Crazy Cols: Bicinglé du Ventoux…my Mt Ventoux story

bicingle-du-ventoux-challenge

Located 1912 m above sea level, stands one of the most breathtaking, challenging, and exquisite mountains in the Provence, France. Mont Ventoux is a part of the Alps but with its exceptionally secluded positioning and being away from the other mountains that are similar to its height, it stands out. Mont Ventoux consequently oversees places such as Vaucluse, Drome, and Rhone Valley. This mountain is like no other. It has so much more to offer than just being a cycling climb. Its history and its mythical statue in the Provence have given so much to the region. This is my story of this precious mountain and the bicinglé du Ventoux. Enjoy!

General information Mont Ventoux

The mountain’s name goes back to the 1st or 2nd century AD when it was originally named Vintur; named after a Gaulish god of the mountains. Another name was Ven-Top which means snowy peak in the language of the old Gauls. It was until the 10th century when the name Mons Ventosus was used for this mountain.

The name Ventoux comes from the French word ‘Venteux’ which means windy. This is due to the summit’s violent winds that flow so effortlessly through the mountain roads with an average wind speed of 90 kms per hour 240 days a year. A while ago even speeds of almost 320 km/h were recorded. This was one of the most powerful wind speeds ever recorded on the summit of this dominant mountain. There are days when the pass is closed due to these violent winds. The horrible wind namely can become dangerous for those wanting to experience the thrill and adventure of the mountain. No wonder, the mountain is given nicknames such as ‘Beast of Provence’ and ‘The Giant of Provence’.

The lunar and unique landscape of the Mont Ventoux summit
The lunar and unique landscape of the Mont Ventoux summit

From a 15th century chapel to a lunar landscape

Mont Ventoux has wonderful tops of limestone with no trees or any sort of vegetation, which is very unique in Europe as most of the mountains in Europe are known to have at least some vegetations on their summits. The summit resembles a lunar landscape. The roads on the mountain are an adventure on itself: you’ll find smooth roads that suddenly lead to thrilling corners and turns that leave you feeling exhilarated. Moreover, the drive on Mont Ventoux takes you through the clouds till you reach the top where there is a weather station along with a 15th-century chapel. History tells that the chapel on the top was dedicated to the Holy Cross. Right on the top of Mont Ventoux, you have a 360 degrees view of the Provence.

Unique habitats, biotopes and microclimates

Mont Ventoux falls under the UNESCO Biosphere reserve with various types of fauna and flora. Nature lovers will bump into a unique habitat and biotope of thousands of plants and animals. Thanks to the different slopes present on the mountain with their particular variations and climate, one will be able to admire various biotopes, microclimates and ecotones. Many different types of spiders and butterflies are unique and can only be found on Mont Ventoux. Lucky ones will also be able to spot the majestic short-toed eagle.

The Mont Ventoux in cycling history

Mont Ventoux has been the talk in cycling town for many years and for cyclists all around the world. It is considered a privilege and a gift if one is given the opportunity to ride this mountain. The ones who complete it and reach the top are known as heroes who have the commitment, willpower, and strength to cycle and climb one of the hardest cols in the world. Without perseverance and a good physical condition it is impossible to reach the top in a successful and safe (healthy-wise) way.

Tour de France

The Mont Ventoux became well known quite recently when it was a part of the Tour de France for the first time in 1951 and then later in 1958 when it was climbed during the last leg of the race. Cyclists all around the world are drawn to this mountain for the chance of cycling its flanks and reaching the top.

Simpson Memorial

Mont Ventoux gained more popularity when the unfortunate death of the British cyclist Tom Simpson took place on the 13th of July 1967. It was said that many factors contributed to the cause of his death such as lack of water, dehydration from that day’s heat, diarrhea, amphetamine, alcohol, and the use of drugs to enhance his endurance for the ride. His will to keep on fighting the climb lead to his death… he collapsed half a mile from the summit. It was after Tom Simpson’s death in the Tour de France, the first anti-doping rules were implemented in 1986. He was a British Olympic medallist, had won three classic monuments, and was given the title of World Champion in San Sebastián in 1965.

The next years, this sad and unfortunate event led to fear among the cyclists that decided to climb the Mont Ventoux. The big mountain even became one of the most frightened and symbolic parts of Tour de France. Its fame of being a grueling climb nevertheless has also drawn millions of cyclists all around the world. There is a commemoration made for Tim Simpson near the summit, on the right while climbing from Chalet Reynard, where many cyclists and cyclo-tourists pay their respect by visiting and leaving little tokens of remembrance. 

