Ventoux project,

The challenge

Club des Cinglés du Mont
Ventoux – Three assents of Mont
Ventoux within 24 hours

Cinglés: the French word for ‘mad’ or ‘bonkers’

Assent 01

Breath in the history!

1,620m climbing
7.5% average gradient
12.4% maximum gradient 21.5km
1,620m climbing
7.5% average gradient
12.4% maximum gradient

My day had finally come. On the way to Bedoin I felt sick. Sick with fear and sick from excitement. I went to a local boulangerie to get my first Cinglés stamp. I drank a coffee, ate a croissant (which was difficult to get down) and prepared myself to roll out for the first of the three assents.

The start of the climb is a ‘gentle’ 6KM. You can see the lights of the tower in the distance. Then you hit the feared forest section — 10KM averaging over 9%. There was something really magical about ascending in the dark in a forest steeped in cycling history.

Shortly after breaking through the forest you reach Chalet Reynard. I had heard so much about this place as it is a constant Ventoux reference point. It signals the final, iconic and brutal 6KM section. The lunar landscape is familiar. I felt like I’ve climbed it before as I have seen it so many times on the TV during ‘the tour’. It’s spectacular and intimidating. The last 2 KM played with my head. The oxygen is thinner and again it ramps up to over 9%. Then within the last kilometre you reach the Tommy Simpson memorial. The last few metres of this ascent was for Tommy — he couldn’t make it but I certainly could. On the summit, the sun was up, and so was I. Ascent one completed. My body complied and I loved every bloody moment.

Assent 02

Head down!

1,570m climbing
7.5% average gradient
15.9% maximum gradient 21.2km
1,570m climbing
7.5% average gradient
15.9% maximum gradient

The descent back down to Malaucene was cold, long and steep. I had climbed this side in 2015, it was a painful and unpleasant day. I began to feel a little nervous and anxious as each kilometre brought back bad memories. This triggered a pain flare up. By the time I was at the bottom I was in agony. I had to go back to the apartment and try and get on top of it. I showered, stretched, refuelled and changed. It was clear that the Malaucene ascent was going to be tough. I made my way out onto the climb in a lot of pain. I knew I had to get my head down and battle through this.

The entire 21KM felt relentless. My body was protesting and the road continued to ramp. All I remember are the green arrows on the side of the road and the desire to have just one more gear. This was the mental battle I was expecting — me against my pain and the road. Remembering the massive support I had received was the only reason as to why I didn’t step off the bike.

Then with about 4KM to go I could finally see the tower. It was at this point I felt like it could be done. The last 2KM’s were super emotional. I was absolutely exhausted from the pain, I felt broken but I was too close to give in now! I turned the final corner to see the ramp up onto the tower and the famous ‘Sommet du Ventoux’ sign . I had broken the back of the beast but it had very nearly broken me.

Assent 03

Believe and it will happen!

1,210m climbing
4.7% average gradient
12.4% maximum gradient 25.8km
1,210m climbing
4.7% average gradient
12.4% maximum gradient

I descended down to Sault to collect my last Cingles stamp. My body was exhausted. I was not sure I had the legs for the remaining 26km climb. I had time to refuel before needing to head off onto my final ascent. I rode past the lavender fields and made my way to the forest sector.

The gradient was gentle which helped the legs immensely. In comparison to the previous climbs the 4 and 5% felt like a gentle spin down after a hard session. As every kilometre passed I felt excited and more confident. I began to allow myself to really believe I could do this! Thoughts of the hours on the bike, the highs and lows went through my mind. I was about to realise something I had been working towards for so long — and it felt so damn good! It was this confidence and motivation that projected me up the last 6KMs. In the distance I could see the tower. No longer was it intimidating, it just looked glorious in the evening light! I finally reached the summit — just me and the tower. It was over. Chronic pain, you lost this battle!

Club des Cinglés du Mont Ventoux

Total distance
Total ascent
Maximum gradient