Anne- Marie Perry: Our Ventoux Adventure! Day 3- 30.09.2018
So, day three and we had decided a short cool down ride was in order to enjoy the bikes for the last day. Google had promised 100% chance of precipitation, but we had our secret weapon – Matthew Salmon, truly a sun god.
I have been cycling with Matthew for three years now and only been rained on once (and we’ve done two days in Wales, similar forecast, 100% precipitation, we had all of 5 drops!) We let Simon loose on the map – always a mistake, and he had found some ruins to visit followed by a gentle pootle through the vineyards of the Rhone valley with the promise of wine tasting – what could go wrong?? After a leisurely get up, croissant and baguette, we set off in the opposite direction to the last two days. We start down some quite steep slopes – always a little worrying as what goes down also goes up. Legs tired from the last two days and my butt feeling like it had been sat on a bed of sharp rocks the last two days, it seemed a strange “easy ride!”
The slopes to Malaucène were rolling and once the legs had warmed up- weren’t too bad. We got to our first destination, Vaison la Romaine, the old town was lovely. The quaint cobbled streets up to the Medieval castle caused some heads to turn as two mad Englishmen, a Welsh man and mad English woman tried to negotiate the steep completely un-bike worthy streets.
Finally, a flight of steps forced us off our bikes so we carried them to the top of the old castle to look down on the world below- this was becoming a familiar pattern! We stopped for lunch in the old town, then set off for the vineyards. Of course being a Sunday late in September not much was open, but the flat cycle following the river was a welcome relief. We enjoyed the Provence countryside and small towns/villages along the way. The smells were striking, either lavender or crushed grapes, both very pleasant.
It’s funny cycling, you have phases where you definitely feel in the zone, zipping along, wind in your helmet feeling you could go on forever, to find a slight slope suddenly changes the dynamics.
My legs suddenly felt like lead, my seat felt as though it was parked on a bed of porcupines embedded in concrete – definitely time for a break. Another coffee, a serious ice cream, and the 7.1km back didn’t seem too daunting. We found a rural route home, although the road signs said Bedoin to the right, we turned left to Corillon le Brave, and despite a bit of a climb to the town, Simon having become a budding photographer over the last 4 days found all sorts of creative vistas to snap. Finally, with an excellent photographic record under our belts- well Simon’s, we completed the last 3km back.
5 and a half hours later, back in Bedoin – a short cool down- 40 miles and over 3000 ft of yes more climb later. I was glad the bikes were to be picked up that evening, there wasn’t another “short,” anything more we could fit in. All that remained was some wine and a good meal to celebrate a fantastic four days.
Provence is definitely worth the visit, even if you aren’t a cycle nut and don’t want to complete the Ventoux beast, there are some lovely gentle routes, enough to justify a lovely Provencal meal, some Rosé wine and people-watching in the sun.