a virtual mini-vacation…

(or: “why do I always fall for these stupid ideas…”)

Let’s start with a little history… In 2008, whilst cycling to the south of Spain, I decided to plan my route so that I could climb Mont Ventoux along the way… But, with three different roads going to the top, why climb it only once? The goal was set; join the ‘Club des cinglés du Mont Ventoux’, basically a ‘club’ (this was before any form of social media was mainstream) of people who climbed Mont Ventoux three times, from three different sides, on a single day… (for those who like numbers; a 137km ride with 4400meters of ascent and descent…).

So on Friday the 13th (what could possibly go wrong) of June 2008 I started, in the very, very early morning, to make sure that I had enough daylight for the final descent of the “triple”. Not being as serious as I am today about training, I had no idea what to expect…
At 06.18 AM I reached the summit for the first time! During the downhill the weather changed, and I almost froze of my bike… So down in Malaucene I decided to ride around the mountain back to the campsite, pack my tent, and continue my journey, and leave the Ventoux for another time…

…the changing weather is always a challenge at the Mont Ventoux…

A year later I went back with my dad. The goal was simple; 3 times, 1 day… During our first attempt the weather turned (as it seems to do a lot around that stupid little hill…), and we had to abort after two climbs. Looking back; that final descent was not really the safest ride, since it’s hard to brake with frozen fingers…
But two days later we tried again, climbed the first one at sunrise, and continued for two more climbs! On a beautiful sunny October day in 2009 we became Cinglé #2895 and #2896…

…that was a long day…

…climbing three times together… (looking at this photo I’m surprised that my skinny legs got me to the top 🙂 )…

now back to 2020…

With the world being locked down, many race- and event organisers are looking for different ways to host their events… So it was only a matter of time that my brother Daan (Cinglé #5794, since craziness seems to run in the family…) told me that the ‘Club des Cinglés’ now had a ‘virtual’ option, to keep people motivated to ride… My first reaction was (and this was an honest reaction!) “well, there are limits on the crazy stuff I do…”

Those who know me might as well stop reading, since they’ll know how this story is going to end…

So today I took my timetrial bike from the turbo, and replaced it with my road bike, to have acces to some smaller gears, installed the ‘Rouvy’ virtual cycling app (since that app had the official approved courses), got some food ready, and started the first climb of the day…

…todays officeview…

Bedoin – Mont Ventoux… This was the fun one; the legs are still fresh, the app shows me the video of the course on my tv, and the map and elevation plot on the ipad, so I’m actually enjoying this! Although I am slightly worried about the lack of smaller gears, not sure how I’m going to handle the steep parts when I’m getting tired…

…it’s virtually busy at the Chalet Reynard restaurant 6km from the top!…

With the distraction of the video time flies, and before I know it I reach the summit. No need to cycle down, and after the first lunch of the day I start the climb from Malaucene. This one is different; there’s no video for this course, so I’m just staring at the map, and see a dot moving slowly… But still; I feel good, and just under two hours after the start I’m back at the top!

…still smiling after climb number 2…

Time for lunch number two…

And now for the ‘easy’ one… the climb from Sault is the longest, but therefore also fairly easy. In the real world you can just get into a relaxt rhythm until 6km from the finish, where it gets harder… Unfortunately, the gps-elevation-data that’s used to control my trainer has a pretty ‘low resolution’… On the first two climbs the incline changed every 2 seconds or so, which meant that changes were really small, just as in the real world (going from 9% to 9.1%, to 9.2… to end up on 10%). The file they used to make the ‘sault’ course is different; the incline changes every 30 seconds, so it skips all the small steps in between, and sometimes goes from 1% straight to 14%, to then 30 seconds later overcompensate with a -0.5% downhill… So the ‘easy’ climb becomes a hard interval-set, and during the final hour I’m suffering… But then again; it wasn’t supposed to be easy…

…support in 2009… (although it might have been for Dutch cyclist Koen de Kort, who rode here during the Tour the France that year…)

After little over 5,5 hours on the turbo, I can now say I’ve climbed the the Triple-Ventoux both in real-life and virtually… And I can say that I won’t be doing the virtual one again!

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