Mont Ventoux – my minimalist fail

Photo: Wikipedia CC BY-SA3.0

“God damn f*ck, I will never get down alive”.

My Garmin shows about 10 kph, I can’t see more than twenty meters and I’am riding on the left side of the road … in France. I’m at the top of Mont Ventoux (21Kilometer uphill riding with aprox. 1500m climbing). Five degrees over zero. The wind blows with almost 100 kph, at least in my head. Every gust is so hard, that I’m scared of being blown off the road. That’s why I decided to ride down on the left side. On the right awaits the abyss, where it’s going down the 1912 meters. Luckily, there’s this small stripe for cyclists, enough for this confident 10 kph speed.


I know, if a car is coming, I will be in trouble. But it’s twenty past seven in the morning and I’m expecting to be out of this “Deathzone” in few minutes. And tadaaa … an RV is coming up – luckily he saw me. The “Deathzone” is the cloud which covers Mont Ventoux at the moment. I called it “Deathzone”, because it felt like the temperature suddenly dropped about 10 degrees in here when I pedaled this thing up. I had to put on my jacket and my first thought was: “OMG I have no gloves with me”.

Now that was my minimalist fail: no gloves. I stood at the top of Ventoux – in shorts -, thinking of what I can do. My first plan was to get in the Café at the top an sit this out, till the sun will come out again. So I rode this 50 meteres there. But: closed. Lastly it was 7 o’clock in the morning. My fingers where freezing cold and my hole body was shivering. My second plan was to call my wife, get in our car with heated seats and cruise down alive. But: Firstly it would take an hour till she would be here and secondly she will never let me ride a mountain again. So plan three: Get out of the “Deathzone” with intact fingers. Crazy enough, I had this idea to cover my hands in two plastic bags. One in which I carry my smartphone and the other one which covers my tools. “Maybe slippery on the brakes”, I thought, “but I have no better option”.

Every Kilometer I stopped and put a warm breath into my plastic bags. “Get to Chalet Reynard”, I thought. Chalet Reynard is a Restaurant 6 Kilometer from the top of Ventoux. “Maybe this is open and you can get a hot coffee.”

To my surprise the plastic bags worked out well. They did the job and with a few stops I got out of the “Deathzone”. But, as you thought it, Chalet Reynard was closed too.  I was halfway warm again and had a quarter of the way down behind me. “So f*ck it and do the rest”, I thought. I was shivering the hole way, but with every Kilometer, it got warmer and past the halfway point I got rid of my “Emergency-gloves”.

Well, I made it, but this ride was no pleasure. Mainly because I decided to dress light and took no gloves with me. There was this Minimalist in me saying: “You don’t need that stuff.” Partly there’s another reason. I had no experience in climbing mountains on a road bike. I could have known that it will be cold and I could have known that it’s a bad idea to start your ride at 5 o’clock in the morning (no restaurants).

So my tip for you: You’re a better Minimalist, if you can take advantage of knowledge.

What will you take on a ride up Mont Ventoux?


15 responses to “Mont Ventoux – my minimalist fail

  1. I respect you very much. When I went up Mt. Ventoux it was on a sunny day and I was driving a car. I got exhausted just thinking about doing it on a bike. That stretch uphill after the Chalet Reynard is extremely steep. What a place! What a challenge! And very beautiful, except where your legs and lungs are concerned.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Don’t be so hard on yourself: you rode up Mont Ventoux in the freezing cold in shorts and survived to relate the experience (with all your fingers intact!). I am an armchair cyclist who is a cycling fanatic when it comes to the professional races, What you achieved was an incredible feat. I just discovered your blog so I don’t know anything about you yet, I look forward to reading more. 👏🏻

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m impressed you rode up Mont Ventoux at all. More than I’ve done! Smart move to try the plastic bags. I’ve seen bicycle delivery guys using the same thing during winter, but I’m not sure I would’ve thought of it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ha.. I’d be that kind of stubborn to not want to quit! Yes, I’ve had times running or cycling wishing I had something with me. I just love the freedom of not being tied down with a bunch of stuff… but then like you said.. sometimes you wish you thought differently. Way to go for finishing what you started 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi UCI worlds went well was in relay team, came 11th, was part of fastest GB team as token old bloke. On road race I was in lead @ 20Km I knew the later hill sections would be tough so went early. I finished, 139th of 184 in my age range. At the back but still moving 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

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