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Mont Ventoux

Mont Ventoux

Cycling the Giant of Provence Nearing the final turn to the summit. “The Ventoux is a god of evil, to which sacrifices must be made.…

Saturday, Oct 08

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Cycling the Giant of Provence

Nearing the final turn to the summit. “The Ventoux is a god of evil, to which sacrifices must be made. It never forgives weakness and extracts an unfair tribute of suffering.” — Roland Barthes, French philosopher and cycling fan.

From the village of Bedoin, in the Provence region of France, the summit of Mount Ventoux didn’t look too far away. I could see the observatory at the top, a structure any fan of the Tour de France would instantly recognize.

But, I knew it was farther than it appeared. Coming from Colorado, I was accustomed to viewing mountains that typically rose 3,000 feet above the valley floor. But, Ventoux is different. It rises nearly twice that much from the surrounding valleys, and that’s where it earns its nickname as the Giant of Provence.

In addition to the mountain’s impressive vertical relief, the Bedoin route — a classic Ventoux test piece and one of three different roads to the summit — is also quite steep. It ascends 5,300 vertical feet in just 13.5 miles. That’s an average grade of 7.5%.

A ride from Aspen to the top of Independence Pass climbs around 4,100 vertical feet over 21 miles, at an average grade of 4.8%.

The steep grade and vertical gain aren’t the only challenges. The mountain’s name derives from the French word “venteux,” which means windy. Winds over 200 mph have been recorded at the summit, and 50 mph conditions are not unusual to encounter most days of the year.Ventoux’s […]

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