The Giant of Provence ↑ all posts
The final big Tour climb on my list is Mont Ventoux, the Giant of Provence. Technically part of the Alps, but it stands in isolation high above the vineyards and lavender fields. Kai hires a bike in the town of Bedoin and we start the climb from the town centre. It begins gently enough for a few km through farmland but then steepens up to a consistent 8-10% as it reaches the forest. This gradient is maintained for the next 19 km to the exposed iconic limestone peak with its red and white communications tower. Kai takes the lead initially (I blame this on the fact I was carrying her jacket and baguette on my rear rack!), but my months of endurance training pay off eventually as we reach the top. Unable to keep up with my dramatic and devastating attack on the final hairpins she falls behind and in many ways I remind myself of Pantani fighting up these last few kilometres. Except with fewer drugs. And more hair. And a bit slower.
A meal of squashed and hot baguette at the top with fantastic clear views over flat Provence to the east, and to the Alps in the west. We descend to Sault and then follow the Gorges de la Nesques to get back to Bedoin. This is another river gorge, not as deep or as long as the Verdon but still beautiful, and it’s pretty much downhill all the way home.