Cycling up Mont Ventoux should be a fantastic, bucket-list experience. To make sure you remember it for all the right reasons, you need to prepare accordingly.
Working with Dylan and the team at Mont Ventoux Cycling Club, who are based in Mormoiron, very close to Mont Ventoux, here are our top tips to help ensure success.
1. You need to be fit to climb Ventoux by bike; if you haven’t trained, you are going to struggle. We also strongly suggest you practice descending hairpin corners before you arrive. This is not the place to learn.
2. At an absolute minimum, you will need arm warmers, leg warmers and a windproof jacket for the summit. If the weather looks bad, pack and dress accordingly. For packing lists, click here.
3. Leave your deep section wheels at home. If it’s windy at the top of Ventoux, you won’t be happy.
4. If you aren’t a wiry climber, use a compact chainset.
6. The road is relatively narrow in many places. Expect lots of cars and other cyclists, particularly in summer.
7. Other than for the Sault route (where there are no markers), milestones every kilometre show:
Best times to cycle
8. An important part of cycling Ventoux is the notorious weather. The banner photo for this article was taken on one of our rides up Ventoux in early summer – but so was the photo below…
9. More on this below, but bear in mind that it can seem fine at the bottom, even though there’s thick fog and a cold wind further up. If you have any flexibility over which day you ride Ventoux, pick a day when the summit is clear, and weather reports are favourable.
10. Mont Ventoux is open between mid-April and mid-November from Bédoin, though it can be shut at any point throughout the year if the weather is bad.
11. Check the forecast the day before your ride and before you set out. You can check the current temperature at the summit and windspeed and direction here. If the wind looks very strong then choose whichever route that will mean it is mainly behind you (e.g. if the wind is coming from the northwest, don’t do the Sault route). The wind gusts over 50 mph 200 days a year on Ventoux!
12. Don’t underestimate the conditions on the summit, even in good weather, and/or when all is calm in Bédoin. The summit and the descent are very exposed and, crazy as it sounds, people are frequently blown off their bikes. If you want to see a Mont Ventoux webcam before you set out, try this.
13. It if rains, debris may get washed onto the road. Fog can also make things tricky. In summer, the heat can be intense. Set off early.
Other stuff for cycling up Mont Ventoux
Tips for the summit
14. Get your extra layers of clothes on quickly! Even if you aren’t planning on hanging around, you’ll need them for the descent.
15. If you have a support car, note that parking is limited and you may struggle to park in summer.
16. If the weather permits, remember to enjoy the incredible view from the summit – and take a photo to record your success!
(In case you are wondering, the lighthouse-like building is a meteorological observatory that was built in 1882 but is no longer in use. It is topped by a television transmitter.)
Time to the top
17. The pros do the route from Bédoin in about an hour. The fastest time recorded to date is Iban Mayo’s time of 55 minutes 51 seconds in the individual climbing time trial of the 2004 Dauphiné Libéré. Top amateurs ride it in less than two hours.
Mt Ventoux cycling photographers
18. During high season on the Bédoin and Sault routes, Mount Ventoux photographers take photos of you on your way to the summit after Chalet Reynard. You can visit their website and buy the photo later.
And finally – French cycling laws
19. Be aware of France’s equivalent of the Highway Code, and particularly the specific rules for cyclists. The pictogram below summarises the obligatory equipment you should have to avoid being fined. We rarely see road cyclists in France with lights or bells, and we ourselves have never had any problems, but it’s best to be aware of the rules and make your own decision.
Cycled Ventoux and got some additional tips? Please comment below or drop us a line!
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Dylan Reynolds and Benjamin Bonneuil set up the Mont Ventoux Cycling Club in 2021. The club is a hub for bike rentals, repairs, sales and tours in the Ventoux area. It is situated in the heart of the village of Mormoiron which is 6km from Bédoin. By combining Benjamin’s experience as a mechanic and Dylan’s background with organising bike tours their complimentary skill sets form the basis of the club.