Tag Archives: mt ventoux

Everesting on my Brompton Bicycle – my 2018 physical challenge

Mount Everest – 8848 metres (almost 30,000ft) high

Mount Everest has always fascinated me. I would love to see it in all its beauty, one day.  In the mean time, I intend to celebrate the 65th Anniversary of Hillary and Tenzing’s famous ascent by doing something Everest related. So the date is set – 29 May 2018, 65 years after the first successful assault of Mt Everest.  (I do add a caveat, going along with my climbing theme, and I can move the date a day or two each side to pick the best weather window for my challenge).

So what is the challenge, I hear you cry? It’s called Everesting. For those of you that don’t know, Everesting on a bicycle involves riding up and down the same hill as many times as necessary to get the cumulative height of Mount Everest which is 8848m (29000 ft) of ascent on a single ride.  For those non cyclists readers, that is a big day of climbing, especially when consider that the hardest mountain stages of the Tour de France sometimes accumulate 4000m of ascent, and my three ascents of Mont Ventoux only accumlated 4400m of height gain!

If you are interested in the rules, have a look at Hells500 rules here.   By my calculations, on the hill that I have picked, it is a 210km day with half of it riding uphill! So a tough day by any stretch of the imagination. I am going to make it tougher by riding my lovely Brompton instead of my race ready road bike.

Brompton in action.

So, like all things, I am setting myself up for success by doing some training. My Summit Attempt in May, so I have time on my side (as I write this in November 2017).   I have targeted a date to fit in with my Everest obsession – 29th May 2018, which will be exactly 65 years after Hillary and Tenzing stood on the world’s highest summit. I will share my key training sessions running up to my Everesting attempt in my blog.

Thanks for reading.  If you would like to get in touch, please follow me on Twitter and contact me via this social media channel.  If I am mentioned in your Tweet, I will always get back to you.  Thank you for taking time out to read my post.

Riding up Mt Ventoux on my Brompton, not once, but three times in a day. Job done.

Brompton and me on way to the top of Mt Ventoux.  This is one of the 3 visits to the summit that I made on 18 June.
Brompton and me on way to the top of Mt Ventoux. This is one of the 3 visits to the summit that I made on 18 June.

I have been lucky enough to have been riding a Brompton for about seven months now.  I say lucky, because this bike really can do it all, as I hope that I have proved by my latest challenge which involved riding up all three roads to the summit of Mt Ventoux in southern France.

A murky summit shot of the Brompton
A murky summit shot of the Brompton

Some say that Mt Ventoux is one of the hardest climbs in France.  Its brutal reputation was enhanced in 1967 when it claimed the life of the famous British cyclist Tommy Simpson, who collapsed and died just 500 metres away from the summit.  Eddy Merckx, arguably the world’s greatest cyclist, required oxygen at the summit after his battle with the mountain in 1970.  Roland Barthes, a French philosopher said, “Ventoux is the god of evil, to which sacrifices must be made. It never forgives weakness and extracts an unfair tribute of suffering.”
For me, the appeal of Mt Ventoux is that you actually ride to the summit.  Most mountain stages on the three of the Grand Tours (Giro d’Italia, Tour de France and Vuelta d’Espana) ride over “Cols”, the lowest point on a mountain ridge between two peaks, so you are rarely at the summit of a mountain.  This is logical, as why would road builders and engineers build roads up to the top of mountains, when they don’t need to?  Mt Ventoux is different, because the road goes right over the summit and when you are there you are on the roof of Provence, with no other mountains looming over you.  I find this quite a special feature.
So on a wet Friday lunchtime I got on the Eurostar (a train that goes from London to Paris) with my Brompton packed into the Brompton B Bag.  Once in Paris, I used the Metro to travel from Gare du Nord to Gare de Lyon where I got on the TGV (a French high speed train) to Avignon.  From Avignon it was just a short journey to my start point in Bedoin.  For me, having been a cyclist for many years now, one of the highlights of the Brompton is the ease with which you can take it anywhere; put it on a train, plane or bus, with minimal fuss and hassle, and have a bike with you at your destination.  In fact, according to both Eurostar and the French Railway Authorities, bikes aren’t even allowed on their high speed trains without prior arrangement.  No such issue when travelling with a Brompton.  Nobody even questioned me, with my Brompton safely packed in its B Bag, which conveniently fits into the luggage racks like a suitcase.  And once at your destination, it is a few seconds to unpack your bike and you are ready to ride – so simple.

