I am now enjoying my recovery week of Guinness beef, veggie sausages (need the protein, Coach says) and lots of leg elevation and I’m finding it a little difficult to bring myself back to just two days ago to my very last 100km ride before the first Act One this Sunday. But I’ll give it a go.
John and I went to Provence for the weekend to get a couple of good rides on new roads in and for our last day we chose what looked like a great loop, starting in Bédoin, climbing up through the Gorges de la Nesque, a cheeky Sault-side climb up Ventoux, then a descent down to Malaucène and finally a hilly ride back to our start, around the west side of the mountain. It turned out to be all we hoped for, I’m happy to report.
Here’s where it started, in the most bike-friendly public toilet I’ve ever seen!
The Gorges de la Nesque climb starts life just a few kilometers out of Bédoin, so parking here makes good sense, if you want a warm up (not to mention the use of the above facilities..). It’s a long, easy climb that you can really get some speed up on. I don’t think you ever get over 5% or 6% the whole way up, but after you’re done you have climbed 500 meters or so. It’s a pretty and dramatic ride, as well.
When the gorge stops, the lavender begins because you immediately start a gentle descent into the wide, beautiful valley below Sault, which I didn’t take a photo of. Sorry. With Ventoux taunting us from across the valley, we had a quick cup of coffee, before deciding that we needed to get it over with (a storm was coming).
So we made the now-routine climb up Ol’ Baldy. Here is the beginning of that storm.
A dramatic photo of the clouds being whipped around the summit.
And what our descent looked like for the first few kilometers. It was a windy and wet affair and John’s knuckles weren’t nearly welded to his handlebars by the time he reached Malaucène (I found the fun side in it somehow).
But all was forgotten after lunch arrived and we got ‘the good carbs’ (in the glasses, not on the plates) into us for the last push back to the car.
And what a push! We’d both driven this little road between Malaucène and Bédoin, but had never ridden it. What a glorious little 9km it is. Just a little bit of climbing and some fun descents, all along a hedge-lined road that was as smooth as a pool table. It was so impressive I even whipped out a long-forgotten Canadianism and gleefully said to John, ‘Beauty, eh!’. Couldn’t have asked for a better way to finish our long training season, I think. In fact, I’m so happy with this route I’m going old-school (for very long-time readers of this blog you’ll remember this) and including a Google Map. Do this ride and thank me later.