Club des Cingles du Mont Ventoux Teresa White

Some weeks prior to our trip to Provence Barry and I registered our intention to try and become members of Club des Cingles du Mont Ventoux, translated as club of the crazy!image1

It entails ascending all of the three climbs to the summit in 24 hours. We received our ride cards in the post and read the rules as to where and how to get the card stamped at each departure village and then at the summit.

We set off early Tuesday morning,a day which would be hot but much less windy.

Our first climb (and allegedly the hardest) began in Bedoin at 0630. This being the Tour de France route up Mont Ventoux. 21km climb, starting out quite gentle to warm the legs up then progressing through the forest where it twists and turns up to 10/11% gradient. The flies were an absolute pain!! We emerged at Chalet Raynard where it’s a hard 6km to the summit across the rocky landscape.

Ascent no.1 done, gilet on for the descent to Malaucene. Once down in the village we got our cards stamped, refilled bottles etc and got ready to back up from there. This climb (21km) is brutal! Less shade, less twists and turns and open straight stretches (5km at 11/12%) It was very hot and Barry said he was pedalling squares. This one took us much longer as we needed rest stops and to fuel at a ski station cafe. Again the last 6km were very steep as you came up the other side to the summit from the first climb. The weather station looming over you all the time.

image2Ascent no.2 done but it had broken Barry in the process and he felt he couldn’t do a third.

So I took the beautiful descent to Sault alone while he returned to Bedoin to get the car and rejoin me somewhere on my last climb.

Once my card was stamped in Sault and I’d refilled with water I began the 26km ascent. Much kinder with a 4-5% average gradient and so pretty passing all the lavender fields. Felt really good on this one and enjoyed the gentleness of it despite it feeling like an oven. Barry appeared around the 15k mark in the car with a takeaway pizza and it tasted damn fine.

This ascent brings you back to Chalet Raynard like the first one and so I knew I faced the tough steep final 6k again. Feeling determined and slightly elated to see the summit I took it 1k at a time. Assistance was required at clipping back in on the steep bits but with one final surge I made it round the last 12% corner to the summit for the 3rd time. Ride time around 8hrs 45.

Total distance 136km  Total climb – 4443m

So now to send off my card and await my medal and membership into the crazy club!image3

Maybe Barry will have another go one day