I was feeling pretty good about myself before my last race, and I can lay the blame on Doug Stoddart. Doug is the owner of Village Vélo, a bike rental shop north of here, and of course, he is a fellow cyclist.
He knows his backyard pretty well and offered to take me up the area’s mini Ventoux – Mt. Bouquet. I had see this protrusion on the horizon of many a ride and was eager to see what it was like. Doug had been up it lots because he brings his clients (he runs tours as well) up there, timing them all on the climb. This has become, over the years, his ‘Bouquet List’ (pronounced ‘bucket’…and possibly spelled that way, too). Here is Mr. Stoddart near the foot of Mt. Bouquet.
And a closer view of the climb. As you can imagine, the top is where the antennae are; the beginning is near the bottom left of the photo. If you can make out the road from there, follow it till it looks like it goes straight up the mountain for a half cm or so – it does. That is the 1st or 2nd ramp of 20%+ that makes this climb a little tough. They aren’t very dramatic though, and the road flattens out at the top of the 2nd. Still, it’s a shock to the system to hit a wall like that.
Here is a stretch further up that was heart throbbingly steep as well, as I think you can tell.
Doug has not been riding much this year, so I went ahead of him to see what kind of time I could manage, and reached the peak in 21:20.
21:20, it turns out, puts me at No. 2 on the Bouquet List, right behind former pro racer (and ex-teammate of Tom Simpson), Colin Lewis. OK, not ‘right’ behind. More like 3 minutes.
Here is the great view from the top. This is looking east towards Mt. Ventoux, but my little lens couldn’t really capture le Geant from this far away. It’s there, if you squint.
Below is an article that Doug wrote up a few years ago when he had Colin as a client. It’s pretty entertaining, not to mention inspiring. Colin’s time on the Ventoux climb, for example, was around 1.5 hours, a very, very respectable time, especially for a guy in his sixties.