The Road to Ventoux - Part 26
Day 2: Going down!
The Ventoux3 challenge is raising money for the Out of the Blues charity at https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/outoftheblues.
Bit of a lie in this morning. Got up to find it very overcast, the odd drop of rain and it certainly not hot. The plan for the day was to recce the route for the challenge.
When we go away, Alison generally does not do much driving, especially of hire cars on the right-hand side of the road. However, very kindly, she had agreed to provide vehicle support for the challenge. As a result, we decided that we would drive the entire route so that Alison could get used to the car and the roads.
First up, the climb from Bedoin. Not too bad to start with, then unremitting 8-10% incline for km after km. And lots of cyclists making life harder for people in cars! 6km from the top, where the climbs from Bedoin and Sault merge, is Chalet Reynard with a large café. Briefly stopped to have a quick look at what the facilities were like – likely to be needed on the day. Then up to the top. The biggest problem if you are in a car is where to stop. This is causing some consternation since the plan is that the support car will supply with additional clothing at the top before I start to descend. We manage to identify a couple of options. Then it was down to Malaucene for a coffee and a coke and to identify where to park the car.
Second climb: up from Malaucene. This is more variable in incline than the route from Bedoin. There are some stretches where it is not too bad e.g. 5-6%. However, you make up for it in other stretches, where it can kick up to 14%, including much of the final km. After cresting the summit, we dropped down to Sault to again find where parking could be found and to get some lunch. The only slightly disconcerting observation was that the final 1-2km is a reasonable incline up into Sault. However, this does mean the third climb starts with some downhill.
Third and final climb from Sault. After the brief downhill, the gradient of this climb is the “easiest”, averaging around 5-6% up to Chalet Reynard, but then steeper from there. At the top we found somewhere to stop and I got out.
Whilst I have done loads of training to simulate the demands of long climbs, it is hard to practice descending anything like Ventoux in the UK. As still a novice cyclist, this was a concern for me. As a result, I had agreed with my coach, James Walsgrove, that I would do one descent of Ventoux as a practice. The view down the mountain was frightening, especially when I now knew what the climb up from Bedoin was like. Given that it is much colder at the top of Ventoux than at the bottom, and that you travel much faster going down, I came prepared with three layers on my top including a thick gilet and arm warms. Nevertheless, I was frozen at the start and then, just to make it even more unpleasant, it started to rain! I got to Chalet Reynard and waited for Alison in the car to decide if I needed a further change in clothes. Decision made, I set off again. About half way down, I was clear of the clouds and get warmer by the second under the sun. Twenty one kilometres in 30 minutes with hardly any peddling and a lot of breaking! However, it was not as bad as I feared, so it was a useful exercise.
Another early night tonight and then off to pick Ailidh and Adam up tomorrow.
Further information about the challenge, and my blogs about my training, can be found at http://outoftheblues.org/news/cat/the-road-to-ventoux.