The Simpson memorial
The Simpson memorial

From Merckx to Poli

The severity of the the mountain, its eminence, the typical lunar landscape at the upper part, the waves of continuous wind, the height, the legends which have conquered its flanks, the altitude, the heroic stories and cycling moments in history… there are many reasons why cyclists from all over the world have put the Giant of the Provence on their bucket list. Mont Ventoux is a tour icon that just holds way too much glory for the cyclist not to conquer. Cyclists such as Eddy Merckx rode it till their last breath to try to finish the climb even if it meant almost collapsing and passing out. It was in 1970 when Merckx won the Tour after almost fainting but thankfully he received oxygen that helped him to regain his strength.

In 1994, Eros Poli arrived first in the Ventoux stage of the Tour even though he wasn’t a typical climbing goat. Each story, each race, each challenge, each experience, each legend,… adds to the fact no one wants to give up when climbing the Mont Ventoux and each of us will do everything in his or her power to reach the summit.

1970 Tour de France stage on the Mont Ventoux

2016: the last cmimb

The Tour de France has finished at the summit of Mont Ventoux ten times, with the finish line being at an altitude of 1909m. It was in September 2008 when the president of the Vaucluse province; Claude Haut, stated the 2009 Tour de France would include Mont Ventoux. It had been absent for seven years. Just to stress its notorious character: The stage of Mont Ventoux in 2016 was shortened by 6 km when it was forecasted that the weather would have rough winds at the summit.

A moment of ultimate glory

Years and years of history show how Mont Ventoux and the Tour de France are undeniably and eternally linked to each other. No wonder many cyclists are pushing themselves to the core just to gain the title of Mont Ventoux cycling king or queen. It is fascinating to see how a summit can bring the ultimate fulfillment for cyclists and how their dedication, perseverance, and hard work becomes a moment of ultimate glory when they reach the top.

The 3 different Mont Ventoux Climbs 

The Mont Ventoux from Malaucène

Malaucène is considered as the less popular sister of Bédoin as most of the stages of the Tour de France have gone via the Bédoin climb. Each climb is unique though so there ois no use comparing both. But please, don’t underestimate the Malaucène col. This is as tough as riding from the Bédoin side. This route is considered as the widest one from the 3 roads that are climbing to the top. It is also the only one that has a separate riding lane for cyclists (except for the last part of the ascent). Since the wind mostly comes from the north-west, cyclists climbing the Ventoux from Malaucène can often benefit from tailwinds.

Malaucène is a 21.2 km long route that has an average gradient of 7.2% and a maximum gradient of 12%. The elevation gain is +/- 1570 metres; you start at 332 metres and you climb to 1896 metres. The Malaucène climb has beautiful views, is extremely serene if riding on a low traffic day but don’t let it fool you, it’s as challenging as the Bédoin side.

The Mont Ventoux climb profile from Malaucène (source: climbfinder.com)
The Mont Ventoux climb profile from Malaucène (source: climbfinder.com)

The Mont Ventoux from Bédoin

Often referred to as the most brutal ride of the three; Bédoin. This is the route that has been featured in the Tour de France 15 times and which has a gradient of 9-19% from Saint Estève to Chalet Reynard. Climbing Mont Ventoux via Bédoin is the most preferable way for cyclists hoping to successfully climb the Ventoux. It is popular because of the steep forest part, Chalet Reynard and because it is the route that Tom Simpson died on. The Bédoin climb is at the top of each cyclist’s bucket list.

A smooth start and the fearsome forest

It is a 21.5 km long ride where cyclists initially pass the lush vineyard landscapes, cherry orchards, and beautiful olive groves. The beginning could be best described as being a smooth start. But that’s quiet before the storm. The next part namely is where cyclists feel the wrath of the mountain. The route suddenly becomes more difficult when you enter the forest which has merciless roads with the gradient increasing to 9% or higher. This is where most riders start to struggle. The twisting and narrow roads of the Bédoin forest leave the cyclists on their toes while riding. With the intense wind hitting your body and making it even harder for cyclists to push their pedals, Bédoin becomes a brutal ride.

Leaving the forest there is still 6 km to cycle until the top. Don’t underestimate that last part from Chalet Reynard to the top. When the wind blows in the wrong direction (read headwinds) the lunar landscape offers no protection. Fighting the wind and an average gradient of 8% with the last km having an average around 10%, this is still a hard part to face.

