Tim’s Ventoux Triple

It has been 3 weeks since the Etape and, although I’ve been out on the bike a little, mostly I’ve been enjoying my post-goal life of rest, beer and a total lack of fartlekking. Climbing Mt. Ventoux for a 4th time this year honestly never crossed my mind.

So imagine my surprise when my mind took it upon itself to tell my fingers to email Tim Marsh and let him know that I’d join him on one of his ascents of le Geant!

In my defense, it really was probably the only way I could meet up with Tim, a mad Aussie cyclist and frequent commenter on my blog. Tim, and his girlfriend (correct me if I’m wrong there) Kate, have been in Europe for a month, doing Etapes, following the Tour and trying to find the good weather we are so well known for (it’s been a little wet), and they are down to their last few days. I had to do it.

So I hopped on the train to Orange and rode my way through the pretty Dentilles mountains to Malaucène, where the northern route up Ventoux begins.

Here is the sign outside town that warns you of the trouble you are about to encounter.

I met Tim near here – get this – for his 3rd climb of Ventoux that day. Yes, there are three routes that converge at the tower on top of Ventoux, and some maniacs attempt all of them in one day. Here’s one of them.

If you can manage to haul your mutilated legs up Ventoux 3 times you will have done 70 km of ascent, with an elevation gain of 4300 meters.

Tim and I stayed together on the climb for a little bit, but I was fresh and feeling feisty, so I went ahead to see what I could do to remedy the failure I had on this climb back in May.

This is a section at 12%, the steepest on the climb. I still can’t decide which side of Ventoux is harder, since they have completely different characters. I’ll keep trying till I figure it out.

This next shot is where I bonked on that day in May. I remembered it well, since I spent so much time on the shoulder, suffering and sucking power gels. I didn’t stop this time, even to take this photo. I do have some pride.

Here’s a sight I nearly cried at when I saw it in May. This is only 2 km from the top, but to me it looked like it was 2km straight up. I was feeling good this time, so I just concentrated on my rhythm and the road ahead and it was over in no time.

While I waited for Tim at the top I took the chance to look around a little. This image, I thought, says it all about Ventoux.

And check out the panniers he’s carrying! You see all sorts of bikes coming up the mountain, actually. Here’s a guy on a recumbent – a feat I had thought completely impossible.

Then Tim rounded the corner at the summit.

After an insane descent (I’ve met my match in that department) to Bédoin, we rode over to the campground where Tim and Kate had their campervan parked, had a couple beers and a nice chat in the Provencal sun. I’m not sure that it gets much better than that.

If any other readers out there would like to get together for a ride, give me a shout. I need an excuse to get out of the house.


For my other Ventoux escapades this year, check out the following posts. I’ve got some tips on climbing it on the last link, for those game enough to try.




23 thoughts on “Tim’s Ventoux Triple

  1. I’m reading this while sipping a coffee in Cernay-la-Ville in the sunny vallee de Chevreuse. Want an excuse to get out of the house? Next time you come to Paris, bring your bike or at least your gear 🙂 Great post, very glad to read that all your riding this year paid dividents.

  2. Hey Gerry great story!
    Sun! Mt Ventoux Bah humbug, where was that on Wednesday when we drove past to show the “Mum’s”? We all arrived back yesterday and I’m now into the groove of getting my SoF (South of France) fix early in the morning. A little earlier than normal thanks to the marvel of jet lag as it is 3 am! And i get to go to work today…yay!
    3 times in one day? Tim what an epic test, well done!
    OK Gerry, that is the target for next year – remember YOU said that after the first climb there are others you’ll want to do, and recommended the Etape registration, this sounds more um interesting!
    Righto now a whole month of TdF, and blogging to catch up on!

    • I know it’s 3am, but is that you saying you’ll be doing the Etape next year?? That’s the way I read, anyway, and since I’m the owner of this blog, I hereby make it official. See you next July, Steve!

      Have fun watching the TdF. I think you’ll like the ending.

  3. Great post Gerry…. and Tim, what can I say. Three times up the Ventoux in one day…EPIC!. That’s one for the log book. And great pictures, especially the guy with his head in his hands. I guess it is true what they say, “a picture is worth 1000 words”. I’m looking forward to riding Ventoux myself in a couple weeks, but before I do I have a few little hills in the Alps to climb.

