The madman of the Mt Ventoux

Saturday 18 July 2020 by Frank Jansen

The Cinglé du Mont Ventoux, or the madman of Mont Ventoux. A wonderful DIY tour for anyone who is crazy enough... or, like me, who doesn't have a gran fondo in his diary anymore because of all the cancellations. When are you the madman of the Ventoux? If you climb it from Bédoin, Malaucène and Sault... in one day from all sides! You have to be cinglé for that.

Mont Ventoux

Club Des cinglés du Mont-Ventoux

For many cyclists, 'The Bald Mountain' or 'the Giant of Provençe' - or Mont-Ventoux - is already ticked off the bucket list. But for real cycling madmen, 1x 23 kilometres up (averaging at 7+%) is not enough. Especially for these people, the Club of the madmen of Mont-Ventoux has been founded: Club Des cinglés du Mont-Ventoux

Les 3 Ballons and the Giro della Dolomiti are canceled, my two major cycling goals this season. So I'm well prepared. To make matters worse: my 1,5 week holiday that my girlfriend and I had planned in France was ruined. Not only because of the rain, but also because we would mainly watch Tour de France during our stay. And as you might understand, I didn't take a lot of persuasion when my girlfriend proposed to extend the holiday with a few days and drive from the west coast of France to the Provençe to enjoy a few days of proper sunshine. My bike was with me anyway and 7 kilometers from cycling mecca Bédoin there was a beautiful little hotel that still had a room left. Can I remove the Cinglé from my bucket list and really test my shape while my girlfriend is enjoying the sun with a book?

Normal I would have registered with the Club as a participant. If you want to be on the official lists - just like about 14500 others - you have to report to the Club at least two weeks in advance and pay a small entry fee. You will receive a frame sign and a special stamp card. You fill in the date of your ride and collect a stamp in each village at the foot and on top of the Ventoux as proof that you have really been there. Afterwards you send in the card and you will receive an honourable mention and a nice souvenir. Nice to have anyway, but ok ... Since we'd made a last minute decision, I'm formally not in the list of lunatics.

From all sides... or even crazier

I started in Bédoin. According to most, that's the hardest side although some disagree. In my experience, it's the toughest. The segment up to the forest is easy to do (5 kilometers with a maximum of 5% average over a kilometer), the next stretch through the forest was heavy and endless... (a total of 9.5 kilometers with hardly any parts under 8%). At Chalet Reynard you can breathe a sigh of relief that the hardest part is over, but don't make the mistake of thinking you're almost there! It's still another 6,5 kilometers with averages varying between 5,5% and (close to the top) 10%.

I cross the top and start the wonderful descent, on excellent asphalt to Malaucène. In this cycling-crazy village, I pick up a quick cup of coffee and a sandwich and above all bought some sports food in one of the many bike shops. After all, I didn't have the plan to come here, nor did I take all the stuff needed for such an effort. Well stocked up again, I jump back on my bike for another 21 kilometers at 7.5% on average. In my opinion the treacherous thing on this side though is that it is a lot less stable than Bédoin's side. One can find five easier kilometers on this side, but in contrast to the climb from Bédoin on this side, they are much more spread over the mountain. The advantage is that you get some rest every now and then. A disadvantage - at least I think - is that it breaks your rhythm. Also the percentages during the more difficult kilometers fluctuate a lot more than on the Bédoin side. Anyway, I reach the top with cramps in my legs and even declare myself crazy that I'm going to climb it again...

After a coke on top I descend to Sault. For me there's it's crystal clear which is the most beautiful descent: it has be Sault! Surely, after Chalet Reynard the percentages are not very special, so for the true kamikaze pilots it might be a bit boring. Especially since there are hardly any tricky corners in the descent. But you can let the bike run and enjoy the view for yourself... and the view is magnificent. At about 12 km before Sault you ride against a purple lavender carpet, if you go in the right period that is. A few kilometres later you descend right through it. I'm having lunch in Sault with a view of the fields and start riding again. 

From Sault it's the longest, but also by far the easiest climb. 18 kilometers with percentages that fluctuate somewhere between 3 and 6%. Only the last 6.5k are though; it's the same stretch from Chalet Reynard as the climb from Bédoin. From the Sault side it suddenly gets much harder here, but keep in mind that these were the easiest kilometers on your first climb! Once you get to the top of the hill, grab a coke and enjoy your performance! It's only a short descent to Bédoin and you're officially crazy.

Do you want to be even crazier? That's possible! The Club also has a licence for people who climb the mountain via the forest path that connects the Bédoin and Malaucène sides. And there's a license for people who complete the three sides twice in one day...

Gran fondo's around the Ventoux

Not crazy enough for 3x, but just once a little more than just for yourself up? There are plenty of events in which the Ventoux is included, look especially in our calendar! For those who still want to do an event this year, the Santini GF Mont Ventoux and Haute Route Mont Ventoux will occur this year. 

Oh... and if you climbed it from all sides... just let me know which side was heaviest!

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