“The Ventoux never forgives weakness and extracts an unfair tribute of suffering.”
—Roland Barthes, French philosopher and bike-racing fan
THE VENTOUX SPIRIT: We had a couple of days to climb the different routes up Mont Ventoux and discover the beauty of this mythic mountain, free of cars and spectators, free of advertisements and noise—just our beautiful bikes and our determination to succeed. Time and weather were on our side, and I was determined to capture the spirit of the mountain in an unconventional manner.
One morning, we ride to the ancient hilltop village of Bonnieux, with its narrow streets and wide views across the Côtes du Luberon vineyards and the foothills of Vaucluse. There are two churches in Bonnieux, one dating from the 12th century and this one, the “new” church, built just 150 years ago.
We have fun riding in the quaint alleyways of Bonnieux. Our bikes turn out to be efficient beyond just tarred roads, because they are also pleasant companions on pot-holed passages—as is this open-top Citroën 2CV, the quintessential car for navigating the twisting back roads of rural Provence.
It’s always so quiet. All we can hear is the sound of our carbon Zipp wheels gliding on the asphalt. Descending through the sunlight from town to town, riding in the afternoon when the temperatures are much warmer, give us a taste of summer rides to come.
We’ve seen countless images of Mont Ventoux, its narrow road packed with tens of thousands of screaming fans, the summer sun beating down on the backs of skinny and fragile mortals grinding their way toward the summit. But now it’s spring, so the sun is softer, the slopes less crowded, the trees in bloom—and the fields of yellow rapeseed give the countryside a golden glow.
Leaving the morning chill lingering in the valley, the first few miles out of Bédouin are winding and gentle, but already slightly uphill. With no time to warm up on flat roads, legs start to ache from the very beginning. And as the road gets steeper, climbing for another 20 kilometers, with even higher elevations and steeper gradients, seems utterly impossible…
Whereas yesterday we ate sandwiches and chatted with other riders at the top, the winds and threatening rain force a hasty retreat after today’s climb up the mountain. And, post-summit, the town square in Sault is the place to be, with a beer (and maybe a Coke or iced tea) and the biggest pizzas we’ve ever seen—and only 8 euros each! Tired, but happy.
Photos by @marshallkappel for @pelotonmagazine and @zippspeed. #ZippSpeed #ventoux
Explore part four of the story on our microsite: Peloton x Zipp – Ventoux: The Sacrifice