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July 21, 2005 - Drive from Nimes to Avignon to Marseille

Ride Mt Ventoux, Visit Avignon










Well, today is the day of our last climb and it is one we have all been waiting for, Mt Ventoux, the Giant of Provennce.  Our original plan had been to park in Malaucene and ride though the rolling hills prior to climbing. Parking was very sparse there, so we decided to drive to Bedoin and after seeing the ride, it’s probably a good thing we didn’t stick with the plan. The road was very hilly and while it wasn’t beyond any of our capabilities, Mt Ventoux intimidated us and the extra riding would not have helped. We ended up parking at the base of the climb In Bedoin right neat this cathedral.


The early slopes were not too bad and it was fund to ride though the vineyards for which this area is known. It was unbelievably hot, so it was nice to get into the trees and to start climbing. There were people camping on the side of the road who all were trying to pour water over us to keep us cool.  The lower slopes were through a nice pine forest and the road was in very good shape. Eventually, the road kicked up and became challenging, although I think the Col du Tourmalet was much more difficult at that point.

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As we reached Chalet Raynard, the remaining task became quite clear with the view ahead.

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Above this point, the road really kicked up and that was compounded by the mistral winds which were really blowing alternately in our face, from the back and side to side. The side to side was the worst as these winds could literally blow you across the road. The desolate conditions were just awe-inspiring.  I’m sure I was suffering greatly during this part of the climb, but between the riders drafting and the winds clowing, I was more concerned with surviving to the top than the physical pain I was in.

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The wind was worst at the top where I was blown off my bike when going around the last hairpin turn. I didn’t know it at the time, but this ride would be fantastic raining for another classic mountain climb that Tom and I would be doing an a month and that is the Mt Washington Hillclimb in New Hampshire.  The conditions on Mt Washington were strikingly similar to Mt Ventoux with the exception of having to deal with clouds, mist, sleet and a gravel road in addition to the wind. Yes, Mt Ventoux was excellent training.

It was interesting that there were candy vendors at the top of the mountain. Seems strange based on hoe inhospitable it was up there.

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Here's a vid I took from the top that shows what it was like. You can hear the wind blowing pretty strongly.


The views were also spectacular and Mt Ventoux remains one of my favorite climbs in the world due to the conditions, the scenery and the history.

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Speaking of history, like everyone else, we all stopped to visit the Tom Simpson memorial. As you may or may not know, Tom Simpson passed away during the 1967 Tour de France on this spectacular mountain.

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Total Ascent Distance: 20.8 km (12.5 miles)

Distance Climbed: 5148 ft

Time: 2 Hours 0 Minutes (Ascent)

Mt Ventoux Ride Ventoux


Upon returning to the bottom, we all had to pack away our bikes in our transport cases, clean up the van a bit and get ready for the trip home tomorrow.

The van had pretty much been our home for two weeks and it sure looked like it.

Finally we were packed and ready to go to Avignon to have some lunch. 


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Avignon is a neat place and was the papal home for a period of time. It isn’t quite as medieval as Carcassonne, but it had it’s own charm.

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Tom was always willing to be the subject for our pictures, here standing with one of the papal guards

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There is vehicle traffic in Avignon and it was interesting to see how cars were allowed to enter and exit the walled city

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Avignon is a very artistic city and while we ate lunch, this troop of minstrels came by.

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We then left Avignon and headed for the Best Western at the airport in Marseilles where we would depart tomorrow for home. We had one last dinner in the hotel by the pool before turning in for the night satisfied that we had a great trip.