Mont Ventoux from Bédoin Road biking

This major tick is a must for any aspiring road biker and this best route of the three routes up Mont Ventoux.
This is one of the giants of the Tour de France and a popular stage for a summit finish. It towers high above everything else in the area and is visible from miles away but also offers great views. The most striking feature of the mountain is the bald summit landscape, a vast expanse of limestone blocks without any vegetation, which make it looked snow-capped all year round. This is apparently the result of deforestation but, whatever the cause, it gives a unique environment to cycle in and makes it one of the most atmospheric climbs in Europe. The route from Bédoin is a long and steady climb with few respites. The Malauéne route has some steep sections and is actually found harder by some road bikers who prefer a steady climb where they can build up a rhythm, but is not the 'approved' TdeF route. The third way from Sault is considered a slightly 'soft' option although is still a decent challenge but the start is nearly 400m higher than Bédoin.

The barren summit of Mont Ventoux  © Alan James - UKC and UKH
The barren summit of Mont Ventoux. © Alan James - UKC and UKH
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Detailed description

44.1234, 5.1857 Most people start from the parking area on the far side of the village. From here the route gives you a gentle warm-up along an easy section for a few kilometres but not really enough to get the legs going before the first hairpin section starts.

44.1157, 5.2403 Beginning of the climb. Start slow on this bit since there is no respite for the next 10km. If you can get into a rhythm then you can eat up the ground but if you start puffing too soon then you will have problems higher up. The trees provide a little shade if it is hot and there tend to be few cars so you can use the full width of the road if you wish.

44.1492, 5.3179 The next key point is the broad junction with the Sault road. There is an obvious easing in angle here which gives you a chance to recuperate as the road starts a long series of zigzags up the barren moonscape of the white summit. More riders tend to join at this point giving you pacing company or targets depending on how fast you are going. The final 10km climb to the summit actually gradually increases in steepness but it is easy to not realise this so don't push too hard after the junction.

44.1697, 5.2869 The Simpson memorial passes near the top - best saved for viewing on your descent unless you are in need of a break.

44.1745, 5.2752 The final section is as steep as anything you have done. In summer the photographer will snap you near the top and drop his card in your pocket as you haul yourself up one more bend to arrive at the circus summit area. This is something of a disappointment to most with too many people who haven't cycled up there trying to park their cars - time for a quick descent stopping off at the Simpson Memorial on the way down.

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