Thursday, 24 July 2014

Tomorrow Is A Long Time...La Bicinglette!

Just one of the finest covers by anyone...Dylan multiplied by Elv. I know that I've used it before but class is permanent!

Just in case you have come to this blog a bit late and saved yourself a ton of wasted time, here is a rundown of the challenge that we had a crack at yesterday:

Garmin recording gadget died just after the fifth ascent. Means I'm missing 40 miles and 5000'. Never mind.

It was to ride up and down Mont Ventoux 6 times within 24 hours, and you have to ride each of the three roads up to the summit, twice. This guarantees a long day out as the distance cycled will be 170 miles and the total amount of climbing just under 30,000 feet. If you complete the challenge then you are eligible to become a member of La Bicinglette: to date only 90 people have done this, although I'm not sure that I'd want to be a member of any club that'd have me as a member. Cheers Groucho!

Right, now you have a vague idea of what yesterday was all about, here goes with my version of it all...

Deliberately blurred to convey the sense of how we felt at the start. 0042 hours...roll!
The plan was to start at 0030 hours so we did try and get some shut-eye after a condemned man's pasta-heavy dinner. Sod's Law dictated that there would be a bit of a knees-up going on in the restaurant until the early hours which didn't help our cause, hah-hah! When the alarm sounded it was a case of sheer disbelief: we're going to go and try to do this, aren't we?

I honestly cannot say that I enjoyed any aspect of cycling up or down the mountain in the dark. It all seemed a tad surreal, as in "what on earth are we doing?". I heard a few animal noises but reckon our unique sounds and smells frightened them right off!

We took a punt that this would be a safe place to stash our water & food supplies. If you like to gamble...

Still for all that we did complete the first climb and thankfully the couple of supply bags that we had stashed behind a wall at the summit were still intact. We have water and food...get in!

First of six cliched poses.
There then followed a thoroughly unpleasant descent to Bedoin which involved one sketchy moment but we both remained upright and intact. Not much fun, and I found the climb a flamin' nightmare, only made bearable by the sun beginning to rise. Wow, what a difference!

Sunrise on the 2nd ascent (1st time from Bedoin and a horrible climb.). Big lump in the distance.

Seems close but the last few miles aren't easy.

We were so lucky with the weather...beautiful sunrise!
The last few miles from Bedoin are difficult as you can see your destination loud and proud but it doesn't seem to get as close as you'd like quick enough!

Second of six cliched photos...
From there it was a repeat: straight back down to Bedoin (at least we had an idea what was ahead this time) and a quick slice of cold pizza from a Boulangerie and then straight back up again. Still a loathsome climb as far as I'm concerned but nailing the the third ascent was a big boost as we had completed 3 out of the 4 hardest ascents by 0930.

It is a pretty unique and brutal landscape. I don't need to ever see it again!

You wanna see the prices that these snappers charge...

Third of six cheesy photos. Feeling a tad warm by 0930...

If we had the time to dawdle then this was ours.

Love this aspect of the whole caper.

We sped back down to Malaucene for a le petit dejuner break at our hotel. Those 90 minutes off the bike sped by and all too soon we were off and into the climb from Malaucene for the second time: temperatures would reach 33c on the way up. Despite that, it went ok with Andy dropping me yet again, hah-hah!

Truth be told, I was never able to have a go on any of the climbs and it was a case of "I'll see you at the top..." which was only right. In previous tours it has been roles reversed at times but whether I had expended more than I thought on the journey down to Carpentras or was just plain useless, who can say?

Fourth ascent (second from Malaucene) in 33c, and it looks like you have a wall ahead of you. And you do, hah-hah!

Cheapskate on the fourth climb...

This nonsense earned me a push from the snapper, hah-hah!

We were at the top for the fourth time around  2pm and it was now teeming with cycling wildlife. Loads of different nationalites, shapes and sizes. We even saw one kid being towed in a trailer by his dad. Magnifique!

