Ventoux: Back Among Giants

I love it here.

Provence. I am hiding from the Sun a little now, it is a touch warm. But the view of Mont Ventoux remains utterly spellbinding. How can something that can be so cruel on long climb have such a calming presence.

Today, though, has been acclimatisation day. One ride, not too long with good proportion of climbing on steep gradients. I have feared these after last year’s (slightly daft) sideways fall on Cote de la Redoute. It feels good to get on some gradients that were just as steep, if not for anywhere near as long, and manage to stay on the bike!

Only a short training ride but one that kept me aware. It nearly went pear-shaped within minutes. A large group of cyclists barrelling through the village where we are staying and taking the width of the whole road on a rapid descent. Apparently an organised event the lack of marshals and signage meant a head on collision was only narrowly avoided. After that I slid behind a car. Not a great advertisement for cycling, can imagine someone just walking up the hill would have been….. unnerved……

Part of the rode was a scouting trip to Bedoin confirmed that weekend was not the right time for a climb. A traffic jam of cars and cyclists through the village, either to the supermarket or to start the climb of the mountain, and a seeming inability to signal by either made this the most dangerous part of the ride.

The open roads in France, though, remain a joy for a cyclist. Space and time are afforded to cyclists, even by trucks. That helps the confidence.

And the landscape is just spellbinding.

The only concern for the climb at the moment is the heat. Heat and exercise are not good combinations, add MS to the challenge and you have a complex situation. Fortunately, cycling helps keep me cool through generating it’s own breeze. I think.

I am fit and well prepared for this, though. My route is ready and all I need to do is enjoy the long, slow climb through the Gorges de la Nesque up to Ventoux via Sault. After the insanity of Bedoin (hot and steep and f*cking claustrophobic) and Malaucene (pretty and steep, f*cking 12% right in the middle!), this will hopefully be an enjoyable day in the saddle.

And when I get to the top, I will decide whether or not to ride down or chicken out and get a lift down. Or maybe the Mistral will decide for me. You can’t lan everything!

Just to make sure I do not get too relaxed about things, I have started reading Ventoux by Jeremy Whittle. A large part of the first ten pages seemed to centre on people dying on Ventoux, from Tom Simpson onwards.

A healthy dose of nerves and respect for the mountain is no bad thing. After all, there is no such thing as an easy route.

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