Mont Ventoux is iconic. Known as the Giant of Provence, it is the only mountain in its proximity, and an endless source of tales. There are stories of raging storms, unimaginable amounts of agony and legendary fights during past Tours. So, naturally, it is attractive to many self-respecting cyclists who want to experience the Mont Ventoux themselves and discover what it is like to overcome this legend.
So with a few friends, I set up our base camp at the foot of Mont Ventoux, in transit from the Alps to the Pyrenees. We had allotted one afternoon in our itinerary to reach the top. We had good weather when we left Bedoín, even though the mountain top was covered in clouds, and then the temperature began to drop after each kilometre. During the last six kilometres, we rode into the clouds and were faced with a legendary Ventoux storm. I could only see 50 meters ahead of me and strong gusts of wind made riders (literally!) blow over with their bikes. Giving up was not an option, because we had to go to the Pyrenees the next day. So, with a temperature below the freezing point, we gladly welcomed the feeling coming back into our limbs when going down the descent.
When this happens you of course curse the mountain, and you do not even consider riding up again. But there are some people who ride up the Ventoux three, four or even six times in one day. These people are known as the Club des Cinglés du Mont Ventoux.
Private club (but open to new members)
The Club des Cinglés du Mont Ventoux is a private club, although the French do not take it too seriously by their own description. Anyone can join the club with only a few conditions, including:
- You must ride up the Mont Ventoux from, at least, the three asphalted main roads on the same day (between 00:00 and 23:59).
Of course you can’t just claim that you climbed the mountain. If you want to join the other 14,000 club members, you first have to register. During the registration you have to indicate whether you are going for the Cinglé (3 climbs; 137km; 4400 altimeters), Galérien (4 climbs; 183km; 6020 altimeters) or Bicinglette (6 climbs; 274km; 8800 altimeters).
When you have completed the registration, you pay €20, and will receive a stamp card. Once you have this stamp card, you can try to become a part of the club. You get a stamp in every starting place at participating restaurants or shops. You begin when the stamping stations open in the morning, and it is also possible to get a stamp (with photo control) afterwards. The stamp on the top only needs to be given once.
When all stamps, with times, are on the card, you return the stamp card to the organisation. They assess your performance, and will decline or accept you as a member of the club. Upon approval, you will receive a numbered medal. And when you’ve finished four or six climbs, you also receive a certificate. In addition, your name will be placed on the website on the list of new members.
Are you yet to ride the Mont Ventoux, or are you looking a great challenge? Then sign up here.