For our fifth year we’ve picked a special challenge, of a slightly different nature to previous years. This year, we will each attempt to ascend Mont Ventoux as many times as possible in a single day.
We’ve also picked a great cause: the work of Amnesty is ever more needed around the world and at home.
Standing alone at the edge of the Provençal plains, Mont Ventoux is infamous in cycling circles. Although far from the highest ascent to have featured in the Tour de France, its reputation is second to none.
Unlike most climbs, which are cols—passes between peaks—the ascent of Ventoux serves no purpose other than to reach the summit. And what a summit. Bereft of greenery and home to little more than its iconic but disused weather station, its moonlike landscape is blasted by sun and air alike, with wind speeds of over 300km/h recorded. Even a benign day on Ventoux sees dramatic differences in conditions between the foot and the summit.
Climbing Ventoux once is tough. Doing it three times in one day—once by each of the roads that ascend the mountain—is a little mad, which is why the Club des Cinglés de Mont Ventoux will officially accept you as a cinglé (madman) if you manage it. For those who wish to progress beyond madness, there are further awards for adding either the unpaved route forestière or a second helping of the three road routes.
Our group has a mix of award ambitions, from the three-climb cinglé to the six-climb bicinglette, but—unlike most who attempt these follies—if and when the award is in the bag, we’ll keep climbing until the day is done.