Category Archives: Grand Tour

Mt Ventoux vs Mt Wellington

Dear Rouleurs,

This will be the first of three blogs inspired by Team MMT’s recent holidays in southern Spain and France.  This one focuses on our recent visit to Mont Ventoux, which has close proximity to the the old Papal city of Avignon.  Avignon has been on our collective travel bucket list for a while now. Besides being endowed with seemingly endless medieval architecture and history, Avignon is only 30 minutes from the iconic Mont Ventoux.  Initially when Team MMT drew up its holiday plans, a half day was allocated to attempting ascent on the summit.  Leading up to our departure, the realisation that a more serious preparation was required set in.  Consequently the attempt was jettisoned from our holiday itinerary.

Whilst we were in Spain, its was announced that stage 12 of the 2016 Tour de France would finish at the summit. From that point I was determined that we view the ‘Giant of Provence’ first hand.

MtVentouxMap

Initially as you drive towards Mont Ventoux, it looks like it has a snow cap, particularly in the afternoon light.  This optical illusion is provided by the famous ‘bald’ peak. The ascent from Bedoin starts at the 0km marker and winds its way through the town and nearby villages.  Once you enter the forest, the hard work starts.  As we visited in mid-autumn, it was ablaze with green, yellow, red and amber coloured leaves. It is easy to see why Paul Cezanne made his home in Provence. Most the climb is sheltered by this forest. In some ways it must be disheartening to riders, as the pinnacle isn’t visible until the last 6 km.

Whilst we were early, a number of riders were on their way up, mostly riding by themselves.  I was surprised to see a spritely 60 something year old on a modern Bianche making steady progress. Many riders were using either mountain bikes or eBikes. The road is well cared for and has many names and messages spray painted across its width.  Some of the hairpins turn were ridiculously steep.  Finally we emerged from the treeline and and had the ‘oh wow’ moment.  TV coverage doesn’t do the view up to and from the summit any justice it was spectacular.

In some ways it reminds me a bit of Mount Wellington in Hobart Tasmania.  The comparison isn’t as silly as it sounds.  Depending on starting  point, that an ascent of Mt Wellington is about 21k with an average gradient of 6.7%, but has a much lower pinacle at 1270m, compared to Mt. Ventoux.

Mt-Wellington_profile

Having driven up both peaks within 4 weeks of each other, Mont Ventoux is consistently more difficult, especially from the Bedoin side. From an asthletics perspective I think the east facing view from Mount Wellingon, overlooking the city of Hobart is superior.

In hindsight, having driven to the summit from Bedoin, deciding against an ascent was a smart move.  Quite frankly it would have been foolish given that my only riding had been on flat roads.  If I had come directly from Australia, rather eating and drinking my way around southern Spain and France with Team MMT, an attempt form the Sault side may have been doable.

From Bedoin the gradient profile is, quite frankly, intimidating.  A rider commencing their ascent from Bedoin, starts about 300m above sea level and climbs about 1600m over approximately 22km.  The basic math provides an average gradient of 7.5% with two really nasty sections over 10%.  However, its worth pointing out that this is an average and that there a number of sections over 12%, ‘hiding’ inside the orange sections….shudder!!!

Ventoux Bedoin profile-1

From Sault, the gradient profile is benign by comparison.  A rider commencing their ascent from Sault, starts about 690m above sea level and climbs about 900m over approximately 26km.  The initial approach is much easier.  The first 20 or so kilometres has a average gradient of about 3.6%.  However, the final 6 km is the same as the Bedoin route.

Ventoux sault profile-1

So onto the photos.  I’ve chosen 6 of the better ones. I have to point out that Team MMT was really lucky with the weather. It was both crystal clear and still at the summit. Prior reading indicated that Mont Ventoux experiences high winds for about 120 days of the year and has the highest recorded windspeed in Europe at its summit.

 BedoinSign-01
 ForestRider-01
 The sleepy village of Bedoin.  An intrepid rider ascending through the forest.
 SummitMarker-01  SummitSign-01
 The official highway marker.  Yours truly, with the famous sign.
 WeatherStation-01  SouthView-01
 The iconic ‘lighthouse’ at the summit.  View to the south.

so, where does this leave me now? Well I think I’m going to have to try Mount Wellington next time I’m in Hobart.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to source a decent road bike with a third inner chain ring.  After that well, I would love to return to Europe and have go at the ‘Giant’.  I had been thinking about doing the L’Eroica of Gaiole for my 50th birthday, may I’ll be able to add this as well.

Continuing on with the travel theme, in the next blog I’ll be writing about the visit Team MMT made to the famous Otero Bicycle Shop in Madrid.  Until then ride safe.

