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.
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.
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.