    • And one more thing Gerry. You must be feeling pretty good at how well you can ride this monster climb, especially when you look back at your first attempt. It’s amazing how well the body responds to training. Keep up the post season maintenance and next year you’ll be even more surprised at your performance. Thanks again for sharing these great stories and images with your loyal follwers.

      • Thanks, Rob. You’re so right. That last climb, although still hard and long, was miles away from my first attempt. Much of it might be mental, since I now know I can make it up now (something I doubted back in May), but the training program you had me on didn’t hurt, I’m sure.

        I’m compiling a list of all the questions I have for you for next season already. Hope you are OK with doling out another year of advice!

        Good luck on your climbs and see you soon.

  4. Hi Gerry. Great article. FYI, the 3 x up Mont Ventoux is a ‘permanent’ ride called “Les Cingles du Mont Ventoux’ which was founded by Monsieur Pic (an apt name no?) My friend Damien wrote a nice article about it which might be of interest to your readers. http://in-the-saddle.com/2010/07/22/les-cingles-du-mont-ventoux/
    I ride in the area from April to Oct with guests on my tours and camps. Would be great to catch up for some rides in the future. Always nice to meet fellow riders and learn new routes.

    • Hi Tarik,

      That’s good information to know, and interesting that the name of the club can be translated into the word I used for those who do the 3 routes – ‘maniacs’! Damien’s article is well written and informative. A nice read. I’m sure I’ll be back in the area, since Ventoux is always there on my rides near home, taunting me. If you’d like to do a ride in Languedoc sometime, let me know. Can’t offer the same altitude as Ventoux, but it’s still pretty nice.

    • Hi Tarik – I checked out your blog post re: 3 x Ventoux. Great stuff! Especially your comments about the little fat kid that was between you and cold refreshment. You demonstated great restraint. Not sure I would have your patience, after such a hard effort. How long did the total ride take you?

  5. Hi Gerry, Great post! I’ve a friend here who visited lasf May. He and his wife rode all three … on three consecutive days.I’ll point him to your post. Super photo of the bike with panniers, pretty much enough to convince me to leave camping gear home this trip. Maybe ride in Narbonne …I should get there about 9/20 if my plan holds. Suze

    • Susan, camping is fun, but if it were me I’d be going for hotels (check out Etape and F1 for real cheapies!) and B&Bs. Maybe I’m just a wimp these days, but I find I’d rather ride up a hill without a getting a hernia. I’m not sure why this didn’t register before, but I think we’ll be in southern Spain when you are in Narbonne. My lovely landlady has offered us her condo near Malaga, so hard to pass up. We’ll be there all that week (the 20th). When do you leave Le Sud? If it’s at all possible, I’d like to catch up for a ride.

      • Gerry, I arrive Sept. 2, begin riding from Bayonne on the 4th and fly back to Boston on the 24th. Am going to bring modern technology along (ahh, what’s happened to me, so very au courant … a tablet, so I can post and stay in touch with friends) perhaps we could meet up somewhere else. It would be fun … Spain sounds great, lucky you!

  6. I think you’re being generous Gerry! I stayed with you for only 1km or so. I was BAKED. I think with compacts, I could cut an hour off my time. Spinning up at 30-40RPM on the third time was some sort of painful.

    I’ve already committed to doing this again, probably next year if we’re back next year.

    To anyone thinking this is beyond them – it’s not. A bit of training (I race a lot in Australia, and train 6 days a week) and you can totally do this.


  7. Hi Gerry
    Doug Stoddard said to look at your blog. I am a Kiwi in France for the TDF-now staying at Uzes for a week and on the area for the next 3 weeks.
    I cycled Ventoux a couple of weeks ago so can relate to your comments (although I climbed it from Bedoin.
    Do you know of any riders who might be keen for a ride around Uzes!
    John Hogg

    • It’s a huge ask. Have you ever done big days in the mountains? If you’ve done, for example, 3000 meters in a day, I’m sure you could get a Triple off. Good luck!

      • I’ve done 2500m. I think I’ll plan on the double and decide when I get there. I’m train aggressively so I’m sure I’ll do that elevation a few times this summer.

        • You’ll be fine. Tip: start very early. If the double turns into a triple you’ll be glad for the extra time, and days are getting short in Oct.

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