Many cyclists have heard of the Club des Cinglés (Crackpots) du Ventoux. The basic idea is to cycle all three sides in a single day. Difficult! Recently, the idea has been extended to include a fourth “forest” route.
However, this 4th Forest route suggested by the Club shares 13 kilometres of the paved road – wimps! I had a similar but more remote option in mind that wouldn’t join the paved road until the final 4 kms. Both options are marked and explained on the map at bottom. I started just below Bédoin, the start of the most famous paved option. There is probably a better way to find the start of the gravel road, but it is just a little above town. I marked on the map where I joined it.
Much of the first few kilometres are exactly like the top photo. It’s a wide, deserted road – I saw no-one. It had been freshly “re-graveled” and was thus at times quite difficult: slippery, bumpy. Harder than a typical old mountain gravel road.
Officially, I was riding the Piste des Graviers Blancs (Track of the White Gravel):
It’s never ridiculously steep or technically crazy – it’s longer than the paved way. Happily, after a few kilometres the surface became easier: less new gravel. After Sixteen kilometres, I arrived at a four way intersection.
I am quite certain that the Club des Cinglés suggests their forest road as it is just about do-able on a road bike – if you are not too fussy. Whereas the Piste des Graviers Blancs that I rode is certainly a bad idea on a road bike. FWIW, I was using 700-35c tires.
At this intersection, my route joins up with the Club’s route. Again, marked on the map below. There is also a way to get to Chalet Reynard from here.
At the intersection follow the sign for “rte 110 Piste de la Tête du Chauva” – Track of the Bald Head. Nice! The surface is basically the remnants of a paved road, relatively flat, easy riding, curving around towards Mont Serein.
Next, the mountain-bike adventure ends, and I re-joined the paved road – but on the back Maulacène side, four kilometres from the summit. But these are fun kilometres, especially the last two. Great, great views:
As often is the case, it was very, very windy and cold at the summit.
I descended the paved classic route back to Bédoin. The wind was so strong at Col des Tempêtes that I walked for a few hundred metres. As usual, a steady stream of cyclists were climbing here: all sizes, sexes, speeds, bikes.
Overall, this was a fun adventure. I loved the deserted nature of the climb and the improving views as I got higher. In the busy month of August there is something special about having Mont Ventoux all to one’s self.
A fun, deserted, unpaved option up the legendary Géant du Provence.
Quiet / No Traffic