The road to Ventoux - Part 8

Hamish training zwift

The most important news first – we now have a JustGiving page for the “Ventoux3 for Out of the Blues” challenge:

It is a long time since my last Road to Ventoux blog written in February and a lot has happened, not least of which has been the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown. One of the consequences of the lockdown is that many people moved to do more of their training indoors. Unfortunately, the beginning of March also saw me becoming more and more incapacitated by a frozen shoulder precipitated by falling off my bike on ice on New Year’s Eve (they say things come in threes and I am hoping that on the back of my heart and then knee problems this is it for a while!). As time went by, my shoulder became more and more painful when cycling, especially outside, to the point where I could not manage more than 30-40 minutes. As a result, despite all the fantastic weather up until a week or two ago, I have done the vast bulk of my training indoors on Zwift. The picture for this blog is me on my bike in my garage frantically peddling away, with Zwift on the PC screen in front of me. The step ladders are not to help me get on and off my bike! Rather they are a convenient height to put the computer’s mouse and keyboard on so that I can get to them during a ride ( to give people a “ride on” – you have to use Zwift to get this!).

Currently, the biggest climb on Zwift is one modelled on the famous Alpe d’Huez climb that has featured in the Tour de France on multiple occasions. It is a climb of around 1000m (Mont Ventoux is around 1600m). As part of my training I have built up to cycling to the top, getting off and having a cup of tea and scone, cycling back down, turning around and cycling back up again. Going up on this occasion took me around 1 hour 15 mins, while the descent took just 12 minutes – you don’t have to slow down to go around hairpin bends in the virtual world!!

I have now had a steroid injection in my shoulder and it is significantly better. I have built up to 90 mins on the bike outside. However, over the next three weeks, the excitement is still going to be centred on Zwift! The first ever virtual Tour de France is due to held over the next three weeks. Six stages, one each on Saturday and Sunday, and all televised (EuroSports channel in the UK). Zwift have created a new environment based on Paris and the French countryside for the event. “L'Étape du Tour” is an organised mass participation cycling event for amateurs to race over a Tour de France stage, usually held on a Tour rest day. For the virtual Tour, there is also going to be a virtual L’Etape covering one of the two Tour stages on each of the next three weekends. The BIG news, in relation to the Ventoux3 challenge, is that the third L’Etape stage on the weekend of 18/19###sup/sup### July is on the Zwift recreation of Mont Ventoux – “Von Top”. This is based on the route up the mountain from Bedoin, the one usually used by the Tour. So, I am going to have a chance to finally try myself out on the mountain itself, in virtual reality!

The timing of the L’Etape is also exciting in that shortly after this I hope to be travelling to France (quarantine restrictions allowing) and while there I hope to ride up Mont Ventoux ONCE (if my shoulder holds out). This will allow me to get the feel for what it is like in the real world and what I am going to need to do to prepare to ride up it THREE times in one day in May next year. It will also be interesting to see how the metrics of time and power to get up Mont Ventoux compare with getting up “Von Top” on Zwift. It is claimed that the metrics are very similar between riding up Alpe D’Huez and its virtual recreation Alpe du Zwift.

If you want to know what this blog is all about, go to Road to Ventoux). The aim is to raise money for the charity “Out of the Blues” that supports research into mood disorders.

To sponsor me to ride up the virtual and real Mont Ventoux once each in the next two months, or for the full Ventoux3 for Out of the Blues challenge, go to

If you want to get involved in the Ventoux3 for Out of the Blues challenge in any way, then drop me an email at

Hamish McAllister-Williams