Climb profile Mont Ventoux from Bédoin
The Mont Ventoux climb profile from Bédoin (source: climbfinder.com)

The Mont Ventoux from Sault

This ascent is known as the easiest of the three approaches, thanks to the town already being on a plateau. Hence you are already starting from a higher elevation. The roads from this route are extremely smooth and create a steady rhythm whereby cyclists don’t even feel like they’re climbing the Ventoux. Though this route is longer (25.7 km) than the other two, it has an average slope of 4.5% and a maximum slope of 11%. The most difficult part is the last 6 kilometres. These 6 kilometres are the same as the last one from the Bédoin climb. They lead you from Chalet Reynard to the top.

The Mont Ventoux climb profile from Sault (source: climbfinder.com)
The Mont Ventoux climb profile from Sault (source: climbfinder.com)

Tips for cycling up Mont Ventoux

Here are some tips you can consider when planning to climb the Mont Ventoux regardless of which route you choose.

  1. You must train for this journey. Cyclists will struggle if they are not healthy and fit for the climb.
  2. You must wear proper clothes and have the proper bike wear for the summit. Leg warmers, arm warmers, a windproof jacket are the bare minimum.
  3. Create a proper plan beforehand with all the information and details.
  4. Understand the mountain in terms of weather, traffic, roads, routes, etc.
  5. Choose a day where the skies are clear, the clouds are hidden, and the sun is out. Check the forecast a day before and the morning of your ride just to catch any changes and be aware the summers can be really hot.
  6. Lastly, enjoy and make the best once in a lifetime memories that you’ll cherish forever.

My Mont Ventoux Bicinglé du Ventoux Adventure

September 2019… I have always been enchanted by the Mont Ventoux. The Tour the France stages, the Ventoux challenges of friends and family,… The first time I climbed it was 2017. I clearly remember how we, me and my brother in law, reached the top while walls of snow guided us from Chalet Renard to the Simpson Memorial. It must have been early April. Since that day the Giant of the Provence left an inedible impression.

In September 2019 I decided to go the extra Mount Ventoux mile. Climbing it once had been an unforgettable experience, but it wasn’t really a challenge anymore at that time. I set myself a new target: Climbing the Mont Ventoux 3 times on one day or what the locals call the Cinglé du Ventoux. This mighty mountain has 3 climbs. If you finish them all within 24 hours you can call yourself a Cinglé du Ventoux! The goal was set… the target date: July 2020. At that moment in time I wasn’t even aware there was something called bicinglé du Ventoux 😊

Did you know by the way the French word Cinglés means bonkers in English?

Rheumatic arthritis

One of the reasons I wanted to set and achieve this goal is my rheumatic arthritis. I have been a rheumatology patient for many years. The first years were a real hell. It was a quest to find the right medicine (if there was a right medicine) to suppress my joint inflammation. Taking anti-inflammatory drugs (2 to 3 pills) made me feel depressed. It was a heavy burden both on my professional and my personal life. Luckily, my partner was there to support me at all times.

In the end, I was one of the lucky ones. We found a medicine (Enbrel) which suppressed the inflammation of my joints. It was the start of a new era for me; being able to walk and sport again without pain was an incredible feeling. No, I can’t play soccer anymore and no I can’t run anymore but at least I can do other sports like cycling and yes, even tour skiing. Grateful I can at least pick up my life again thanks to the medical world and being familiar with rheumatic pain, I am a big supporter of several leagues and associations against rheumatism.

By completing the cinglé du Ventoux, the bicinglé du Ventoux and the everesting challenge in one go, I wanted to prove that even people suffering from autoimmune disorders like rheumatic disorders can achieve incredible goals! If you only just believe…  Never give up and keep battling!

The first months of preparation

To prepare for such a challenge as the cinglé du Ventoux, two aspects matters: your physical condition and your weight.

