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Standing atop the summit of Mont Ventoux the views are endless. With every challenging ascent comes an equally spectacular descent that requires its own set of skills to conquer. The elements push every rider to their limit and require special packing attention for the trip back down, especially when reaching elevations above 6,000 feet.
Reaching the top doesn’t seem impossible anymore. The summit is in sight, which helps us find renewed strength to continue even when the whole body aches. Just keep the legs spinning! And it helps having a companion alongside on the final approach.
Climbing Ventoux is only half the battle. Like Mount Washington in New England, the weather at the top is wild and unpredictable. Many days we start in short sleeves and end up in full winter gear at the top; other days we’re not so lucky and seek shelter from the gale-force winds in one of these neat little stone nooks. They come in handy at an elevation of 1,900 meters (6,250 feet) on an exposed rock face!
The wind pushes us sideways, small stones fall onto the road as if the mountain will crumble on us, and we can’t hear each other as the group spreads out. There’ll be no celebration at the top today. Just a quick nod to the barber-pole antenna sitting tall on the communications tower before a solo descent back into the fold of the valley. With the winds howling and rain approaching, we descend quickly to the more sheltered roads below.
There’s an amazing moment as we celebrate our success in the shelter of the lower climb, when a couple of camouflaged French Mirage jet fighters, missiles aboard, zoom over the peak of Ventoux in double-barrel rolls. We feel honored and exhilarated. How do they know we’ll summit today for the first time?
If you’re looking for the best roads in the world, look no further than the area just to the east of Mont Ventoux. The Sault region’s specialties, listed here, include essence of lavender, Ventoux lamb, nougat, honey and ceramics. And each of the five main towns has churches dating back to the 11th century.
Just to the south of Mont Ventoux, the Gorges de la Nesque are, well, gorgeous. The narrow road through this second largest canyon in Provence, up to 400 meters (1,300 feet) deep in places, cuts through limestone archways three or four times on the 22-kilometer stretch between the villages of Monieux and Villes-sur-Auzon.
Photos by @marshallkappel for @pelotonmagazine and @zippspeed. #ZippSpeed #ventoux
Explore part three of the story on our microsite: Peloton x Zipp – Ventoux: The Challenge