Day 2 - Stage 15 - Mont Ventoux

July 14, 2013

If I didn't get enough sleep, it was a 7am wake up and a quick breakfast before heading out towards Mont Ventoux. I was the only one of the group who rode the long ride today; everyone else rode a shorter more direct route to Bedoin. So I had my own former World Cup pro mountain biker lead out man and all around good guy, Will. 20130714_090054 We rode a good pace, with Mont Ventoux growing closer and more defined as we got closer. 20130714_085853 20130714_090034 We rode into Beaumes-De-Venise, the Roman planted trees providing a perfect line, letting us (and whatever Romans we rode with) know we were riding on the right way to Rome. 20130714_091404 As we got into Lafare, we started the climb of the Col du Suzette. Not a bad climb, and the scenery was incroyable. 20130714_092601 20130714_092609 Mont Ventoux getting closer... 20130714_092633 After a tough last couple of km, we got to the top of the Col. 20130714_094354 And, as usual, the view was worth the price of admission. 20130714_094255 20130714_094306 20130714_094313 We could tell we were getting closer to the route of Today's stage; the signs were up... 20130714_094407 Another short climb to the Col de la Chaine. 20130714_095844 20130714_095831 After that it was a somewhat easy descent and a small climb into the town of Malaucene. We got to the roundabout here, and at that point we were riding the rest of the day on the route of today's stage. It felt a bit like a carnival, and a tailgate party. The folks on the road looked to be settling into a long day, with their baguettes and cafe and all sorts of things. Some played in the local fields, some slept, but it was a jovial atmosphere. 20130714_102820 20130714_102850 Eventually we got into Bedoin, the foot of Mont Ventoux. The crowds were out in force. There were times were we had to unclip and coast a bit due to the amount of people walking up the mountain. There was a local market in the town center: 20130714_104212 20130714_104215 20130714_104355 There were some old-style racers just outside of town that drew quite the crowd. 20130714_10453920130714_10470020130714_104703 But even with the crowds, Ventoux creeped closer. 20130714_105342 At last we arried at St. Esteve, to the restaraunt that would be our tour's host for the next 7 hours, right at the first switchback, where Mont Ventoux starts to really sink its teeth into you. 20130714_111612 Hopped off my bike to give it a rest, tomorrow will be worse: 20130714_112337 Will dragged me up the hills so fast, we got there before everyone else. 20130714_112619 Though the restaraunt had a good view of the switchback: SAM_7578 20130714_112637 SAM_7575 I decided that I would eschew the luxury of the tents and spend the day on the side of the road. 20130714_131529 20130714_134854 The top of Mont Ventoux is over my shoulder... Where the big tower is... 20130714_131613 I found a bit of shade and watched the precession of cyclists and walkers head up the hill. The entire crowd would elicit a chorus of "Allez!" whenever any young riders were comming up the hill. I could hear them as they went up the switch back as the location of the cheers changed to wherever they were on the road. SAM_7582 Apres une heure, the undercard started; the publicity caravan. It was almost an hour ahead of schedule, which I found out later was due to a nice tailwind pushing the Peleton along. SAM_7587 SAM_7584 SAM_7587 SAM_7593 SAM_7596 SAM_7595 With each SAM_7604 SAM_7606 SAM_7607 SAM_7609 SAM_7610 SAM_7611 SAM_7612 SAM_7613 SAM_7614 SAM_7616 With each brand, we waved and hoped someone would throw something at us. Though the Vittel trucks were the most sought after, as they passed out water bottles to ease the pain of standing in a ever shrinking patch of shade. SAM_7618 SAM_7619 SAM_7620 SAM_7623 SAM_7624 SAM_7627 Eventually the caravan stopped, and the waiting and anticipating began. SAM_7631 I don't have a data connection here in France, so I couldn't keep up with what was happening on the road. We'd hear snippets in other languages talking about a breakaway, and as the peleton grew closer it was revealed that Sylvain Chavanel had jumped off the front of the breakaway group, which sent a jolt through the crowd. Where I stood it wasn't as big as expected, as the people I ended up passing time with were Aussies, Kiwis and Brits. So here I am, in the south of France, on the side of a mountain, and the majority of the folks around me speak english. That just goes to the internationalization of cycling. Afterwards, a couple of the guys from the group described the next 10 minutes as "It's like sex. A lot of anticipation and foreplay, followed by 5 minutes of excitement." The other "It's like a football game where everyone showed up and tailgated, but the game was the 4th quarter 2 minute warning in length." Which was very true. The excitement built, especially with a Frenchman leading the race to the foot of Mont Ventoux on Bastille day. As the sound of the helicopters grew, it wratcheted up the level even more, until from where we were standing, I finally saw the yellow motorcycle back down the hillside. Eventually Sylvain Chavanel made it to where we were watching, preceded by the neutral service vehicle, an eschelon of gendarmes on motorcycles, and a lot of photographers and cameramen on motorocycles. sylvain About 30 seconds later, Jean-Christophe Peraud and Jan Bakelants (A stage winner earlier in the Tour) followed trying to stay away from the Peleton. It was here where kharma and being on the side of the road paid off, as Jan Bakelants tossed his water bottle at my feet. Janb jan Yea, I know, another water bottle, but what a souvinier already on the first stage I got to watch in person! About a minute later the peleton showed up, with Chris Froome ensconced behind his team. froome Then it was all manner of guys that had either done their jobs at the front of the peleton, or had been dropped off the back... orica Greipel petersagan 173 argos Polkadot fdj sky Lopez After all the fun, it was back up to the restaraunt to watch the end of the race on the television. What a commanding win by Froome. 20130714_155408 But before that, once the last rider made it past, it became an neverending stream of folks coming down the mountain. "It was like trying to ride your bike at Mardi Gras." SAM_7633 SAM_7634 20130714_160544 20130714_172736 20130714_172702 20130714_172730 Back at the bus, which was conveniently parked infront of a Communal Vinter, so we had some wine while we waited for the rest of the group who didn't ride to make it down he mountain. Eventually we got on the bus, made it back to Orange, and to the hotel. 20130714_191616 20130714_182000 Tomorrow, back to Mont Ventoux. I will get to suffer like tomorrow like the pros did today.

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