Marv

Richmonditis, La Vuelta coverage and the flying bike

 

Dear Rouleurs,

I’m suffering from a severe case of Richmonditis.  Its symptoms include bouts of Tourette’s syndrome like swearing, depression, and a desperate need to curl up in the foetal position on the floor, spontaneous crying and occasional abdominal pain.  It strikes epidemic like levels in Melbourne in the first few weeks of September each year. Its symptoms subside in early October.  It is followed by amnesia and irrational optimism in the months leading up to March of the following year.  Unfortunately once contracted its incurable. Those of you, that are fellow Richmond supporters, will know exactly what I mean.

Also, my current disposition is not helped by being unable to follow the La Vuelta on SBS this year.  Thirty minutes on a few sequential Saturdays is hardly sufficient.  Yes there is that wonderful thing called the Internet…but still.  It is almost enough for me to sign up for Foxtel cable tv. I’ve deliberately avoided doing this in the past for fear of further exceeding the maximum level of “pearshaped”-ness that my 45 year body is allowed to have. I digress.

Oh that's going to hurt Matthew......

Oh that’s going to hurt Matthew……

So the main reason for this particular blog entry was the spectacular crash captured in today’s Sun Herald on page 3. See above.  Dear God, I hope this kid Matthew Rice is ok.  What a horrible crash.  It’s a minor miracle that no-one else was injured. Likewise,  a big “hope you’re ok” to the rider who had a heart attack at Amy’s Grand Fondo.

It’s amazing photo by Stephen Harman and unfortunately I can’t include a link to the online equivalent.  Hopefully this newspaper’s or photographer’s lawyers are too litigious 😉

Until next time,

Marv

Woo woo, here comes the Sky Train…

Dear Rouleurs,

In lieu of a proper blog about the shenanigans at 2015 edition of La Vuelta, for example various members of the Tinkoff-Saxo squad, most notably Peter Sagan, being struck by motorcycles and Chris Froome breaking his ankle, I thought I would provide another infographic.  Its been liberated from the rather wonderful RCUK’s Infographic Guide to Cycling .  I’ve provided the link to Amazon as shameless plug, hopefully, to ward off legal action for a blatant breach of copyright.

Woo...woo...here comes the Skytrain...

Woo…woo…here comes the Skytrain…

Here at marvmadethis.com, we’ve long identified that infographics are the preferred communication media of the attention/literacy challenged Gen Y.  For those of us not in that underachieving demographic, infographics occasionally capture something useful or entertaining.

The illustration above  does both, showing how Team Sky propel their GC rider, Chris Froome, along in a mountain stage. By keeping the tempo high, they attempt to prevent attacks from less well supported climbers, for example Alberto Contador.

I’m not sure which one of these was meant to Richie Porte 😉

Until next time

Marv

Oh Vincenzo what were you thinking….???

Dear Roulers,

There should be a former Tour de France, La Veulta and Giro winner, smacking his forehead and saying ‘Stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid’ or in the Sicilian dialect ‘Stunatu, stunatu, stunatu, stunatu’. Mr Nibali and Mr Shefer of Team Astana – what were you thinking? You both have been thrown out of La Vuelta 2015 for a flagrant ‘sticky bottle’ work with your team car.

This weeks loser - Vincenzo Nibali

Loser – Vincenzo Nibali

And yes, MMT had a recent blog on this very issue. And yes the author cheerfully pointed out that hanging on to a motor bike or car is just plain cheating. You can read the full story here – at SBS Cycling –  Nibali thrown out of Vuelta a Espana.   Looks like the French and the Spanish have decided to give their respective countrymen a better chance at the overall GC title by disqualifying Nibali 😉

Speaking of people that should be kicking themselves, WTF was going on with Stage 1 of the 2015 version of Vuelta. Compacted sand and rubber matting on a TT course that was barely 2 metres wide for its 7km length?? What were the race organisers thinking?? I think Chris Froome’s twitter photos give you a pretty good idea why the Peloton were so unhappy. Notwithstanding, BMC Racing won the event with Orica GreenEdge finishing third.

Loser - Stage 1 La Vuelta TT course

Loser – Stage 1 La Vuelta TT course

Finally, a big ‘Chapeau’ to BMC Racing’s resident Aussie Rohan Dennis who has just won USA Pro Challenge. He finished 40 seconds ahead of his American team-mate Brent Bookwalter.

Winner - BMC's Rohan Dennis

Winner – BMC’s Rohan Dennis

There you have it two winners and 2 losers in the wonderful world of UCI.

Until next time,

Marv