Weight loss

Especially for a cinglé or bicinglé du Ventoux, your weight is of crucial importance. The less weight you have to carry while climbing a mountain the less effort and power you will have to produce. And you can imagine that saving energy is crucial is for such endurance rides. There are tens of articles which will tell you in detail what losing 1 kilogram means for your climbing effort. As part of my preparation I read a few articles about the effect of losing weight on my performance. I found the below one interesting and clear:

https://www.bicycling.com/training/g20033781/by-the-numbers-how-losing-weight-improves-cycling-performance/

The definition of losing weight is quite simple and straightforward: If you burn more calories than your calorie intake, you lose weight. But be careful, drastic weight loss might lead to muscle deterioration. A balanced lifestyle, a realistic weight loss and sufficient time are therefore crucial. To give you an idea of my realistic weight loss. At the start of my bicinglé du Ventoux preparation I weighted 83 kilograms with a height 184 cm. At the start of my actual bicinglé du Ventoux I weighted 78 kilograms. So, 10 months later I lost 5 kilograms, which is /- 500 grams per month. 1 lb or 500 grams per month is very realistic taking into account you also need energy to increase your physical condition.  

Physical condition

A second aspect is your physical condition. In September 2019 I was a very average cyclist, having an ftp of around 240. I had about 10 months to enhance this condition. The first months of preparation are therefore vital. These were the so-called off-season months: October/November/December/January/February. Months most cyclists decrease their training efforts. For me it was a period to enhance my basis. I gradually increased the length of my rides. During the winter times I did a lot of long endurance rides of 3 to 4 hours at heart rate zone 2 and zone 3.

Heart rate zones

Find below a chart which shows you the different heart rate zones. At which heart rate you need to train differs from one person to another. Best is to take a physical condition test which determines your zones (some prepare themselves based on their heart rates zones, others based on their FTP-. I didn’t have a power meter at that time so I based myself on my heart rate zones. The new trend though is to focus on wattage/power training.

To keep myself motivated and to bring some variety to my workouts, I attended a spinning class once a week and once or twice a week I did a 60 to 90 minutes Interval training on Zwift. In total I did around 5 workouts per week during the first 5 off-season months. It must have been end of February, I did my first 200 km ride which kept me on my bike 6 to 7 hours. I still remember how proud and happy I was at that time 😊 The first intermediate target met!

You need these long endurance trainings because a cinglé du Ventoux keeps you around 8 hours on your bike. A bicinglé du Ventoux would even mean 16 hours on your bike.

The last 6 months: corona season

I survived the winter months quite well. No injuries, no pain, no fatigue and clearly an enhanced physical condition. I hadn’t only trained on my bike; but also off my bike. Core stability exercises twice a week, less saturated fat consumption, breathing exercises to increase my lung capacity and so on.

Target change: bicinglé du Mont Ventoux

March 2020… that’s when all hell broke loose. Covid-19 (Corona)… a pandemic which changed our life maybe not for good but at least for 2020. The only positive thing about this pandemic is the fact I suddenly had more time to train. That’s when I found out about the so-called other “cinglés”. The Club des Cinglés du Mont Ventoux also offers the possibility to do a galérien or a bicinglé du Mont Ventoux. The galérien means 3 times the Mont Ventoux by road bike and one additional time with your mountain bike on one day. The bicinglé du Mont Ventoux in its turn means 6 times the Mont Ventoux (each climb twice) on one day. 6 times also equals 274 km and 8800 hm.

It took me a week or two, and some discussions with my wife 😊, to set a new target… the bicinglé du Ventoux. I even decided to set the target a bit higher: a few kilometers more to reach the height of the Mount Everest (8848 metres) too. Two targets in one 😊

Bicinglé du Ventoux: the 3 different categories
Bicinglé du Ventoux: the 3 different categories

Endurance, endurance, endurance and climbing

New targets mean a new training plan. Endurance became more important than ever before… and of course climbing meters. The weather became better and the rides became longer and higher. From September 2019 until End of June 2020 I cycled about 12000 kilometers and climbed about 120.000 altitude meters. With regard to endurance rides, I did 8 x 200+ km rides and 3 x 300+ km rides in total. During your training it’s very important to mainly focus on your sweet spot training.  The sweet spot is located between high zone 3 and low zone 4: between 84% to 97% of your FTP (power at threshold). For riders who are not using a power meter or heart rate meter, the sweet spot could be described as your medium-hard level. This is the zone you will be mainly riding during your Mont Ventoux climb.

The magic day

The 4th of July 2020… 4 o’clock in the morning… the day the Ventoux magic was going to happen. We were staying in a small B&B in the center of Malaucène. A chilly but gentle wind blew through the streets of this little cycling village. I kissed my wife goodbye, took a deep breath and off I went. My plan was to climb the Malaucène side twice first, followed by twice the Bédoin climb to end by climbing the easiest side twice last; the Sault side.

