Mont Ventoux by Brompton – Stage 1

Bromptoux Day 2
Stage Distance: 40 miles (approx)
Stage Start: 6:40am

I awoke early. It wasn’t the bed that was the problem, it was pretty comfortable and quiet. I’d not slept brilliantly; there were too many things swimming around in my head. What if we missed a train? What if the bike broke? What if Mont Ventoux was closed for some reason? The last dream I remember having centred around getting a puncture then looking at the wheel, only to discover that the rim seemed to be made of tin foil.

Clearly it was time for a coffee and then time to get on the road. We loaded up the Brompton’s and set off.

We made good time to St Pancras, a pretty easy ride. Even the traffic lights seemed in our favour, being mostly green all the way. Checking in for the Eurostar was simple. I’d opted to bag my bike in an Ikea Dimpa bag which worked well, even when the security staff insisted that the Brompton’s needed to be placed in the small plastic tray’s to go through the scanners. Somehow we balanced them.

The Eurostar left on time and we made good time to Paris.

Across Paris

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Gare de Lyon – Paris crossed 🙂

Disembarking at Paris Gare du Nord, we faced the first bit of navigation of the trip, getting across Paris to Gare de Lyon, in order to catch the TGV to Avignon. The route was planned in my Garmin, and fortunately was easy to follow, once we;d found our way out of the station. Paris has more cycle paths than London, and the drivers was pretty good too.

Paris Route

It was hot. Very hot. The ride to Gare de Lyon was short, about 15 minutes, but we arrived sweating even so. Time to pack the bikes back up, load them into the TGV, remember to ‘composter’ our billets, and then we were off. It was a double decker train, and the view from the top deck was pretty good as we sped through France.

Avignon to Villes Sur Auzon

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Loading up at Avignon TGV. The ride was about to get hot…

We got to Avignon on time and unfolded our bikes on the platform. If we thought it was hot in Paris then it was hotter here. We’d arrived at 3:30, pretty much the hottest part of the day, and not we had 30 miles to ride to the campsite.

campsite route

Getting out of Avignon on a bike, particularly from the TGV station, is not easy or fun. We ended up riding the first 300 metres on the hard shoulder of the dual carriageway ring-road, simply because there did not appear to be another way to go. The next 3 miles were on random shared paths, bits of cycle path, and occasionally pavements. There didn’t seem another option. Finally we escaped from Avignon’s grip, and settled into the route; a nice mix of D roads and small farm tracks through the countryside of Provence.

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And there it is, Mont Ventoux!

Suddenly, as we rounded a corner, there it was. In the distance the Beast of Provence reared up, complete with what looked like it’s own weather system on the top. It would not leave our sight for the rest of the ride. Closer and closer we got, and yet it was still in the distance.

We’d under estimated the heat and the ride distance. Although it was nothing when compared with the mountain itself, we were also climbing. We were getting tired, running out of water, and in need of a shower. Fortunately, just as things were beginning to get a little desperate (well ok, things were getting irritating, and hot), we reached the village of Villes Sur Auzon and our campsite. Success.

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At last, the campsite. Lesson learnt, don’t under-estimate the heat of a summer in Provence.

Next steps were booking in, eating ice cream, pitching the tent and then straight into the pool for a very well needed dip and a cool down. We ate at the campsite (despite the waitress asking us repeatedly whether we had a booking, despite the restaurant area being practically empty), then had an early night.

Ok, so maybe just a little wine :)
Ok, so maybe just a little wine 🙂

Tomorrow Ventoux. It would be hot. We needed to leave early.

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