Mont Ventoux a Cycling Challenge: Taming the Beast
I’ve been cycling most of my life. Like everyone else, I started on training wheels, moved on to a hand-me-down single speed with coaster brakes, then upgraded to an awesome 10-speed. After that, mountain bikes were all the rage, so at 15, I bought my first bike—a Peugeot mountain bike—with my very own money. And I loved it.
…Continue reading here for Paula’s original post. She moved from mountain biking (VTT = vélo tout terrain) to road biking and “never looked back.” Paula is an accomplished cyclist, having raced competitively at high levels. However, she readily admits that Mont Ventoux is a cycling challenge for every biker, regardless of your time in the saddle. “I’ve had a long history with the famous Mont Ventoux; I’ve been up and down it so many times I’ve lost count, and at this point, I definitely have some pointers.”
Mont Ventoux 10 Cycling Tips
- Don’t start too fast. All three routes (Bédoin, Malaucène and Sault) include over 20km of climbing. It’s best to set a pace you can live with and ride.
- Carry lots of water and snacks. It’s a big effort; you will need the fuel.
- To stop or not. This is a personal choice, but getting restarted on a hill is tough. Just sayin’.
- Chalet Reynard is 6km from the top and the place where many who ride from either Bédoin or Sault stop to regroup, buy a snack or use the washroom. There is also a large parking area for buses or support vehicles.
- If it’s windy, do NOT go. There is a reason this mountain is called Mont Ventoux (vent = wind). Even Tour de France riders are prevented from reaching the summit.
- Take an extra layer. It can be cold at the top at 1909 metres and even colder on the way down once you have cooled off.
- Bédoin is the classic route of the Tour de France. Much of the ride is in the trees, which is a benefit in scorching weather. This ascent is considered to be the hardest.
- Malaucène is the same length as Bédoin, and for many, this route is psychologically harder with a section of straight 12% grade. Additionally, on this slope, you do not have the option of stopping at Chalet Reynard, so there is no break.
- Sault this route is 26km in total, longer than the other two but more gradual in grade. In Paula’s words, “It starts in the wonderfully beautiful lavender meadows, it smells good, and it’s a much easier pitch. It’s longer but by far the most agreeable for any newbies.”
- Have fun and take your picture at the top.