Col des Tempêtes, 84410 Bédoin, France
Mighty Mont VentouxIt's the grand daddy of all famed Tour de France rides and always at the very top of every cyclist's dream, to-do list. There are three different ways to start the ascent, but the most storied (and most challenging approach) begins in Bedoin.
Mont Ventoux, stands alone to the north of the Luberon mountain range. The higher you climb, the more the vegetation disappears, until due to high winds at altitude, only limestone rocks are able to survive. That fact, paired with the meteorological tower at the top, create a lunar landscape for those brave enough to tackle the 23 kilometer, uphill challenge.
The Bédoin side starts easy among the vines and for few seconds, you're entertaining thoughts that it'll be easier than you think. Then you hit the forest at the famous St. Esteve turn and start to realize what you're in for. From the end of the forest point on, the climb hardly ever goes below 9% and gives you no time or place to recover.
Once, you reach the Chalet Renard, you're almost there and you'll have glimpses of recovery grades before the final thwack. Those final kilometers are at 10% and will have you out of your saddle to reach the yellow 1912 M sign at the very top. Be sure to pay your respects to Tom Simpson (British rider killed in the 1967 climb of Ventoux) on your way up or down.
Make sure you layer up for your return descent the way you came, or head down the Malaucene route to change things up. Either way, a celebration in Bedoin is in order!