The Velocurean Bicycle and Social Club attacked Ventoux on Tuesday, September 4, 2012 – a.k.a. “Ventoux(z)day.” (a Velocureanism) Physically we were prepared to ascend the nonstop 13 mile climb with an average grade of 7.5% given the fact that we are blessed enough to train in the San Francisco bay area on climbs like Mt. Tam, Mt. Diablo, Mt. Hamilton and Mt. Rose… But nothing ever prepares you for the emotional and psychological battle that goes on during climbs like this. As we set out that morning from the village of Bédoin, none of us had any doubt in our minds that we would reach the summit. This was why we were here; we did not come to fail. We agreed to allow the climb to take over the individual and allow it to transform each soul; let the day unfold and create memories and changes inside our minds and bodies. With this in our heads, hearts and legs, we embarked on our journey.
Just two hours earlier that morning back at our house in the village of St. Rémy I sat on the couch fully dressed in my kit, febrile and sweating with the chills. My head was pounding, my body ached, my chest was congested and I just couldn’t believe that this was happening to me on the precipice of realizing one of my greatest cycling dreams. But this wasn’t going to stop me. This was not going to keep me down or ruin my day. I refused to let the sickness take over my body and crush another dream. “I am riding up Ventoux today; let’s get fired up!” This mantra echoed through my head… Nothing was going to stop me. I just decided to take it one pedal stroke at a time, keep my heart rate under control, steady breathing and cadence, and keep hydrated. For me this was a romantic day, a personal realization, and a dream come true. In the car on the way to Bédoin I gazed at the omnipresent peak of Mont Ventoux and smiled at the still surreal prospect of ascending it. At that moment, nothing else in the world really mattered.
The six of us saddled up as waves of individuals and groups of cyclist set out to conquer the beast as well. We spilled out on to D974 (Route du Mont Ventoux) and instantly, but gently, eased in to the climbing at a relaxed 3.4%. When we set out we had agreed that each person could find his or her own pace and either ride as an individual or as a group. What was important on this day was that we all understood and supported each other’s goals for the day. Efrain and Eddy immediately went ahead to attack the Strava challenge of fastest time from Bédoin to the top of Ventoux. The current fastest time to the top, though not on Strava, is held by Iban Mayo during the individual time trial of the 2004 Dauphiné Libéré with a time of 55′ 51″. Mercy, Kevin, Sherry and I rolled as a group enjoying the moment, absorbing the reality of the dramatic landscape that was just a dream a week before. It was only a matter of time till our own challenges presented themselves; until then, it was bliss…
(Read the whole story here – Velocurean.com)
Words by – Joshua Seaman
Photos by – Kevin Eisele