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Le Mont Ventoux

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Jul 28, 2009
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Alpe d'Huez said:
Dehydration killed Simpson as much as anything. Back in those days they limited the amount of water you could take on. Crazy, I know, but it's true.

Two weeks ago I received a special L'Equipe edition "Le Ventoux, sommet de la folie" (for anyone interested). A lot of photographs and the stories of each time the Tour went up this mountain.
About the Simpson's death it says that at Bedoin he went into a bar and emptied half bottle of brandy and that in his pockets they found amphetamines. So I think that all the water can help you if you deliberately have sipped brandy before the climb:confused:
And it's not only Simpson's death. In 1955 Jean Mallejac collapsed and it took them about one hour to re-give him consciousness. Merckx himself needed some breaths of oxygen after the 1970's finish.
Mallejac's case was more Simpson-wise. The Tour doctor (Dumas) found that he had some pills with him and the exams in the hospital confirm it. He went to the police and accused his trainer for poisoning and he begun a battle to introduce doping controls in the Tour. It took him 10 years.
 
May 25, 2009
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I was going up MV on the day of the Tour arrived there in 2002. I used 39x28 if I recall, and still found it very hard indeed, stopped quite a few times, and didn't event reached the desert part, when the Caravan arrived.

It's a hard climb.
Enough to watch footage from this year's Etape d'Tour, many people pushing their bikes, many on tripples, and it wasn't particularly long or hard to get to the foot of the Ventoux.
 
Jul 4, 2009
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I climbed it in the early hours of Saturday morning having come from Montelimar. It took a very long time (but then, I was on my mountain bike with 45kg of gear). Because I did it at night the temperature was OK, the length was OK, and the gradient was OK as well (did I say mountain bike? Most gradients are OK when you have a 22*34 (and yes, I am talking front*back) to call on if you need it) but the wind was the killer. I rode fine until about 5km from the top, but then was getting literally blown off the road. I had to get off and walk, and ended up getting on and off about 5 times over the last 5km (you can read about it here if you are interested: http://sites.google.com/site/tourletour/blog-posts-1/day29-onelastbigclimb). So I say it is the wind. Mind you, I have also talked to guys who rode it without a breathe of wind, and they tell me it was the heat. And either way, there was that looming aspect playing with your mind... Maybe it is just that it is a mountain that always has something to whallop you with.
 
Jul 23, 2009
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RdBiker said:
Many professional riders have said that in their mind the climb is the hardest one in France. So that may be one reason.

I'm no pro, but I've ridden up Ventoux from Bedoin five times over the years. I rate it the hardest climb in France that I've done.

I rank it a level above Tourmalet, Izoard, Madeleine, Telegraph/Galibier. I'd rank Alpe d'Huez a level down again, along with Pailheres, Hautacam, Aubisque, Marie Blanc, Glandon and others.

(For the record, the hardest climb I've done is Mortirolo).
 
workingclasshero is right. I rode up it from Bedoin in 2000 and 2003. Of course we weren't racing (well, a little friendly competition with others in the party), but it just wasn't that bad.

We rode from Avignon on the Tour rest day in 2003. Non-stop to the top, and descended into Malaucene for beer and pizza.

The only photo from that day was taken by another member of the party. He was smitten with the waitress at the bar in Malaucene. We thought he was going to stay in France:

101-0133_IMG.jpg
 
Mar 10, 2009
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www.rolfraehansen.com
Inch Worm said:
I'm no pro, but I've ridden up Ventoux from Bedoin five times over the years. I rate it the hardest climb in France that I've done.

I rank it a level above Tourmalet, Izoard, Madeleine, Telegraph/Galibier. I'd rank Alpe d'Huez a level down again, along with Pailheres, Hautacam, Aubisque, Marie Blanc, Glandon and others.

(For the record, the hardest climb I've done is Mortirolo).

I've only ridden Ventoux once, from Bedoin, but didn't find it too bad. The morning I rode up it was raining and cool (towards the end of a daly long thunderstorm) but I can imagine it being much harder in the heat.

The hardest climbs I've done in terms of combined length and gradient is probably the Stelvio from Prato, or as you Inch Worm, the Mortirolo. I do think the weather makes a huge difference (perhaps stating the obvious). The worst experiences I've had on climbs were bad days during the heat, as I am awful in the heat. I have harsh memories of struggling up La Madelaine, and worse of tackling the Sierra Nevada in Spain on a seriously hot afternoon.
 
Actually, here's us on the approach... You can see why it's got this reputation. It "looms" over the surrounding area, and you can see it from miles and miles.

(The guy with the Mapei kit is the one who fel in love wityh the waitress!)

101-0132_IMG.jpg
 
Jul 23, 2009
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rolfrae said:
I've only ridden Ventoux once, from Bedoin, but didn't find it too bad. The morning I rode up it was raining and cool (towards the end of a daly long thunderstorm) but I can imagine it being much harder in the heat.

I think it also depends on how you approach a climb - some climbs can be far more straight forward if you were to, say, chuck it in a triple and just spin up at sightseer effort, whereas others are hard whatever the 'effort'.

But when it comes to nose on the bars effort, I don't think there are any harder in France than Ventoux.
 
Jul 13, 2009
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I really have to plan a trip to France and Italy and try some of these climbs. I am definitely no climber by anyone's standard, but I sure think it would be nice to add to my palmares.