Mont Ventoux

France

It is the white sea at 1,909m. Mont Ventoux is epic. A giant that stands alone in the Provence region of Southern France, Mont Ventoux has made for some of the most dramatic backdrops for the Tour de France. With gradients between 7-10%, the 22km climb from Bédoin is one of cycling’s most talked about climbs. Its stark summit with oceanic limestone, heat haze and strong winds has taken the legs and last breaths of pro riders.

From Bédoin, the rolling terrain is marked by vineyards and Tuscan-like villas. Providing an ample amount of motivation and warm up, the views are vast with Mont Ventoux’s scale and lion-shaped back visible in the distance. A long ascending slope in the middle, this is not the first cycling article to warn of the tough section starting at Les Bruns. Here, the mythical mountain starts to show its madness. The road turns sharply into the forest, and at kilometre nine, the steep inclines last much too long.

There is a section of manicured shrubs with giant rocks; and at 16km, things ease with more switchbacks weaving through the trees. Or does it? From 8% to 5% to 9%, not really!

Finally, out of the trees with glimpses of the iconic white stone and telecommunications tower, you are riding with a renewed goal.

At this point, you are wondering to yourself: how did you get here? And, how did this get here? From the agriculturally rich landscape to the extra-terrestrial rolling surrounding of bare rock, the environment takes your legs and mind spinning to another planet. And, with 4km to go the gradient increases once more.

Long bends through the summits’ limestone with views of the tower ahead getting nearer; it

is then up past the café stop, le Vendran, for one final short and punchy test to the sign Summut du Ventoux — and a view you have been counting down the kilometres to see.

If lucky, it is a view to cherish. As with Ventoux come high winds and highly changeable weather — proving why this rare environment Ventoux (windy) is an ecological magnet that can make any human, humble. It was within minutes reaching the top we became cloud-covered, and a storm raced towards us. It was wild!