It took me ages to get to sleep last night as it was so hot. But I still woke up bright and early for a day which I was half excited about and half dreading!
I obviously left everything here at the campsite other than valuables and things for the road. I had both rear bags on, but both were pretty empty.
I picked up my breakfast of... Actually, I think you can guess... Ate it, then got going.
It looked to be about 12 miles to the foot of the climb, which I undertook at an easy pace.
There were some seriously threatening clouds hanging around and sure enough it chucked it down! It was hard enough to make me take shelter under some trees!
Fortunately it didn't last long and I was soon through Carpentras and on my way to Bedouin which is where the road up Ventoux starts.
I rolled through town and saw the "Kilometre 0" marker which meant I was on the way up. For another 24 km!
The first few k is just a slight incline really, but after that, things get a bit more serious!
At every kilometre there is a mile stone, I mean kilometre stone, telling you what the average gradient for that k is. Along with how many there are to go until the summit of course.
At about 19 to go things start to increase to around 4.5% which wakes the legs up a bit. Also, this early on I started to be filled with more dread as I knew I had only just got going, there were miles left and it was only ever going to get steeper!
Through the next few km stones, it gradually got steeper and settled in to a steady 9%
This seemed to happen quite quickly and it didn't really feel any steeper than before. I guess I just got into a rhythm.
The next part of the climb is probably the hardest. It's relentless and you know you aren't even half way yet. All you can do is just keep plodding on.
There were quite a few other riders on the road, but not as many as I'd thought. There were quite a few fast locals passing me along with a few Brits - some who were quite fast and some who I doubt made it too the top! There were also loads of Dutch riders taking part in some kind of organised ride. Again, they ranged from fast right down to no chance! They had support cars and everything and they were kept pretty busy. Everyone was very friendy.
So onwards and upwards. I stopped for a breather about half way up. I was actually feeling pretty good at this point, but a quick rest to take on some water and a cool down was probably a good idea.
It had been raining on and off for a while, but was still quite hot. I was glad of that - it must have been horrendous yesterday in the heat.
As I got higher, I noticed the trees were getting thinner, which meant I would soon be out on the open slopes nearer the top. Also, as I was concentrating so hard on keeping a rhythm going, I missed a load of markers and now only had 10 km to go. Only 10!
I was getting into the swing of things now and even started messing around trying a slighty bigger gear. But that didn't last long - I was soon back in the lowest gear I had!
I noted that pretty much everyone I saw (with the exception of the really fast guys) was over geared. Loads of guys painfully grinding up like Jan Ullrich on valium. I guess macho pride prevents some blokes fitting a triple chainset! I should also point out at this point that I was on by far the heaviest bike of anyone I saw!
Anyway, I soon left behind the trees and was out in the open. That was a boost as it meant I was on the final stretch. Still a long way though!
The rain had cleared away now, but it was pretty windy. Fortunately it was a tail wind which did help a bit.
The end was in site now, but it didn't half drag on! The kilometres were passing by and I eventually got the 1 to go!
The road had been less steep for the last few k, but just to remind you this is Ventoux, the last couple are the steepest of all!
I arrived at Tommy Simpson's memorial and stopped to have a look and take a picture, as most people did. I'd laid off the brandy and amphetamines, so I was pretty sure I'd make it now!
I passed the 500 to go sign and the road kicked up one last time. The wind was also incredibly strong by now and quite a few people had taken to walking. Pah!
The very last 30 metres or so were insane. I've never known wind like it. I guess the mountain was living up to its name!
I got to the top, jumped off my bike and dived for cover right up against the wall of the building. I didn't want to get to the top only to be blown back down the quick way!
I took a few photos, but all I wanted to do was get the hell off the summit!
So down I went. It was only a few k back to more reasonable wind levels, so I stopped and put my jacket on as I suddenly realised I was freezing!
The descent was nice. It isn't a dangerous decent like some of the Alpine ones as there are no hairpins and not much in the way of shear drops. It was just a case of letting the bike run, then scrubbing off a bit of speed where necessary.
It was great to have a run back down to Bedouin without having to turn a pedal! Although it was a fair way down, it didn't take long!
I stopped for a coffee at a cafe, took my jacket back off and rode the very easy indeed 12 miles back to my campsite!
I had a shower and sat out reflecting on the day. So what was it like? The obvious answer is Bloody hard! But the great thing about it is that any keen rider (without an aversion to hills obviously!) can do it. It is hard, but it's worth the effort. I have now conquered the mighty Ventoux!
Now time for some dinner!