Mont Ventoux beckons…
Like many keen cyclists, we had the urge to pit ourselves against Mt. Ventoux in France. Often featured in the Tour de France the 23km climb to the summit at 6,263 feet is on many a pedal pusher’s bucket list. So I started to look at a route from Caen – we live a day’s ride (for the fit, or two for us) north of Portsmouth and the ferry to the Normandy Coast at Ouistreham.
Initially I used the route planning tool in Strava to determine the shortest cyclable route, but it became immediately apparent, with over 37,000 feet of climbing, that would not be possible for us on our loaded Hase Pino.
The north of France was ok, but the Massive Central was the problem…
Obviously, if we could follow rivers and canals for much of the ride, that would be a lot flatter, so I looked at using the Loire, the Central Canal, The Saône and the Rhône. This flattened the route quite a bit, the highest point was now only 1,000 feet rather than 5,000, so and I decided to use this as a basis.
I used Memory-Map, coupled with OS 1:50,000 for the UK and the IGN France 1:100,000 to fine-tune the route. IGN displays some contours, so I could use these to work around the high ground where we could.
Over the early months of 2019 I spent hours refining the route and checking details using Memory-Map and Google Street View.
The bulk of the work was the first week’s riding across Normandy to reach the Loire. Once beside the river, we could utilise cycle paths, following signs and not worry so much about map-reading.
Route-wise, we were ready.
Then came the ITR
The International Tandem Rally (ITR) 2019 was to be in Marciac, about 40 miles or so short of the Pyrenees and about 80 miles west of Toulouse. This would take place the last week of August. It seemed logical to us that we could add the ITR into our tour without too much trouble – other than making the tour longer. It would mean we would follow a different route back home too, rather than retrace our outward route. So we added in the South coast of France, the Canal Du Midi to Toulouse and the flattest route I could find West to Marciac.
We would ride with the Tandem Club for a week then head for the West coast of France, South of Bordeaux. We could follow the coast North then cut inland via Angers and end up back at Caen.