Friday, June 7, 2013

Vent Violent.....

Warning Signs on the Motorway 

What a day. When we were about to land in Marseilles on Friday I realized that the weekend was going to be windy. The aircraft was all over the shop while we were approaching the airport. We drove to "Baumes de Venise" (the starting point) and the wind got worse. The race is only tomorrow, I'm sure the wind will come down; that's what we thought.

Saturday morning Rider NoShow, Rider CahLi and Rider Zinni rode to the start point (5km from the hotel) and we had the wind in our favour, so it was great.

Before the start the organiser said in French and English: "Be careful on the last three km of the climb as it's a bit windy", carefully forgetting to define the speed of the wind and few more details.

We start the race, good pace, wind all over the directions, so the first 20km are fine. Wind high (30/50km/h) but manageable. I hear few times the same thing like: Putain, le vent est terrible; but we keep going.

We arrived in Malaucene, one of the three approach to Ventoux.  
The Climb 
This is where the 21km climb starts.  The wind picks up again, but there are trees protecting you. So I keep thinking, this is ok, the climb is fine, manageable a bit windy but ok. We ride, we climb and slowly reach 10km sign to the summit. The gradients start getting higher, but it' ok. We can do this! I think... 
Then we get to minus 7km to the summit. I am getting colder and I start thinking: "I should have had used my leg warmers and my proper gloves, never mind", and I keep climbing. I see riders riding back on the other side of the road and I think, what a loser, why are you giving up? CahLi says the same. 
I get to minus 5 km to the summit, I can feel that I am getting slower, and I am running out of water. My legs are heavy... The feed station is only 1km to go. I can see CahLi and No Show in front of me. I reached the feed station and I am feeling cold. CahLi shouts:  "get some water and let's go as it's getting colder here". I fill up the bidon and I quickly start pedaling. 
We are at minus 2km from the summit now. It's very cold, my fingers are frozen and we still need to climb another 250 meters to reach the summit. We keep pedaling. Suddenly you cannot see anything anymore.  We are pedaling in the sky, among clouds, the wind pick us again, there are no trees to protect you, you are in the open space. 
This is where the odyssey starts. I can see an hairpin in front of us that turns left (we later realized that was the last hairpin to the summit), I can see my Garmin and I realize that I must be close to the top. While checking my Garmin and going thru the hairpin a gust of wind hits me and few other riders. It was insane, I would guess more than 100 km/h. 
My bike shakes, I shake, I can barely hold my handlebar because of my frozen hands. I try to stay on my bike but the wind is too strong. I came off and walked for 20/30 meters, I got on my bike again and start pedaling but I see everyone turning back. "Putain, le col c'est ferme'". I keep going up. Once I get to the top I see No Show who tells me to turn back as it's impossible to go over the col and we will not be allowed to cross the Col. A motorbike is on the floor. It looked like a War Zone! 
We turn back and ride to the Cafe' near the food station or 4km from the summit and we see Zeke.
Zeke looks at me and says, what's wrong with you? You look really bad. Go Inside!!  I am seriously cold and start shivering. I get an  hot chocolate and I can barely hold my cup. I get another hot drink, but again I find very hard to hold the cup. We slowly get warmer and decide to go back to the start line, 35 km away.

It was a great experience, scary at times but we were all glad we climbed the Ventoux. We were annoyed not been able to go over the Col but it was not safe.

A Ranch weekend cannot be complete without a proper dinner. Rider No Show was in charge of this and we had an amazing dinner. We talked crap over dinner, as usual.
That's how the summit looked like at 6 PM in the evening 
Vive le Ranch.