Mont Ventoux is famous or should that be infamous for its psychological challenge as well as a physical one. The mountain’s microclimate and barren lunar landscape are well known at every level of cycling. There is more than meets the eye, however, where Ventoux is concerned. The mountain has intrigue, history, and is unique in the region of Provence.
This post provides interesting insights into Ventoux you may not have come across before.
In what can only be called a celebration, le Club des Cinglés du Mont Ventoux, is a club for riders that have climbed the col from all three routes in one day. If you can ride Bédoin, Malaucène et Sault in one day you can become a member of the club of the mad men (and women) of Mont Ventoux.
Riding one route is difficult; doing all three in one day is extremely hard and testing!
Mont Ventoux is geographically part of the Alps but stands alone from them. It is located in Provence, France, and it is easily the highest peak in the region. Many feel it has a foreboding presence. As such, the col has often been referred to as “The Beast of Provence” and “The Giant of Provence”.
After riding it no doubt you will have your own name for it.
The Bédoin to the summit route is considered the hardest. It features an intense gradient-heavy section where gradients hit the 12% mark. You are also cycling the longest distance as your starting position is lower than the other two routes. It should be noted that no route is considered easy!
The last 6 kms of Ventoux has been described as cycling on the moon. The barren land does give you a lunar landscape feel. The rock, however, is actually limestone. It has formed by the endless storms and freezing temperatures Ventoux experiences in the colder months. The road to the summit is closed for around six months of the year.
Resembling a lighthouse, the distinctive red and white building at the top is as a meteorological station. It was built in 1968. The building now is used to broadcast television signals as well as its original purpose.
Ventoux’s microclimate keeps you on your toes. Yes you may have started the ride in brilliant sunshine, but when you hit the last 6 kms you could be riding in a thunderstorm. As you can imagine at high altitude with no cover wind speeds are high. So far, the highest recorded wind speed is 321 kph (200 mph).
Ventoux has inspired generations of cyclists and one happened to be a philosopher. Roland Barthes, arguably best known for his work on the intellectual movements of Structuralism and Post – Structuralism, was also a cycling fan.
Ventoux made such an impression on him, that he wrote two quotes that if you have ridden Ventoux you will probably be able to relate to. They are:
"The Ventoux is a god of Evil, to which sacrifices must be made. It never forgives weakness and extracts an unfair tribute of suffering."
"Physically, the Ventoux is dreadful. Bald, it's the spirit of Dry: Its climate (it is much more an essence of climate than a geographic place) makes it a damned terrain, a testing place for heroes, something like a higher hell."
There are not many cols that can inspire philosophers.
If you are interested in joining the club of the mad, you can do this via our custom cycling tour which you can find here.
Ventoux is considered to be one of the toughest climbs in cycling.