May 24 - Assault on Mt Ventoux
This was the day all of the cyclists were training for. It was the day of the climb of Mt Ventoux. This is one of the most famous climbs in Europe and is often featured on the Tour de France. There are three routes to the summit - south from Bédoin, northwest from Malaucène and east from Sault. Today the tour wannabes could show that they could climb with the pros. The weather could not have been better. It was warm at the bottom and cold at the top without any of the infamous winds that the mountain is known for. I was insanely jealous that my broken clavicle kept me from riding.
Syd Smoot, our ride director, was nice enough to drive four of us along the Malaucène route. We passed all of the BAC riders on our way to the summit except Vic Deornelas. Vic decided to climb the whole way without a rest stop. The summit was in chaos. Being Sunday and having nice weather, the legion of cyclists (I would guess more than 1000) were making the ascent. In addition, a lot of cars and motorcycles were doing it. It was crowded but the chaos was controlled without any short tempers or accidents. We were able to find a parking place amid the vendore selling candy, sauges and cookies. We got out of the car and found Vic sitting down and smiling. After congratulating him, we walked over to the top of the hill and began taking photographs of our riders as they arrived. This took a couple of hours and we could gradually feel the 40 degree temperature penetrating our layers of clothing.
Most of our riders stayed at the summit to cheer the next ones up. Some were too cold to wait, nut before everyone descended, I took a group photo. This is only 11 of the riders, mostly from the Bay Area and mostly Valley Spokesmen. Several others made it to the summit but had not reached it before we left.
The five of us got back into the car, drove on the route down the Bédoin road from the mountain to Malaucène for lunch. Our restaurant, Les Terrasses du Ventoux, was one where Syd had become friends with the owner after going there for several years. Pasta carbonara for me and tomato and mozzarella salad for Ann. Lots of wine, too. Did you know that good rose is made in this area of Provence?
At Happy Hour, Yann Christiansen, our hotel owner, talked about the history of the hotel.
Dinner was in the enclosed patio again. We had quiet dinner conversations although I am losing my voice due to a head cold.