The Chaplain and Mont Ventoux

Calder Chaplain at the summit of Mont Ventoux
Tony Cooper enjoying his 70th birthday the hard way.

In the first week of October, the Calder Chaplain, Tim Moss, joined a party of friends for a sunny week of cycling in France where they celebrated the 70th birthday of one of their group, Tom Cooper, with a climb of  the Giant of Provence, Mont Ventoux.

Birthday boy, Tom, settled for climbing Mont Ventoux once. He stopped for lunch at the famous Chalet Reynard at 1500 metres, having covered 15 kilometres of 8% gradients with a steepest stretch over 10%. 

Rick Cooper tops the Ventoux

After Chalet Reynard , the start of the famous exposed ‘moonscape’ section begins where the tree cover ends. It’s still seven kilometres of shadeless 8% gradient to the top of Ventoux.

Tom Simpson’s memorial, marking the spot where he fell in 1967 is agonisingly close to the top of the climb. At the memorial there are many offerings left by those paying tribute to Tom. These are cleared away regularly by the local authority although it never deters its many visitors from leaving bottles, tyres, caps, jerseys and other souvenirs. 

At the top of the “Hors Categorie” Ventoux climb with it’s summit at 1912 metres Tom Cooper’s climbing was done for the day, being quite enough for a very fit 70 year old. 

Rodger Smith Jr at the summit

Rodger Smith Jr, Rick Cooper and Tim  also climbed up from Bedoin after which they descended the 22 kilometre to Malaucene where they turned

round and climbed
back up the way they came. 

The climb, as on the Bedoin side is 22 kilometres with the gradients similarly remorseless at an average of 8%, but to this group, it felt a much harder climb. 

Rick Cooper pedalling in the Provencal sunshine

Apart from the cyclists  having the first climb in their legs, they were no longer “buoyed up” on the second climb by the excitement of being on the iconic climb passing it’s many points made famous by exploits of the Tour de France riders. 

On this side there were also two very tough, longish stretches of around 10%, one of them close to the top.

I knew we should have taken that side road 2 miles back

No doubt all of them were relieved to reach the top for a second time and enjoy the drop down to the end of their ride
and continue to celebrate an eventful birthday for Tom.

Roman Bridge over the Vidoutie

Pont De Gard

Daunting Prospect of the Summit above the road
Tom Simpson Memorial

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