We travelled across to Les Verguettes Camping at Villes-sur-Auzon within a few miles of the start of the recognised ride up Mont Ventoux at Bedoin. There are 2 other routes up but this is THE one, the one used in the Tour de France when they come this way. It was a pleasant drive across to here, a lot of it through a valley in the Cervennes national park. Spectacular scenery and a beautiful sweeping, twisting turning road.
What also made it very pleasant was the fact that it was a Bank Holiday here and ‘Sunday Rules’ apply on the roads. No trucks are allowed on the roads from midnight to midnight. Wouldn’t it be great if those rules applied in the UK, I think so anyway. Having said that, Bank Holiday traffic doesn’t have the same effect as it does at home, there is still very little traffic about. So all in all a very pleasant journey and we made use of one of the abundant picnic stops on our way. These are well maintained areas along the roadside usually with a nice pull in off the road with tables and seating provided, usually made of concrete or granite. They even occur on the autoroutes (motorways) and are always left neat and tidy by the users. Another notable fact in what is becoming a long list of them is the lack of litter everywhere. There are litter bins in all the areas but never overflowing and bags of rubbish left by the side. I think the French have a great deal of pride in their country and countryside and take their litter home with them.
Once we were set up on site we took a drive to Bedoin to do a survey of the ride up Mont Ventoux. All I really knew of it was what I had read and what I had seen when watching the Tour de France. Within a few miles of starting the drive up the climb we were confronted by flashing car headlights and waving from cyclists on their way down. The cause soon became obvious when we saw several cars parked and a group of people all standing around near to one of the Armco barriers just after one of the bends in the road. We didn’t stop but were able to see a cyclist laying on his back with blood pouring from the top of his head and chin and not moving. I am guessing he came down too fast and lost his bike on the corner when he came on a sudden sharp bend. A salutary warning for me about the day after maybe ?
We got to the top and it was absolutely freezing despite it being around 30c down at the base of the climb. There was also a gale force wing blowing as is usual for there. We wanted to get out and take some pictures from a viewpoint but it was too cold and we were not dressed for it. As we turned round to make our exit and headed for the way down a shop was spotted by the co-pilot so we had to park and engage in some retail therapy. It was actually quite sheltered there so I did manage to get a couple of photo’s, namely the finish line of the climb and a view back down.
We then made our way back down the mountain, most of it following a cyclist on his descent, leaving him plenty of room and not trying to overtake, but as he was doing around 30mph it wasn’t really necessary anyway. We passed the scene of the accident and there was no evidence left so I am guessing and hoping that all was well.
On the return to the caravan and in the light of our recent experience I set about investigating a noise from the brakes on my bike. It was kind of harsh rubbing sound when I applied the back brakes at speed and as I would be doing quite a bit of that I thought I should check it out. I found the brake shoes had little pieces of aluminium ‘grains’ in them that had embedded themselves and were rubbing the rims, aluminium on aluminium. I was concerned that this was going to wear grooves in my nice new wheels and ruin them, especially with 20km of descending to do at high speeds I meticulously removed all these bits of metal and flattened the brake surfaces again. Everything seemed OK and I went for a short ride to see if there was any evidence of noise. To my relief there wasn’t although it was hardly a test for what was to come.
And so to bed.