Climbing Mont Ventoux - Part 2
"One source of irritation on the climb up Mont Ventoux was that the butterflies
kept dropping me... After about the fifth butterfly dropped me, I declared them
my mortal enemies for life. The next day, incidentally, they struck again: while
wobbling up the final section of one of the monster climbs..."
Thankfully, on this trip we actually have some good photographers with some
real cameras. Ben Ross is a Cat 4 road racer from Nashville who's been racing
mountain bikes for years. He was the first from our group up Mont Ventoux, which
was convenient for us because then he could take pictures of us as we got to the
top. He also took some good pix of us along the way.
Ben Ross, Andrea Ross, and Reed Trickett discuss the road ahead
in the parking lot before setting out for Mont Ventoux. Photo © Patrick Sharp
One source of irritation on the climb up Mont Ventoux was that the
butterflies kept dropping me. These little black butterflies would flutter up to
my face, flit around my head for a minute, and then fly off my front wheel up
the climb. After about the fifth butterfly dropped me, I declared them my mortal
enemies for life. The next day, incidentally, they struck again: while wobbling
up the final section of one of the monster climbs, a butterfly tried to fly a
kamikaze mission down my throat into my lungs. Fortunately (or unfortunately),
my tongue thwarted the attack. Christophe Moreau, eat your heart out….
Joe O'Flaherty sets the pace on the way to Ventoux with Ray and I
right behind. Photo © Ben Ross.
Struggling up Mont Ventoux with sweat literally streaming off me, I
remembered that I got my Saeco Cannondale when Mario Cippolini was the team
captain, not Gilberto Simoni. Therefore, I reasoned, this bike must be designed
to make me climb like Super Mario. It wasn't my legs holding me back: it was the
bike! That thought made me feel good for about three feet, and then I started
getting pissed at the butterflies again.
My nether-cheeks died at about mile three out of thirteen on Mont Ventoux. Every
few hundred yards, I had to get out of the saddle to shake them out a bit and
bring them back to life. I'm now convinced that climbers don't get out of the
saddle to accelerate and attack, but rather simply to keep their butts awake.
Ben Ross and Ray Ashworth on top of Mont Ventoux. Photo © Ben
Every night, I go to bed exhausted, cranky, and a bit delirious. The next
morning, however, always brings back hope, and as I sit eating breakfast with my
fellow sojourners on this trip, I am reminded how much I am thoroughly enjoying
The O'Flaherty boys Joe "Dad," Joe "Son," and Roland like to play this game I
call "family feud"… whenever one of them gets a little bit up the road, the
others immediately have to chase after them. They are all triathletes who hammer
hard, but it was Joe "Dad" who had the ride of the day on Mont Ventoux, leaving
both of his twenty-something sons behind him as he stormed to the top. Not that
I was there to see it… I just heard about it once I got up there.
My 'sprint' up that final, steep pitch to the top of Mont Ventoux. There were
cars everywhere… I was having to dodge around some cars in the corner, and Ben
was trying to avoid getting run over by a van while taking this shot. Photo ©
Recurring joke of the trip. On the day we climbed the Mountain That Never
Ended (you know, that Basque short-cut to the Tour route), we asked Igor and
Ander several times how much further we had to the top. And a couple of times
Igor told us, "Just two kilometers. Then, pfffttt" (whistles while making
downhill curvy motion with hand). Afterwards Reed Trickett and Rusty McCain
started laughing about that comment, and now, whenever someone asks how much
farther we have to get somewhere, someone will chime in with a fake Basque
accent, "two kilometer. Then, phhfffttt!" Even Igor laughs and says that to us
now when we ask him distance questions, even if we're just walking down the
On The Climb That Wouldn't End, Igor tapped my wrist and said "no heart." I
said, "whahuh??" and then looked down to see that my heart monitor was on the
fritz: the display on my wrist read "00." Igor repeated, "No heart! You, dead!"
and laughed. I had to laugh too… I was sure dying on that climb all right.
Jersey Tours Journal: Day 1 - Montpellier to Nimes
Jersey Tours Diary: Preview #2
Jersey Tours Diary: Preview #1