By the way: I had 3 days to choose from. But as the name Ventoux suggests, you always have to take into account the wind on this breathtaking mountain (Vent means wind in English). So the 4th of July was the best moment from a wind perspective.

Me in the early morning of my bicinglé du Ventoux
Me in the early morning of my bicinglé du Ventoux

Twice the Malaucène climb: 21,2 km / 1570 m climbing / 7,5% avg gradient x 2

The streets were dark, deserted and peaceful, dimly lit by the rows of suburban porch lights. Not a soul in sight… suddenly I heard “Bonne chance!”. The local baker… unshaven but with a big smile on his face. He…the local hero…me, hopefully, 16 hours later…the Mt Ventoux hero!

The first climb went well. Accompanied by the moon, I enjoyed the view and kept a good pace. By the time I saw the top, 1 hour and 40 minutes later, the moon went to bed and the sun woke up. The first sun rays felt like warm hugs full of energy. What a wonderful feeling and what a view!! I took a few pictures and made my first descent, back to Malaucène. A chilly descent right to the local bakery to get my first bicinglé du Ventoux stamp. I filled my bottles, ate an energy bar and left straight away for my second Malaucène climb.

Bicinglé de ventoux challenge : climbing the Malaucène side
Bicinglé de ventoux challenge : climbing the Malaucène side

The first 2 kilometers I had to find back the good rhythm, my legs still feeling cold from the descent. My body protested a bit but this was just a short battle which I could still easily win. 2 kilometers later, I was back on track. Malaucène is known to have some steep parts over 15% gradient which I managed quite well. Reaching the top, I still felt ok… The first time I was a lonely soul at the top of the Mont Ventoux. Now, about 4 to 5 hours later… I greeted my first fellow climbers. I cycled to the mountain restaurant at the top and the owner gave me my second stamp. Bédoin here I come!

early morning Mont Ventoux Malaucène clim
Early morning Mont Ventoux Malaucène climb

Twice the Bédoin climb: 21,5 km / 1620 m climbing / 7,5% avg gradient

Descending through the forest to Bédoin, I felt the cold… harder than ever before. My fingers, arms and legs were freezing. It was difficult to remain concentrated, which is vital when descending. Gosh, how happy I was being back in town. At the Bédoin bakery I got another bicinglé du Ventoux stamp and I bought me a regional pastry specialty.  A bit refueled, my wife arrived in Bédoin by car. She refueled me with a second stream of energy by giving me some new energy drinks, energy bars, a new cycling kit and a big hug. Let this mental battle start….

The first kilometers were horrible. The cold is like a virus making you weaker minute after minute and hour after hour. The 30-minute descent to Bédoin had been more than a breath of fresh air. It had hit me to the chest, like a vacuum that wanted to suck the warmth out of my body. I must admit… I wasn’t really prepared for that cold. It didn’t go as planned but then the magic happened… My heart started to pump warm blood through my veins again. As if I was struck by the lightning. Another battle I won… I was ready for the rest of the war. Through the famous Bédoin forest, passing Chalet Renard and the Memorial Simpson I reached the Ventoux top for the third time. Three in a row… happy me! The restaurant owner gave me his second stamp of the day.

After my second climb there was the freezing descent to Bédoin
After my second climb there was the freezing descent to Bédoin (cycling kit: q36.5)

The second descent to Bédoin

The second descent to Bédoin was a much more pleasant one. Descending around noon, temperature had risen to a comfortable 25 degrees Celsius. Back in Bédoin I felt like reborn. Ready to tackle the same climb for a second time.

At the start of the climb though I also started to feel the first muscle pains. I had been on my bike for about 8 hours. I wasn’t absolutely exhausted yet, but I did feel the previous efforts. But hey, we haven’t been training for 10 months to give up after the 3rd climb. The temperature reached around 30 to 32 degrees Celsius. The hottest part of the day. When I reached the feared forest part, some fellow countrymen and my wife and daughter gave some massive support. Their cheers and support helped me through the most difficult part of the day. I was really suffering now. The average gradient in the forest is around 10% and it feels like it is a never-ending story before you finally reach Chalet Renard.

The last 6 km of my 2nd Bédoin climb

Seeing, the lunar landscape of the last 6 km of the Bédoin ascent was the most beautiful thing I had seen for a long time. It’s still 6 km but at least you feel and also see the end is near… in a positive way. I realized it’s often a mental game. A game you need to play but you shouldn’t lose. Think about the small things in life, think about the support, think about your past months,… all these things will help you to conquer and defeat the beast, in you and on the mountain.

