The Fireflies Tour - Day Seven: Carpentras to Manosque
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
"The Giant of Provence"
It was with a mixture of nerves and excitement that the
Fireflies set off bright and early to face the biggest mountain of
the tour - Mont Ventoux. Ever since signing up for this
year's ride, this is the one that had been keeping Alex awake at
night - that, and Chris's snoring of course. Lovingly
referred to as the 'Giant of Provence', the summit is a massive
1912m high and it is widely regarded by cyclists across the world
as one of the ultimate rides.
With only a short 10km stint until they hit the bottom of the
mountain, the general mood amongst camp was that they were all
going to "ride their guts out"! A good time for the 22km ride
is considered to be 2 hours and as the 35˚C sun shone down, they
crossed the start line at Bédoin
to begin the most famous and difficult ascent with one eye on the
The mountain itself has very unusual geography with two-thirds
of it shrouded by a thick blanket of forest and the other third
completely exposed to the elements - in this case, the June sun and
some of Europe's strongest winds. It is even said that
Napoleon built the Armada with trees from the mountain due to their
remarkable strength and resistance to these winds, thus leaving a
large section of forest missing from the top and creating a unique
Making their way up the steep, brutal road, there was no let off
as the sun beat down on the exposed mountain roads or even when
they were trapped inside the thick forest curtain - a proper
lung-buster! In true Fireflies fashion, they cheered each
other on as they pushed themselves to their physical limits. But
one by one, they all proudly made it to the top.
Chris and Alex
celebrate at the summit
There were emotional scenes with plenty of whooping, tears and
Chris and Alex sharing a 'very significant man-hug'. As well
as a few glasses of bubbly, they were also rewarded with some
amazing mountain-top views and an impromptu display from France's
equivalent of the Red Arrows who roared overhead complete with
blue-smoke billowing to pull some impressive aerobatic manoeuvres -
what a welcome!
Both Alex and Chris put in absolutely fantastic times -
Fireflies newbie Alex clocking in just under the magic 2 hour mark,
and Chris steaming in with a sensational personal best of 1 hour 37
- not only beating his previous time by over 5 minutes, it was also
the third quickest time of the day. Amazing!!!
victorious! ... and the view down the mountain
As they hooned off down the mountain at breakneck speed, they
headed in to Sault to enjoy some coffee and ice-cream, before
starting a 70km romp through the beautiful lavender fields of
Provence and onto the home straight. The truly epic day drew
to a close as the last group pulled into Manosque at 9pm, their
final destination. Phew!
Well done guys, you've done us proud!
STATS FROM THE DAY:
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