Today I rode the “Routes des Ventoux” cyclosportive. About 150 kilometres and 3000 metres (10,000 feet) of climb.
This was fun! I knew climbing Ventoux would be epic but I didn’t expect the rest of the route to be so beautiful (map at bottom).
Starting in Villes-sur-Auzon, the first 30 kilometres or so were fast and a little hilly – including the tiny Col de la Madeleine – and then we arrived at base of Mont Ventoux on the Malaucene side.
This is a monster. 21 kilometres and 1550 metres ascent (well over 5000 feet). I worked pretty hard and knocked over 10 minutes off the previous time I climbed this side. I guess all these events are paying off.
The descent to Sault is about 26 kilometres. It was a little hairy with the wind up high and VERY bumpy lower down. As usual I was pretty cautious and lots of familiar bums passed me.
At Sault the route split with the short course heading back, and the long route doing some more climbing. As I turned left, EVERYONE around me headed for the short route – cowards. I was all alone!
After a while, the climb up to Col de l’Homme Mort (Dead Man”s Pass!) started. It’s a beautiful climb – fortunately not too steep. There are great views of the backside of Ventoux throughout. I was getting worried that the water / food station might have packed up – and I needed refilling. Was I in last?
But when I arrived (just short of the Col), we spied a bunch of riders behind me and the guy snapped a photo (at right) with a distant Ventoux over my shoulder. And a push to restart as well. Nice!
At the Col only 50 (!?) kilometres to go.
The next 30 were fast – even I broke 60 kph at one point (that’s like 80 for a normal rider)!
Then a final surprise – the last 20 kilometres or so went through the most amazing place. The Gorges de la Nesque. The best way to describe it would be a little “Grand Canyon.” It wasn’t steep – and I was descending – but on a superb cliff road with vertiginous views. Unfortunately I only snapped one quick pic as I was trying to stay with a group – but look at that road!
Below: Ventoux looking south from the top.
Lots of Col sign photos including “Dead Man’s Pass”
I like getting Col signs! The 4th is smudgy as the guy at the water break gave me some grapes and I dumped them in my camera pocket. Ooops.