Been there, seen it...you know the drill.
|The most important bit of card that I have, hah-hah!|
I do wonder where our money that we give does go and what good does it do, so it was gratifying to read this e-mail from Ms Madeleine Blower who is my contact at the RBL:
"...so very many thanks for your efforts here. Your £1673.91 is enough to provide defence accommodation (level access showers, stairlifts etc.) for beneficiaries recovering from serious injury or new disability, so we are extremely grateful for your sponsorship raised...".
|Le cheers et merci!|