Mont Ventoux Can Be Climbed in December

I didn’t know that till today, but it’s true and I’ve got the photos and sunburned face to prove it.

Mont Ventoux is famously known for its bald head, which many people often mistake as snow, even in the height of the Provençal summer. Well, since it always looks snow capped, it’s sometimes hard to tell if it actually is. 

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Today’s high was supposed to be a promising 14 degrees at the bottom of the mountain, but as I got to Bédoin, the temperature mimicked the village – it wasn’t moving. It was only 6 when I got there, so I puttered around a little, buying 2 bananas because I had forgotten my energy on the kitchen counter, getting a noisette from the grumpiest barman I’ve met this year, and putting on the 2 or 3 kg worth of cycling kit that I thought I’d need. 

As the sun got higher it really started to warm up and I was ‘unlayering’ as I spun up the easy bit. This sign didn’t give me a lot of hope for a summit finish. 

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I’m usually in the red zone by the famous corner, but today I was taking it easy (basically, I’m fat and out of shape, so there was no choice) and stopped for this shot. That’s (a little) snow up there. Not sure if you can tell.

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The forest was very slow going and I was, once again, wondering why the hell I ever changed my cassette to a 25. But I was doing better than the only other cyclist I saw on this segment – a Swiss man with a hybrid, walking through the cold shadows of the forest. His wife was in the van and driving up and down the mountain, presumably going ahead to wait, then getting worried and going back to see how he was doing. She passed me both ways several times. Other than her and a few French Elmer Fudds in their 4x4s, there was nothing else on the road. 

Chalet Reynard was closed for renovations, so my 2nd coffee would have to wait. A km or two later I ran into this. I knew it was coming, and thought briefly about the consequences before crouching under the barrier and continuing on. In France, most traffic rules are ‘suggestions’. I figured they’d understand if I was busted. 

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The snow drifted ominously across the road in places, but I always had enough room on the left. 2013-12-04 13.35.23

I passed a couple hiking on the road and saw two more cycling far ahead of me. I wasn’t the only maniac on Ventoux this day. I have to say, if you can time it perfectly, doing something like this out of season (especially on a closed road) is a real joy. The contrast between the solitude I had today and the circus that usually greets us in the summer, is pretty stark.

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This is a badly-angled shot of the Alps from the top. It was cold up there, but I don’t think it would even hit my Top Five List of coldest days on Ventoux. I was well dressed and it wasn’t windy at all.

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A final photo that I took on my (very ginger) descent – the Simpson Monument, getting ready for its few months of hibernation. 

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And more proof: my Garmin data.

That’d be a Dec Ventoux Ascent, correct. by gerrypat at Garmin Connect – Details.

29 thoughts on “Mont Ventoux Can Be Climbed in December

  1. Fantastic – great photos of a great ride. Beats my session on the turbo in the garage this morning! (re our other correspondence – I work in Edinburgh and live in Dunblane, in the midst of some glorious cycling country)

    • Looking forward to seeing you up there, Julian. And yeah, I’m glad I forced myself to drive over there today. I had my own living room trainer session waiting for me if I hadn’t. Wouldn’t have made much of a blog article.

  2. Those garmin power pedals are bringing out a little winter madness it seems. As beautiful as those pics are, I’m happily toiling away in the 20C heat of my home. And I have the garmin data to prove that too.

  3. Wow, you lucky boy. Great photos by the way, and what a stunning day. Extra marks for ducking the barrier by the way – i would have done the same, nothing like a bit of extra (mild) jeopardy to spice things up.

    • The sky was perfect today for photos, even with my phone camera. I was actually passed by a service vehicle of some sort after the barrier. Not even a sideways glance from them, so maybe that thing only applies to cars.

    • Ruud, you are definitely a diable! But hey, you’ve never done it in December? There must be a name for someone who has climbed Ventoux every month of the year. If not, we need to invent one!

  4. Love this post and as many have already said, fantastic photos. Love the one where the snow is creeping across the road. And well done for forging on up to the top! I’m going to go and check your Garmin data now!

  5. Your ride up Ventoux yesterday forced me to do something I hadn’t done yet this year – turn the turbo trainer setting to mountain! Ouch x 3!

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