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