The drive through France had been miserable – wet, windy and bitterly cold. However the next morning, as we parked the car in Bedouin at the foot of Mont Ventoux, it couldn’t be more different, the sun was shining and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky – a perfect December morning for our attempt to tame the “Beast of Provence”.
Our original intention had been to run up as much of the 22km route to the top as possible but I had started to contract flu on the journey through France so Marlena agreed that we would stick together and somehow get there with a combination of running,walking, hobbling – whatever it took!
The first few kilometres were relatively gentle with spectacular scenery on either side of the road – wide open spaces, the famous Ventoux vineyards and the ever looming presence of the mountain itself. The road was great to run along – few cars and the odd hardy cyclist, but this was December not the height of summer when it would probably be very different!
After a few more km we hit the tree line and the top of the mountain briefly disappeared and, although the sun was still glinting through the trees, it was definitely starting to get colder and there were the first signs of snow on the side of the road. We noticed too, the sign that confirmed that the road to the top was closed beyond Chalet Reynard. On and on we went, Marlena ever patient as she waited for me every 1km or so to catch up – I was struggling with my breathing but know that somehow we were going to get there!
Finally we came out of the tree line and arrived at a significant landmark on the route, Chalet Reynard and the end of the line for anyone traveling by car – just the hardy ones left on foot now! The temperature had dropped to -6c and we were now finding out why Mont Ventoux was officially named the windiest place in the world with wind speeds recorded of over 200mph! (It was a more modest 49mph for our trip!)
We knew it was just 6km for here and with a spring in our step and the top in sight we ploughed on. And then an hour and a half later and some 5 hours after we had set out from Bedouin we turned the final bend and made our way up the last stretch to the top. The views were spectacular but we couldn’t hang around because already the light was starting to go and we still had to get down again! And how did we manage that – well that’s another story!
This was a great adventure and we will definitely be back to explore Mont Ventoux again – if you get a chance just do it, you won’t regret it!
We did have some gear issues on this jaunt but have managed to put together a great little video which you can view on our YouTube channel.