As I waited with anticipation at an ancient fountain in the village of Bédoin for my husband to complete his third ride of Mont Ventoux, I spotted him. Anxiously, I asked, “How did it go?” Grinning but determined, he said, “I’m never doing this again!” Famous last words!
After unwinding for a few minutes in the bliss of a cyclists’ mecca, the next words uttered were, “Well, maybe I’ll do it again next week.” Yes. The love-hate relationship with the mighty Giant.
In the Vaucluse department of Provence, the Giant does not go unnoticed as it looms, making itself visible as you make your way from village to village and from café to café. And so with each croissant, every scoop of nougat glacé, and every bit of bread and cheese, it’s as if Ventoux is taunting you saying, “Go ahead and eat that croissant, that pain au chocolat, those steak frites, that scrumptious piece of moelleux au chocolat because I’ll be waiting here to destroy you!”
Thus, my husband decided that perhaps his diet of croissants, pain au chocolat, steak frites, and desserts was not working so well for him the week before a ride. Perhaps a better plan would be to conquer Ventoux as soon as we arrive before the gluttony begins.
But what a thrill to finish such a challenging ride! As you get close to the finish, photographers cheer you on as they take your picture and tuck their business card into your jersey so that you can contact them later to purchase your victory photo. A bit of a tourist trap? So be it! It’s genius. And besides, how many tourists actually arrive at the top of Mont Ventoux by bicycle?
Later, I got a description of what each stage of the ride felt like as we drove to the top. What an amazing place! Such barren and different scenery than the land below. And naturally there were food and wine at the top.
Looking for a place to rent a bike in the Luberon? La Coquillade resort has a BMC Cycling Centre. The only sad part is having to return the bike at the end of your trip.