As I sit here cramming on Provençal history for a tour tomorrow, I realized that I haven’t written about our little adventure yesterday. I’d like to make this a long ranting article – and I may still – but I really need to get past the Romans on my history lesson.
After many months of negotiations, Carsten-with-a-C, from Hamburg, finally got down to Le Sud for his pre-Haute Route Ventoux Triple. Erik was there, too, incidentally, but only made it behind the camera on this ride.
We all did our Triples, I’ll have you know, and at least two of the three of us think we are ready for our respective races this summer (I remain the skeptic). But I don’t want to talk about another Ventoux Triple (yawn).
Okay, not all of them, I guess. Just these ones:
The Weavers and Zigzaggers: these are riders who have not properly considered what it means to ride up a mountain of mainly 10% gradients. Because they don’t like 10%, they reduce the grade by cutting up the road in erratic saw-tooth movements. Weavers and zigzaggers, you are dangerous. Ventoux descenders reach speeds of 80 kph. Zigging and zagging into the left lane is asking for a whole lot of trouble. It also makes those coming up behind you a little uncertain as to where you actually are on the road.
The Pushers and the Pushed: Erik and I saw several instances of this heinous crime being perpetrated yesterday. This is where a rider (read below for this type) is being pushed by two others on either side of him/her. This means that you are riding on a public road 3 abreast, Pushers and Pushed. Even in France this is very uncool. You are sharing this mountain road with others cyclists, walkers, runners, motorcycles, cars, campervans, every type of automobile rally you could possibly imagine, and people who just want to get their Triple over with. Please, have some respect.
The Self-absorbed Summit Hoggers: When we got to the top for the 2nd time yesterday we were greeted by a wall of low-landers. A literal wall. I couldn’t ride my bike past the line that marks the top of the mountain because there were lots and lots of Dutch riders, not riding at all anymore, but still taking up all available space. This, to me, is pure and simple ‘group mentality’ at work, and nobody seemed interested that there might be others coming up the mountain to finish their hard-earned climb at the very top. Clients of ‘Gastenhof – Equipe Mont Ventoux‘, you really pissed off one blogger with that move.
The Under-prepared Over-estimaters: In general, most of the riders above fit into this last category, too. This is just my personal opinion and I am not exactly ‘bothered’ by it, but I would just like to advise those considering an extreme challenge like climbing Mont Ventoux to think about what it means and assess your abilities realistically before you start. For example, if you are overly overweight or obese (yes, I see obese people on the mountain every time I go) it might not be the healthiest option for a physical challenge. But again, take this one as friendly advice. I don’t want to get preachy.
Back to the ride.
Here is my favorite terrifying view of Mont Ventoux, taken a couple of km below the summit on the Malaucène side. Erik, man of brilliant ideas, decided it might be fun to leave this side (the worst, in my opinion) for last. We all struggled up it with not too much trauma, except for the hurricane-force winds up there by the tower (people were walking their bikes off the summit it was so strong).
And, lastly, certain proof that I made it up 3 times.
I have 3 more dates with Ventoux planned this season, so big Dutch cycling groups, beware. I won’t hesitate to shame you again to the 10 people who read this blog!