Exquisite beauty and exquisite pain entwine like lovers on the D974 from Bedoin to the summit of Mont Ventoux. The road climbs approximately 1550 metres over 21 kms giving an average gradient of around 7.5%….but these are just figures….the mountain has a magnetism that is more difficult to explain.
The massif dominates the Provencal landscape and can be seen from the beach at Port Saint Louis, situated at the mouth of the mighty River Rhône some 160 kms to the South.
Roland Hurtecant is a 77 year old Belgian cycling aficionado who has ridden to the top at least 187 times and declares in a review on the website ClimbByBike that he is emotionally attached to the mountain.
The Wattmeister is moved by this revelation. For just his third ascent, on Saturday September 24th 2016, he joined a company of mostly lycra-clad pilgrims pedalling their way to the top. The caravan included runners, walkers, and cyclists of every shape and size testing themselves against, and being humbled by the scenery.
The D974 wends its way from Bedoin, steeply through the forest, said to be home to wolves, before a lunar landscape reveals itself about 500 metres of vertical climb from the peak.
Imagine the weight of all the rock and stones which bedeck the flanks of this behemoth.
Despite its renown (and steepness), riding on this road is a glorious experience, affording the most dramatic views on a clear day.
Once at the top, it is easy to understand why Roland Hurtecant keeps coming back.