Fourth cheesy pose...
On the the final bends of the climb there are local commercial photographers who will snap away regardless and then hand you their business card which allows you to view their capture of your distress on their website. As per, I tried to show-boat and this bloke loved the effort and had a laugh and then pushed me for about 10 yards. Think this may mean that my whole effort is illegal and null and void! It's the little things...

From there it was a fast run down to Sault to begin our first climb from there, and fifth overall. As a wise Bicinglette man said to me, "...fifth is nowhere, sixth is La Bicinglette!". Mozza is a tad mental though, to be fair.

On the run down to Sault. Lavender fields: do not be fooled for they contain stingy, bitey things!

The scenery changed again with patches of lavender fields which looked beautiful. Beauty fades especially when the various insects that the fields attract decide not to avoid you and either bite or sting. Andy got attacked first so I had a good laugh. I got done on the way back out from Sault so we both had direct hits from the little bast**ds.
Wasn't all bad though as it provided a temporary distraction from the rest of the pain. Genuinely, there wasn't a bit of me that didn't hurt. Ridiculous behaviour.

Freshest, coldest eau ever...beautiful!
Those final miles on the fifth climb really had a word...would this bloody mountain ever quit?

Fifth of six cliched poses- oh, you know the script!

At the summit we both wanted to head straight back into the final climb and get this over with asap, so it was another fast 18 mile descent back to Sault (with no insect misbehaviour this time) and then a ride back up to the summit together.

By now there weren't too many other vehicles or cyclists around...time was getting on but we still managed identical times for the fifth and six climbs (2 hours and 4 mins). Despite having recharged my Garmin at breakfast it died on me about 5 miles from the end so I'm missing some miles and height and then the last descent: you have my word that I didn't just climb-off, hah-hah!

The final corner. 12%. Bring it!

Cheers mate- don't think that I could've done it without you!
We reached the summit for the final time just before 9pm. There was the spectacular sight of an electrical storm off to the north-east and below us! Venotux was perhaps displeased with the liberties that this pair of Herberts had clearly taken, hah-hah!

Thankfully one German chap just coasted in a few moments after us and he was pretty pleased with his effort. We asked him how many ascents he had done (meaning today), and he said four which was good going. He reciprocated and was appalled when we said six. Turns out he meant he had done four ascents over the week, hah-hah! Bloke was good enough to perform necessary camera duties before we all layered-up and descended from the summit for (hopefully) my last time.

I say "hopefully" because I have no wish or cause to ever lay eyes on Ventoux ever again: Le Tracteur concurs. Been there, seen know the drill.

The most important bit of card that I have, hah-hah!

While we're here, and I know that I say this quite a bit, but a massive thank you to you generous types who have donated to these causes. Good on you. You know that I'm busting my balls out there at times, so it's really appreciated.

I will give £10 for every £50 that you do. Aside from that, there is one other thing that would help, if you can do it...please share this blog and/or the JG links with your pals/acquaintances/enemies.

I'm sure that it always sounds trite but I cannot thank everyone enough for your support both in terms of sponsorship and makes this nonsense do-able. To date we have raised almost £2000 for Cancer Research UK and almost £1700 for the Royal British Legion: good on you!

I do wonder where our money that we give does go and what good does it do, so it was gratifying to read this e-mail from Ms Madeleine Blower who is my contact at the RBL:
" very many thanks for your efforts here. Your £1673.91 is enough to provide defence accommodation (level access showers, stairlifts etc.) for beneficiaries recovering from serious injury or new disability, so we are extremely grateful for your sponsorship raised...".

Le cheers et merci!
See you next time. Maybe!

A momento of the misery, hah-hah-hah! Courtesy Le Tracteur...bonnet de douche!


  1. Many congrats on completing a monumental challenge, not only riding over 1000miles unsupported to get to the start line, but then to take on the Bicinglette as well. Much respect, and it was a pleasure sharing the roads with you as always. (Can we do something with flatter roads next time?)

  2. Hats off guv, looks like you were toast on the 5th photo. Presume you're now cycling back home...