Don't tell anyone, but there is actually a bike in the bag.  Brompton B Bag #MadeForTravelling
Don’t tell anyone, but there is actually a bike in the bag. Brompton B Bag #MadeForTravelling

On Saturday morning, I set out to ride all the three routes to the summit. My plan was simple:
• Bedoin to the summit
• Descend to Malaucene
• Eat something
• Malaucene to the summit
• Descend to Sault
• Eat something
• Sault to the summit
• Back to Bedoin.
• Eat, shower and sleep!
• Return home
Please excuse my lack of artistic talent, but this was my pictorial representation of what I was going to do.  You will notice that the total ascent in metres was 4400 (14,400ft), which equals a tough mountain stage in the Tour de France.

The plan for the day
The plan for the day

And I have to say that it all went to plan.  I only took one summit shot, as the weather conditions deteriorated throughout the day, going from light drizzle through to thunderstorms with some hail thrown in for good measure.  But actually, the rain had quite a nice cooling effect on the way up and overheating and dehydration were not going to be an issue.
I also stopped to take a photo of the weather station, getting a good view from the ride up from Malaucene.  I could not help thinking that it looks quite like a giant syringe, a touch ironic given cycling’s shady history with doping.

Weather station or giant syringe?  Mt Ventoux
Weather station or giant syringe? Mont Ventoux

And to reinforce the syringe image, I found this poster in Bedoin…

The giant syringe of Mont Ventoux
The giant syringe of Mont Ventoux

I am constantly amazed at what this bike can do.  Mountains, long distance, commuting, travelling, you name it.  This bike can do it all.  With a bit of modification to carry water bottles, I would happily ride this bike anywhere, any distance, any time.

Bottle carriage on a Brompton
Bottle carriage on a Brompton

Yes, it might be slightly heavier than your average road bike, but it is twice as robust and can travel with you anywhere.  Yes, you may get lots of people asking you about it, but that’s what happens when you are riding a fantastic piece of British innovation.  Yes, you might get a few strange looks, but I say “bring it on” and now ask me how far I’m going?  For me, this all adds to its appeal. I have loved bicycles all of my life.  I have quite a few of them.  And do you know what, knowing what a Brompton is capable of, I could probably sell them all and just ride a Brompton for the rest of my life.

#ImPerfect #ThisBikeCanDoItAll
Safely home.  This bike is made for small spaces.
Safely home. This bike is made for small spaces.

Thanks for reading.  If you would like to get in touch, please follow me on Twitter and contact me via this social media channel.  If I am mentioned in your Tweet, I will always get back to you.  Thank you for taking time out to read my post.

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Mt Ventoux on a Brompton Bicycle – Three Times in One Day

All three ascents of Mt Ventoux in a day
All three ascents of Mt Ventoux in a day

So I have been given the go ahead by my other half to go and ride Mt Ventoux on my Brompton in June.  With an opportunity like that, it would be rude not to take full advantage and ride all three routes to the top in one day, (from Bedoin, Malaucene and Sault) and thereby become a member of the Club des Cingles du Mont Ventoux.  So that is the plan.

I have to say that Mt Ventoux is one of my favourite climbs and I have completed it a number of times on a regular road bike.  I wrote about my last exploits on the mountain a while ago.  Riding up and down it on a Brompton bicycle will certainly add to the challenge.

This could be a good test for both mine and the Brompton's hill climbing abilities.
This could be a good test for both mine and the Brompton’s hill climbing abilities.

