In late June five guys including three WVCC members and a former club member travelled to the beautiful Cevennes region in the south of France for a three day cycling trip culminating in ascending the famously tough Mount Ventoux.
Mike Smith, Stuart Dawkins, Nick Clarke & Peter Watson rode the Cirque de Navacelles. Mike got childishly overexcited on the flats and paid heavily for his exuberance by suffering like a dog in the 30+ degrees heat on the tough but relatively unheard-of local climbs.
Recreated the route of the fictional Tour de Mont Aigoual which features in the brilliant cycling fiction book ‘The Rider – by Tim Krabbe’. The route ends with an ascent of Mont Aigoual, a 16+ mile climb averaging 4% gradient which has previously featured in the Tour de France. This was an epic tempo session with Mike & his friend Ian being paced up the climb by ace-grimpeur Pete with Stuart and Nick following a few km’s behind at their own pace.
Finally, Day three:
Dominated by the Giant of Provence, The Bald Mountain – Mont Ventoux. The mountain begins by teasing you with a few gradual km’s at around 4% before you arrive in the forested section and are faced with gradients which do not drop below 9-11% until you hit Chalet Reynard near the top.
Unlike mountains in the Alps and Dolomites Mont Ventoux’s switchback corners do not drop in gradient but keep you grinding away in your smallest gear for the majority of the climb. The peloton split on this mighty climb and Pete crossed the line first in a time 1:31:58, the 10th fastest time recorded by any rider to ascend the mountain on that day. Mike fought his way up to a time of 1:46:36, just less than a year after fracturing his pelvis.
Close friends and training partners Stuart and Nick had a friendly competition going into day three with Nick verbally threatening to attack Stuart at the top of the mountain and beat his pal to the top. However, Stuart used his strengths as a rouleur to steadily attack his foe near the base of the climb and powered to a time of 1:50:31. Nick rode very aggressively to summit the climb in 1:53:04
It was a great trip and a visit to the Cevennes and Mont Ventoux are highly recommended both for their beauty and cycling challenges.
A muddy marvel