Le Cinglé Challenge

I have cycled up the three different routes to the summit of Mont Ventoux many times. I’ve struggled with the heat, the wind and the gradient and have always thought tackling all three in one day was total madness. Why the hell would anyone ever want to do that? The thought of crawling in temperatures often in the 30s just didn’t appeal, until last year, in August! Yes, I choose the hottest time of the year, but I was well acclimatised and had just cycled across the Pyrenees, so I knew I was ready. Sometimes opportunity comes along and you’ve just got to go for it, so I did!

Known as the Giant of Provence, situated in the Vaucluse, Mont Ventoux is a very special mountain. In the relative flatness of the surrounding area, it dominates the skyline. The white stones on the top give it a ‘snowy topped’ appearance. This adds to it’s majestic beauty. It’s unlike any other French mountain, I have climbed. It’s truly unique.

So on to the practicalities:
I started in Malaucéne and went up the summit; down to Bédoin; back to the summit; down to Sault; returned to the summit and back down to Malaucéne. The Bédoin route is the Tour de France up, so usually has writing on the road and you will undoubtedly end up accompanied by numerous other ‘wannabies’. This all adds to the fun of what is a fairly arduous climb with many twists and turns. The route up from Malaucéne I personally always find mentally harder as it has long stretches of 8/9 % which look as though they go on for ever! It’s a serious case of ‘mind games’. Guess this is why I choose this accent first, just to get it out of the way! The route up from Sault is always completed last because with it’s easier gradient, it proves to be a bit of welcomed relief. I haven’t mentioned any of the descents because it’s unnecessary. They are what they are but do take care of the route down to Bédoin. With the volume of riders coming up, it’s not unusual to find overtaking cars on the wrong side of the carriage way.

Water is available at the fountains in all 3 towns. If it’s non- portable i.e not for drinking it usually says so. Water is also available in the toilets at the side of Chalét Reynard, part way up.

I used a compact chain set with 11-32 sprockets on the back. 4332 metres of climbing is a maul too far for anyone!

Start as early as you can so at least 2 ascents can be completed before the midday heat. I started at 6 a.m but some begin at 4, in order to see the sun rise on the summit.

Completing this ride was a personal challenge which I set myself. For those who enjoy having a carnet stamped with a time, as evidence of their ride,y ou may choose to register with the Club des Cinglés du Mont-Ventoux http://www.clubcinglesventoux.org/en/…

Looking back I feel a real sense of achievement. It’s a challenge on many cyclist’s bucket list and has the added bonus, that it can easily be completed without support.

Top tip: pace yourself, stay well hydrated, remember to refuel with both food and an isotonic drink and you’re almost there. With some cycling in the heat and a few hilly miles behind you, anything is possible. Go for it!



3 thoughts on “Le Cinglé Challenge

  1. Oh Julie! I am so proud to have known such a ‘plucky lass’. Lovely to see you so happy and fit. Hope you remember me and so pleased you have a name that’s easily googled. Good luck with your cycling endeavours.

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