First post here and looking for advice. I am cycling mt ventoux with work in June - looking for general advice really, I've been given a training schedule and wattbike useage but want to find out other details - like where is the hardest part etc?
I suppose you're going to climb it from the Bédoin-side, which is the most used and the hardest. If so, here you can find a lot of info of the climb, with profile, other details and stories by others who have climbed the mountain before.
I did it in November and we just dont have anything like it in the UK. No single part of it is stupidly steep, but it is just a relentless 9% plus once you are into the forest (the first 5k are easy). About halfway up there is one klik which is 12% according to the white and yellow markers. After Chalet Reynard you will think it is not so steep because you have seen it on TV, where you cant judge the gradient, and you have seen mental doped up attacks at 25 kmh.
It is still steep so dont congratulate yourself. The last 2 klik are 10% so be prepared. The wind can be a real drag too.
If you want to train, focus on climbing below your threshold at a steady pace for a long time, and do the easy bit at the start aerobically so you dont use up blood sugar.
If you are a fit amateur it is very doable, but hard. And you will still be 30 minutes behind the Gruppetto time
I'd suggest doing it soon after sunrise. The wind seems to be less of an issue first thing in the morning. Also, there is no shade for the last 7k or so. Make sure to save some energy for the descent. The top half has a good road surface, relatively wide open corners rather than hairpins, and a clear line of sight in most places. You can let it rip.
I just climbed it 2 weeks ago. The hardest part is the middle section in the forest. There is no place to hide, take it easy, go your own pace, do not push it. After the chalet Reynard it's a little bit easy but longer than what you might think. I agree, a compact or even a triple (my rental bike had one) is the way to go. Enjoy it, the views are amazing if it's not cloudy. Do it twice and you'll have something to brag about for a long time. Up Bedoin, down to malaucene and back up. Good luck.
my lowest gear was 34:25 and I didnt want anything smaller, but 39:25 would have been too hard now i am past 40.
It is on climbs like this that 11 speed makes sense - 34:25 will get you up anything, but sometimes the next gear up eg 34:21 is to much on 8/9/10 speed and you want that extra cog.
This will come across as ridiculous kit fettling but you will see what I mean at some point in the climb.
Be prepared for variable weather. When we did it forecast was 16C for Bedoin, anc clear skies for Chalet Reynard, which would mean 6C at the summit. When we got to Bedoin it was 8C and we could not see Ventoux. It was fine, if a little damp to Chalet Reynard, but after than we were in the cloud, it was mental windy, 2 foot of snow at the side of the road. The coldest I have been on a bike ever.
We were so cold we didnt even take pix at the top. The descent back to Chalet Reynard was terrifying as the road was covered in water and I was in pain from the cold.
When we walked into the Cafe the Madam took one look at us and conjured up some sugar cubes in pure alcohol. After 3 coffees and 2 more sugar cubes I felt human, and rather marvellous.
The descent back to Bedoin was cold t first, but as we warmed up as we got lower we started to enjoy the amazing road surface (in the Uk roads are terrible) and nice angle on the bends ( no horrible switchbacks which tighten unexpectedly).
Enjoy it first of all, the Ventoux is breathtaking which ever side you go up and the fact you can see it for miles around, makes it a very mythical place. Still have shivers down my spine everytime I think about riding past Tom's memorial.
Remember this is a climb that deserves a lot of respect, don't underestimate how difficult it is. If you go up from Bedoin, you'll be tempted to blast it from the village along the false flat that takes you to the St Esteve hairpin as it's pretty easy... A word of advice,don't! The real climb begins at St Esteve as you swing left and enter the forest. Don't worry if lots of people overtake you on that first stretch, because if you're clever, you'll pick them off one by one as the climb proper begins. If it's your first time up, you really do need to pace yourself and save as much energy as you can, whenever you can. Try to recover when you get to Chalet Renard, remember there is still 6km to go and it's very hard. The last corner to the top is horribly steep, but when you get to the top you'll feel fantastic.
Climbing from Malaucene is just as hard, less exposed to the wind, but you're more likely to be on your own. Never climbed from Sault. Either way you come down, be careful, the descent is very fast, and i've had one or two hairy moments. For gearing, a 34x25 is not over cautious by a long way. Weatherwise, if you can't see the top, forget it until the next day.
But most of all enjoy the place and enjoy every minute of the climb, it's a very, very special mountain.
Apart from the wind on the climb, which has been mentioned above, do take care on the roads around Bédoin and Malaucène. Every summer, tourists from all over Europe drive down to the Vaucluse, bringing their ignorance together with their suitcases: some are less patient towards / clued in to the whole Ventoux cycling legend than others! And above all, enjoy the sufferation on that beautiful climb! What I love about it is how you can see it for many kms before you arrive at the foot. (I haven't actually ridden up it on a bike, I must admit, but it's lovely)
The toughest parts from Bédoin are in my opinion the beginning and then the end of course. In the middle it gets easier by the Chalet Rainard.
What's really important though is that you are realistic about the distance. The problem is that you can see the summit from a long ways down, so you keep telling yourself it's not that far anymore. At least that's what I did - when I came to the part where the vegetation stops (I think that's also where the road from Sault comes in), I was already on my limit but I thought it wasn't that far anymore. But really those 6 kms are the hardest by far, they seem to go on forever.
Unfortunately I couldn't finish, I decided to stop with roughly 2 kms to go. I think that at this point, trying to go on would have been seriously dangerous, as I started having problems with keeping my balance.
Also if you go anytime from May to September I'd say it would be the very best to start early in the morning, because around mid-day it gets really really hot (around 30 degrees celsius in June, July, August).
Bring enough water, enough food (that was also one of my mistakes I think).
So yeah I didn't finish but I'm still really happy I did it and it was a lot of fun! I was down there again a month ago but it was too cold to try and ride up (the road from Malaucène was even closed because of snow). Plus I hadn't been riding enough until then.
I hope to try again soon and then hopefully make it!