At the top of the Mont Ventoux I met a bunch of enthusiastic and very friendly Italians (honestly, I only know enthusiastic and friendly Italians 😊 ). They admired my Bianchi bike and asked me about my goal of the day. We chit-chatted for a minute or 10… After the friendly tutti frutti, calzone and pizza, it was time to descent to Sault.

Twice the Sault Climb: 25,8 km / 1210 m climbing / 4,7% avg gradient

The descent to Sault was a very beautiful one. Especially, the last kilometers when you cycle through gorgeous purple lavender fields. Although it had already been a long and hard day, the Sault climb somehow feels like a blessing to your legs. Yes, it is the longest one but the 4,7% average gradient helps a lot. The hardest part is the one I had already done twice during the Bédoin climb, from Chalet Renard to the top.

Somehow though, although it is still more than 50 kilometers and more than 2400 meters of elevation gain, your target is within reach. And that thought gives your body and soul an extra boost. The boost you need to successfully finish those two last climbs. This is what I had been working for. Yes, you still feel the pain but you also get in a kind of trance mode. It’s you and the mountain… and you have won. I must admit the last climb was still a long one. I didn’t reach the speed of the first climb anymore… but at the same time the words “giving up” had never been in my dictionary.

The Lavender Fields of Sault
The Lavender Fields of Sault

Will you marry me?

I even found the force to ask my wife to marry me during the last climb… surrounded by lavender fields. Exhausted but right out of the heart. She had been there the whole year, the whole day, my whole life… to support me through thick and thin! My best friend, my lover, my girl… Will you marry me? Yes, I will. It sounded like music to my ears and gave me the last bit of energy to finish the final climb.

Mont Ventoux Cycling Clothing & Mont Ventoux Cycling Jersey

Have you ever been in one of the Mont Ventoux villages? Bédoin, Malaucène or Sault? Especially, the first two ones are cycling destinations par excellence! They really breathe cycling during the spring and summer months. They also offer a wide range of accommodations at walking distance of the charming village centers. Walking through the villages you will see many bike stores; not only selling bikes but also Mont Ventoux Cycling jerseys and cycling clothing in general. Most of them have low quality bike wear though. Except for two shops which immediately caught my eye: L’étape du Ventoux and the website of Sierra Sports and Tours. I am happy to present both to you.

The Sierra Sports & Tours Mont Ventoux Cycling Jersey

About Sierra Sports & Tours

Sierra Sports & Tours is more than just a nice collection of cycling clothing in honor of some of the most famous climbs worldwide. Sierra Sports & Tours is a team of passionate people who organizes adventurous cycling tours all around Europe. They offer some interesting standard packages and cycling tours both on road bike and on gravel bike. Besides their standard tours, they also offer custom-made private tours for small groups. Having talked to founder Paul personally, it is clear cycling is their powerful pathway to happiness and they are looking forward to sharing this passion with you.

If you are looking for cycling tours around the Mont Ventoux or any other place in Europe, Sierra Sports & Tours is the place to be. You can find them here.

The Mont Ventoux Cycling Jersey

Sierra Sports & Tours managed to design a stunning Mont Ventoux Cycling Jersey with subtle references to the bald giant of the Provence. The back of the Bordeaux red jersey contains a ‘South Side of the Moon’ slogan. The South Side of the Moon refers to the most famous Mont Ventoux ascent, the one from Bédoin aka as the southern approach. It’s the side being conquered by the greatest on earth like Chris Froome, Eros Poli, Richard Virenque, Marco Pantani and the Cannibal himself Eddy Merck. But it is also the ascent which will always be remembered as the last climb of British cyclist Tom Simpson who died a mile form the summit of the Mont Ventoux.

The front of the Mont Ventoux cyling jersey on its turn shows a big V and the number 1909. The V is not only the first letter of the mountain itself but is also the V of victory. For many people, reaching the top is one of their greatest victories ever, and rightfully so. It is an incredible achievement… just ask your aforementioned cycling heroes.  At 1,909 m (6,263 ft), number on the jersey, the Mont Ventoux is the highest mountain in the region.

This Mont Ventoux cycling jersey has clearly been designed with an eye for detail. I would personally recommend it to everyone who has conquered the mountain or who is still training to do so. I have worn the jersey myself during one of my Mont Ventoux ascents and it is high quality cycling apparel. It has a comfortable and aerodynamic fit and has been made of breathable fabrics. Ideal to climb this giant on sunny days!

