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Climbing Mont Ventoux - Part 2
 
By Locutus
Date: 6/7/2006
Climbing Mont Ventoux - Part 2
 

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 Ross.

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 myself.
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 © Ben Ross.

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 street.

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.

More
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