Past Ride

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Sat May 29th 2004
Mt Ventoux
Start Time:
Start Location:
Jan McCabe
Kevin Fairs
Liz Palethorpe
Mavis Rose
Pat Hurt
Rex Belcher
Robert Shaw
Roger Palethorpe
Steve Swanton
Sue King
Teresa Belcher
Riders = 11
Eleven ticks.



I have to let you all know what a wonderful week we had in France in June with the aim of cycling up Mont Ventoux, one way or another.

The nightmares - that started when I read the article in a cycling magazine that was circulating round us future 'Monty's'. I was getting the 'upwards and tough' picture and could handle that but the description of the descent brought me out in cold sweats (makes a change from the hot ones) and nightmares. That's what you get for reading cycling articles in bed!

Me being me, I can not remember names of places or even which direction we were heading for after we landed at Marseilles Airport. Patrick and Jan where there at the hotel with bikes and luggage having driven over two days earlier to make it hassle free for us, such luxury.

We set off upwards through Provence and Haut Provence passing through very hilly and pretty countryside, fields of lavender yet to flower, large swathes of red poppies, cherry orchards and plenty of wild flowers. Stopping for nosebag (4/5 star of course) en-route and overnight in country style accommodation. The two that missed the plane (they did have a good excuse, even if they did say they spent the day in Brighton), joined us en-route but never had time to eat as well as us. You should know that the Wantage lot, do enjoy their food. Jan set the gastronomic adventurous pace by trying out the 'Gizzers' and salad on our first lunch stop (2 hours after we landed). It didn't put her off when it was pointed out that it was a local delicacy of duck giblets, namely the crop.

Our hotel at Salut was excellent, very comfortable and highly recommended. It was set in a very small village and seemed to specialise in 'country dishes'. Roger worked his way through a dish that was a cross between barley soup and other unidentified delicacies whilst Jan chomped through 'sheep's feet dinner' - however, on further visual inspection and dissection it was suggested that perhaps they were prairie oysters, 'French style'.

So where does the silence come in?

Well, the first stage up to the ski chalet near Mont Ventoux was a comfortable steady climb in pretty countryside, good roads and not too hot. However, after the rendezvous and hot chocolate at the chalet, bit of chatter and banter, we put on warmer clothing as the temperature had dropped and from then on it was every cyclist doing it in their own way. Mine was zigzagging across the road and NOT TALKING, just gasping for breath and I could not believe how 6km can drag on so long with every bend going steeper and every upward. Sue and I developed a cave man grunt and nod system as we stopped at every bend of the last climb. You couldn't hear any birds, as it was too high for them and way above the tree line. I even missed the Tommy Simpson Memorial. The scenery changed dramatically to moonscape and barren rocks. The only good thing was new tarmac roads and the finish, with other cyclists encouraging you on, sounds of "up the women" from a very strong female German cyclist certainly helped. Don't know who was first up and who was last up, but we all did it whether we pushed our bikes or our bodies.

All the training beforehand paid off, the weekend rides to and from Bath, Stowe-on-the-Wold etc, the Saturday morning hilly rides incorporating BlowingStone never got any easier but it certainly made you fitter.

Jan and I drew the short straw on the last night accommodation, where we split into two groups and us two females had to share a double bed. The owner and his wife seemed a little confused when three females and Roger Palethorpe pitched up. They weren't too sure on our friendship/relationship or how tolerant we all were! After a ten minute French and sign language pantomime we were given our restored farmhouse style rooms (ours must have been a stable for an elephant) had use of the pool and three course dinner outside with monsieur's house-wine and home made food. It was definitely the better deal even it I did have to sleep in my clothes (forgot the night-shirt). Many thanks go to Patrick for all his accommodation trials and tribulations, good routes and Jan for driving and being such a gastronomic adventurer.

It was a wonderful holiday that I would recommend and now being a 'Full Monty' would do it all again.

Mavis Rose
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Start Locations
Wantage Market Place
Old Mill Hall, Grove
1* - Suitable for irregular, social, beginner or family riders, pace will match the slower riders. Not hilly or long. Expect rides up to 3 hours. Gentle exercise.
2* - Suitable for regular riders who prefer to cover some distance but at a more relaxed pace. Likely to be half-day rides. Solid exercise.
3* - Suitable for experienced riders, may be hilly, long, quick, or any combination! Likely to be half or full-day rides. Challenging exercise.
4* - Suitable for athletic riders who can ride safely above the 3* standard. Quick rides for the fit.
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