Link to the Sierra Sports and Tours Mont Ventoux Cycling Jersey.

Other cycling clothing

Besides their popular Mont Ventoux cycling jersey, Sierra Sports and Tours has also designed cycling apparel in honor of cols like the Tourmalet, Alpe D’huez and the Stelvio. One by one beautiful examples of cycling craftsmanship.

A final word from the Sierra designer!

There are European peaks which tower over Mont Ventoux but it stands alone above the Provencal fields to form a truly iconic landscape. The southern approach from Bedoin is the famous Tour de France ascent and the inspiration for our ‘South Side of the Moon’ slogan designed on the back of the jersey. The 1909m elevation at the summit has also been worked into the jersey design. V is for Victory and scaling the ‘Geant de Provence’ will be one of your greatest cycling accomplishments yet!

L’étape du Ventoux shop: Mont Ventoux cycling jersey & Bike Rental

L’étape du Ventoux is what you can and should expect from a specialized bike store at the foot of the most famous cycling mountain of all, the Mont Ventoux. This Mont Ventoux Cycling clothing and bike rental shop consists in fact of 3 shops:

  •  L’étape du Ventoux shop in Bédoin : 340, rue Barral des Baux – Bédoin
  • L’etape du Ventoux shop in Malaucène : 10 Avenue de Verdun – Malaucène
  • L’etape du Ventoux shop in Beaumes de Venise 70, avenue Raspail – Beaumes de Venise

I have visited a few shops myself in both Malaucène and Bédoin and this one is by far the best. I didn’t need a bike myself, but they have a large bike rental assortment for very sharp prices. Brands that can be rented are Bianchi, Megamo and Gitane. They rent as well classic road race bikes as mountain bikes and even e-bikes.

My l'étape du ventoux cycling jersey
My l’étape du ventoux cycling jersey

A unique and high-quality Mont Ventoux cycling jersey

What immediately caught my eye was their Mont Ventoux Cycling Clothing and more specifically their Mont Ventoux Cycling Jerseys and Mont Ventoux cycling jackets. Contrary to some of the surrounding shops these are not low-quality fake brand shirts with a cheap print. High-quality bike wear brand Gobik and l’étape du Ventoux designed the jersey in close cooperation. The result is an eye-catching Mont Ventoux bike apparel assortment. I bought two Mont Ventoux cycling jerseys myself and I have been using them with full satisfaction so far. The Mont Ventoux cycling jersey has some nice and subtle details like a reference to the green, the yellow and polka dot Tour the France jersey.

So if you would like to buy a Mont Ventoux cycling jersey or jacket the place to be is one of the L’étape du Ventoux shops.

The best place to buy a Mont Ventoux Cycling Jersey online

No better way to commemorate your heroic Mont Ventoux climb or your passion for the Beast of the Provence by buying your own Mont Ventoux cycling jersey. If you want a cycling jersey which combines quality with subtle Mont Ventoux details go for a stunning Mont Ventoux cycling jersey of L’étape du Ventoux or for a cycling jersey of Sierra Sports and Tours. Besides having 3 shops in Bédoin, Malaucène and Beaumes de Venise L’étape du Ventoux also have an online shop. I am sure it will catch the eye of both cycling friends and family! Sierra Sports and Tours on its turn also has a wonderful range of cycling jerseys in honor of other cols like the Tourmalet and the Stelvio.

Visit l’étape du Ventoux webshop for your own Mont Ventoux cycling jersey

Visit the Sierra and Sports webshop for your Mont Ventoux Cycling Jersey.

A Mont Ventoux Challenge

Each year many challenges, races and events take place on the steep mountain flanks. I would like to pick out one of the most memorable and passionate events which has taken place many years in a row: the Grand Fondo Mont Ventoux. The GF Mont Ventoux is an impeccably organized race…with catering, an exhibition village and support to book your stay. It consists of two races which riders can choose from: a long one and a short one. The long one is about 140 km (85 miles) and has an elevation gain of 3250 meters. The short one is 80 km (50 miles) with 2150 meters of elevation gain. Take into account the GF Mont Ventoux ends at the top, so the possible descent distance is not yet part of the total GF distance.

