Progress (or lighter clothing…)

My next race, up and over Mt. Ventoux, is really making me wonder about my ambitiousness this season. I’ve never climbed anything near the distance or height of this thing, at least not at race speed.

So, I’m trying to be pro-active and I have started to hit the mountains north of Nîmes to get some elevation under my legs. My ‘coach’, and new-found step-brother, Rob, recommended doing tempo training (20-30 min) for long ascents like Ventoux. So, yesterday I hopped on the train to Alès and rode the route of my first race this year.

The first climb on this route is 8 km long and probably an average of 5% or 6%. It took me 29 minutes to get to the top and, more importantly, my average speed on the tough bits was 14 to 15 km/h – at least 3 km/h faster than what I remember doing during the race in February. I’m either losing weight, getting stronger, or hopefully, both. Still, there is a long way to go. The gradient of Ventoux (not to mention le Galibier and l’Alpe d’Huez that I have to somehow get up in July) gets up to 10% and stays at 8-9% for km after km.

Profil Ventoux

Author - Stephan Brunker

Yes, 21 km of non-stop climbing.

But back to the ride (I can’t look at that graph anymore…). Here’s a shot on the way up.

Up on the next climb I found this little house for rent. Dream on…

At the bottom of the 2nd climb I noticed something I missed when I raced this route – a medieval-looking bridge.

I say ‘looking’ because it turns out that this bridge – le Pont des Camisards – was only built in 1719, making it positively modern for these parts. Why it is named after the Camisards, protestants of the Cévennes that rose up against the Catholic crown in the early 1700s, remains a mystery, since it was built after the uprising. Still, I do love my stone bridges, and this one has character, no matter how young it is.

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7 thoughts on “Progress (or lighter clothing…)

  1. Your blog should carry a x rating for horror – that graph …
    There’s still time to take up an alternative hobby, you know, like stamp collecting or trainspotting. Actually no – they sound far worse than cycling up Mt Ventoux!

  2. Ventoux is a beast. 10km of ~10%. Tempo through the middle then the final few km is beasty.

    Recommend doing some hill specific training (the Etape guide you got has that plan – use it!).

  3. We drove up it in 2009, and thought that was an epic effort : P
    Then at the top a guy sprints the final few meters showing off for the group he was with, only to have his wife about 100 meters behind towing their kid, in one of those trailers that you hook up to your bike! Didn’t she get a rousing welcome!
    You will nail it!

  4. Maybe I should have Karsten towing me…?

    Yeah, I’ve been up it by car and motorcycle both and it was hard on both machines. I’m thinking of testing it out in the next 4 weeks, actually, if I can get up enough courage. Not sure if knowing what I’m getting into is a good idea or not.

  5. Looking for a good report on Mt. Ventoux, and thanks for Rob’s blog site. I read it and have made a conscious decision to cut all extra sugar from my diet. I am already down to 210 from a high of 230. I aim for sub-200 and hope to make it with diet and cycling. Always enjoy reading your posts! And the pics are good, too!

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