France - Day 6 : How high is the Ventoux?
Today, the route would consist of 20 km of mountains followed by a long flat section. The local bakery as usual sold baguettes, flutes, and gros pains. Baguettes are just smaller French breads, flutes are twice as tick and a lot more airy and tasty. Gros pains are similar to flutes but wider. The bakery sold gros pains that were half a meter long and 30 cm wide. We bought one which was handed to us in a bag roughly the size of Bram's bivy bag. After breakfast we still had 2/3 left. It lasted until dinner.
From Romans-sur-Isere we could race over straight roads. We had enough bread, but no spread. There were all sorts of shacks along the road selling fresh fruit directly of the land. At one of them I asked for jam. They didn't sell that, but did have some sort of pasta. It was 6,10, which I thought a bit expensive. They also sold 'miel de fleurs', 'miel de lavande', 'miel of this', and 'miel of that'. I didn't know what 'miel' was but we bought the cheapest version. It turned out to be honey and was really tasty.
The road we were on was flat, but we were definitely getting closer to the Alps
From Crest onwards we really needed to climb. It was super hot and pretty though. During the descent we entered a valley that looked like Spain.
It was very hot in this valley
To get out of the valley we needed to climb again. It was a good training for the Mont Ventoux, which we could see for the first time.
Our first view of the Mont Ventoux
It was still about 50 km to the campsite, which was on the other side of the Ventoux. We feared the way there would be pretty mountainous.
The Ventoux, with in front the hills we needed to cross in order to reach the campsite.
In the descent we decided to cut a few kilometers off our route. That did mean we wouldn't pass a big city and wouldn't be able to buy any food or drinks. Fortunately we found a pizzeria, we definitely had more luck in finding food than last year. At least it seemed that way, the pizza's were only available in the early afternoon so we still couldn't eat anything. We had no choice but to continue. It wasn't really flat there, so that made cycling hungry even worse. There were grapes growing along the road, but they weren't very tasty, probably because they were meant to make wine.
We also saw some plum and apple trees. We wanted to pick a few but then realized the people who owned the land were watching from 10 meter away. Fortunately we could buy food from them. We bought Galia melons for 80 cent a piece. They were nice and juicy. In Nyons we bought ravioli, water, and fruitcake. Bram had tried those in the past. They were very tasty, about half of it was sugar and the rest garbage food.
The last section towards the Ventoux wasn't as hilly as we had feared. Outside of Nyons we searched for a bench so we could eat. We couldn't find anything but Bram found a spot in the roadside that was shady. I proposed cycling a bit further, Bram said 'what is the chance there will be a bench a few minutes further'. We both looked down the road, there were 3 tables and 6 benches within 50 meters. There we began cooking the ravioli. When the stove was on for one minute it went out. Now we were out of fuel and the ravioli was only lukewarm. It wasn't really edible, but we had little choice.
The last climb before the campsite wasn't that bad, here is a picture from the summit.
The landscape at the foot of the Ventoux.
When I turned around I started to laugh. After 180 km this climb seemed easy, then I saw this sign:
This col had the same name as a famous one that often makes it into the Tour de France
We took a picture of each col, so we would have some photos of ourselves.
During the descent it was getting dark, so we turned on our lights. It was one continuous descent to Bedoin where the climb to the Mont Ventoux starts. We would camp there. We passed a different campsite than the one we were aiming for. It was completely full, hopefully ours wasn't. After a few kilometers we discovered we had been cycling in the wrong direction. It was about 10:30 and we had already cycled 180 km. Back in the village we set out in a different direction, without being 100% sure it was the correct one. Luckily we found the campsite. There was a nice bar with personnel to show us a place to pitch our tent. We didn't shower because it was too late.
The hot valley lay between Crest and La-Begude-de-Mazenc. Just before Gringan we took a shortcut.
Col de la Madeleine lies between Malaucene and Bedoin. It is also possible to climb the Ventoux from Malaucene.
Daily distance 188,19 km
Average speed 20 km/h