Wish me luck, and I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

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My 12 Peaks Challenge – Completed

Well I did my 12 Peaks Challenge yesterday evening.  12 climbs up the Ridgeway.  Total ascent wasn’t quite as much as I had expected, but 1450 metres of climbing over a sub 3 hour ride in Oxfordshire isn’t to be sniffed at.  In fact, my Mount Ventoux climb last year was 1533 metres of climbing, so I only needed another 83 metres and I would have done the same!

The ride details are above, but I basically did two climbs of all of the following:  Foxhill (x 2), Ashbury (x 2), White Horse (x 2), Dragon Hill (x 2), Blowingstone Hill (x 2) and Sparsholt climb (x 2).

It was fun.  It was a beautiful evening to be riding.  And ultimately, I am hoping that it assist in getting me in good condition for my Tour de France ride later this summer.

2015 Tour de Force

Well, I initially thought that I was going to ride up Mt Ventoux lots of times for my 2015 challenge.  I love Mt Ventoux, however, something bigger and even better has come up and it is definitely for me.

The Tour de France route

The 2015 route of the Tour de France is awesome.  This clip takes you to a YouTube clip.  2015 Tour de France route

And I am going to do exactly the same route, one week before the Professionals, mirroring the exact stages that they do.  How cool is that?

So between 27 June and 19 July 2015, I am going to ride my bicycle for 3,344km over 21 stages.  By the time I finish in Paris, I will have climbed the equivalent of Mt Everest, Mt Blanc, Mt Kilimanjaro, Ben Nevis, Snowdon and Scarfell Pike.  I will have also cycled the distance from London to Cairo, but with a lot more hills.  The longest stage, stage 4, is 221km long – this is the distance that the average teenager walks in 6 months and I will be doing it in a day.

My training is in going well.  If you would like to support me, please do so by donating to the charity of the Tour de Force, the William Wates Memorial Trust, whose mission is to help the most disadvantaged young people keep away from a life of crime and violence and fulfil their potential.  This is achieved by giving grants to charities that engage young people through the mediums of sport, arts and education.  You can donate securely by visiting this link to my fundraising page: Link to my charity fundraising page 

Riding up Mont Ventoux


Mont Ventoux - 1911m sign
The Summit Sign Post – Mont Ventoux

I have mentioned before that I have always wanted to ride up one of the big Tour de France climbs on my bike.  It is even on my Exercise Bucket List.   Well, I got the chance to ride the legendary climb of Mont Ventoux, not once, but twice during my summer holidays.  First, from the Bedion side (the most famous side that the Tour de France uses) and second, from the Malaucene side.  What a fantastic climb it is, and let me share a few of my photos, taken by my brother.

Relaxing at the top of Mont Ventoux
At the summit of Mont Ventoux
The road over Mont Ventoux
The famous D974 road over Mont Ventoux
Garmin 810 stats
Checking out my ride data at the summit of Mont Ventoux
Relax and descend
And relax – the ride down Mont Ventoux
Find that apex
Find that apex

My brother also took a small YouTube clip of me riding up Mont Ventoux.  Not the best quality clip, but does give you a flavour of the mountain.  And I had only had an hour’s sleep the night before in the front seat of my car as all the hotels were full!  Not ideal preparation, but good enough.  This is the YouTube link.

I think that I have found my challenge for 2015……

How exciting, I think I have found my physical challenge for 2015.  It is to do with Mont Ventoux, the “Giant of Provence” which tops out at 1912m and is  a legend in Tour de France history.

Well, I am going to ride it for the first time next month on the way to my summer holidays in Spain.  Then in 2015, I am going to go and become a graduate of the of the Club des Cingles du Mont Ventoux by completing a Bicinglettes degree.  This is an exclusive club, and to date, only 11 British riders have completed it.  Worldwide, this number only swells to 89.

And here is why…….  To become a Bicinglettes degree holder you have to ride up and down all three main roads to the summit, not once but twice.  So six ascents and descents in total, within a day.  This is a 272km day with a 8886m difference in altitude (higher than Everest).  I am going to have to do a lot of studying (training) to get the degree I want, but I know that with plenty of hard work, and a bit of luck, I can do it.

Mt Ventoux