Proud owner of a Grand Fondo Mont Ventoux Cycling jersey
Proud owner of a Grand Fondo Mont Ventoux Cycling jersey

I have done a few Grand Fondos in the past, but the Mont Ventoux GF is clearly one of my favorites. Hundreds of people having the same dream, sharing the same passion in a Southern France setting of “du vin, du pain et du boursin”. What do you need more!

Find below the wonderful Santini Grand Fondo Mont Ventoux 2020 aftermovie which gives you that perfect look and feel of the passion of this cycling challenge and race! This grand fondo is one to put on your cycling agenda for the coming year!

Subscribe and read more about the Santini Gran Fondo Mont Ventoux here on their official website!

Santini Gran Fondo Mont Ventoux

Sportymaps

A last reference I would like to make is to Sportymaps. Sportymaps is a company which visualizes your sport performances by means of a hand drawn poster. The result is both stunning and stylish. They have a large set of pre-designed posters covering famous and notorious running, triathlon, cycling and walking courses. You can personalize the posters with your own name and finish time. In case your specific challenge, race or sport performance print isn’t available yet you can contact the Sportymaps designers and request them to produce the new course. Click here to visit the Sportymaps website.

Sportymaps: my bicinglé du Ventoux personalized poster
Sportymaps: my bicinglé du Ventoux personalized poster

Questions

If you have any questions about the bicinglé du Ventoux, about the preparation and training, about rheumatic arthritis, about the place we stayed or about anything else related to this challenge or cycling in general… please don’t hesitate to contact me via our contact form. I will be more than happy to help you wherever and whenever I can.

Frequently asked questions

  • What is the bicinglé du Ventoux?

The bicinglé du Ventoux is a challenge organized by the Club Cinglés Ventoux. As the name states the bicinglé is the cinglé Du Ventoux multiplied by two. The goal is therefore to climb the Mont Ventoux 6 times within 24 hours; each climb twice. In the end you will have cycled at least 247 km with an elevation gain of 880 meters.

  • How much preparation time do you need for the bicinglé du Ventoux?

This depends on your current physical form of course. When I started my preparation, I was an intermediate amateur cyclist with an FTP of about 240 Watt. I prepared my bicinglé du Ventoux 10 months in advance during which I cycled +/- 12000 kilometers.

  • How do you subscribe for the bicinglé du Ventoux?

First of all, the intent is to subscribe you well in advance for the challenge on the official website of the Club Cinglés Ventoux. A few weeks later you will receive an official subscription letter with a small card. This card needs to be stamped during your challenge. Each time when you reach the top and each time when you enter one of the 3 villages a stamp is required together with the time of arrival. Several local shops, restaurants, bakeries, and bars have an official stamp. You can check them on their website. After your challenge has completed you send the card back to the club and if approved you will receive an official certificate, a medal and your name will be published on the worldwide web in their hall of fame.

  • What is the reward when you finish the bicinglé du Ventoux?

When you challenge is approved (based on the stamped card), you will receive an official certificate, a medal and your name will be published on the worldwide web in their hall of fame.

  • Where can I find the best Mont Ventoux cycling jersey and clothing?

I would advice to visit the online shop or to go to one of the 3 local shops of l’étape du Ventoux. They have some stylish Mont Ventoux bike apparel from high-quality bike wear brand Gobik. L’étape du Ventoux has a shop in Bédoin, in Malaucène and in Beaumes de Venise.

  • What is the best official Mont Ventoux event or race?

I have done a few but my favorite of all times is the Gran Fondo Mont Ventoux. This event is very well organized, and both the organizers and the participants clearly share that same passion of the Beast of the Provence. The Gran Fondo Mont Ventoux has a short and a long race.

20 thoughts on “Crazy Cols: Bicinglé du Ventoux…my Mt Ventoux story

  1. Sandro says:

    Wonderful blog article about a wonderful Mountain. Have climbed it myself about 6 times now and can’t get enough of it. Maybe we can meet next time at the top ? 😉

  2. Dean S says:

    We did the Ventoux (only once which was enough for us 🙂 ) with a group of friends last summer and were still looking for a nice little souvenir… that l’étape du Ventoux cycling jersey indeed looks beautiful 🙂

  3. Wim says:

    Great story. I would love to know more about what you have done to achieve this bicinglé du Ventoux! I will send you a PM.

  4. Bernard says:

    What a great performance! I know what I am talking about because I tried it myself a few years ago. Unfortunately my bicinglé du Centoux ended after the 4th climb…stomach issues. I am sure going to give it another try after Covid.

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