This post was originally published on 21 Aug 2012. I’m republishing it to coincide with the Tour de France’s return to Provence with a climb of the Mont Ventoux. I look forward to watching the climb on the TV although I wish I could be there in person to cheer the riders on. And for those of you in France this weekend I hope you’re enjoying the 14 juillet holiday.
Yes, I rode up Mont Ventoux.
In a car.
I am not Andy Schleck or Lance Armstrong. Plus, it’s been incredibly hot in the south of France. Riding up the famed Mont Ventoux is for people a lot fitter (or more insane) than me. And there they were, steadily climbing, their legs pumping in a well-timed rhythm to the very top.
I envied them and their fit bodies and their determination.
I’m sure they envied me and my air-conditioned car.
But we share the same goal: get to the top of Mont Ventoux. And I’ve been dreaming of this for years. From afar, this Giant of Provence, appears perpetually snow-capped, but it’s not. Given the wind (le mistral) that literally whips through Provence this is no surprise.
The drive up was amazing, all twists and turns. The road is marked with words of encouragement to riders from recent tours de France plus those to amateur riders from family or friends. I imagine it must be as good as, if not better than, seeing your name in lights!
And when you get to the top, be it by two wheels or four, you’re greeted by one of the best views in Provence. The lush, green vegetation below in stark contrast to the barren nothingness at the top.
The best thing, however, was overhearing some of the conversations held by these amateur riders. Be they Dutch, English, or French, the sense of success was tangible. Maybe next time I’ll ride up Mont Ventoux. Maybe.