Plan A was to go to Wales in late October and explore the gravel tracks in the mountains west of Rhayader. Then Storm Brian arrived and Plan B looked more attractive. The problem was, Plan B was only loosely formed: ‘find somewhere a lot further south – warmer, drier – and then go climb some big hills’.

We checked forecasts all over Europe: Andermatt: rain. Luz St.Saveur: rain. Bormio: rain. Riva del Garda: rain. Majorca was OK, but didn’t excite us enough. Then we checked Bedoin: dry. We checked the wind: Monday: too strong. Tuesday: ride-able. Wednesday and Thursday: perfectly still. Friday: the Mistral would return with a vengeance!

We took a massive gamble, booked our flights, hire car and hotel, packed bikes and flew into Marseilles on the Monday evening. An airport out of season: no queues, luggage and bikes arrived in minutes, car upgrade and off we went, up the A7.

The wind was moving the car as we drove north in the darkness. Tom and I exchanged nervous glances.

But, thankfully, the meteo was 100% accurate and the following three days were about as perfect as late Autumn riding in Provence can get. We rode all around the mountain, discovering so much more than just Ventoux – the entire area is amazing. We rode up the mountain on each outing – once on the first day, twice on the second day and then, on the third day, we rode all three sides. The roads were deserted, the light magical and the riding perfect.

On Friday, the wind howled and we breathed a sigh of relief at the excuse to stay low and ride the Suzette loop to the north! We packed up, ate pizza and still had an hour free before setting out for the airport, so we headed for the summit in our hire car. At the Col des Tempêtes, I somehow managed to park up and open my door. I half crawled, half walked to the wall and looked over and almost lost my head! I now know what a hurricane force wind feels like and I now understand all the stories about wind and Ventoux.

SGL, Nov 2017.

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