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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I live on the west coast of Canada (not that this really matters :) ) and will be in France for most of July (what luck!). I plan on going to watch the stage up Mont. Ventoux, riding there and back from Avignon which is abour 45K away.

My question to you all, or those of you who have been to this stage is this. What time do I need to be at the bottom of the hill in order to start my way up to how ever far I can get before the crowds get too big?

I'm told the riders will be at the base around 3PM, I'm also told that they close the roads off around the area early... but my problem is HOW early? I know I can only expect to get part way up the hill arriving with only a few hours before the riders, and I'm okay with that. But I can't afford to be stopped at the bottom of the hill or before for my first trip to see the TDF after racing for almost 40 years!
Thanks!
Pat
 

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TVR2500M said:
I live on the west coast of Canada (not that this really matters :) ) and will be in France for most of July (what luck!). I plan on going to watch the stage up Mont. Ventoux, riding there and back from Avignon which is abour 45K away.

My question to you all, or those of you who have been to this stage is this. What time do I need to be at the bottom of the hill in order to start my way up to how ever far I can get before the crowds get too big?

I'm told the riders will be at the base around 3PM, I'm also told that they close the roads off around the area early... but my problem is HOW early? I know I can only expect to get part way up the hill arriving with only a few hours before the riders, and I'm okay with that. But I can't afford to be stopped at the bottom of the hill or before for my first trip to see the TDF after racing for almost 40 years!
Thanks!
Pat
I never have been to a stage at Mr. Ventoux, but I have been to other mountain stages at the TDF. The local papers will publish road closure times and if you scout out the area a day or two in advance of the race, there will be posted signs with the road closure times. Those times, however, pertain to auto traffic, not bike traffic. You should be able to ride a bike up the climb at any time up to the point where the publicity caravan starts to come trough -- about an hour before the race. Insofar as your finding a space near the top of the climb is concerned, I would expect that lots of people will be camping out on the mountain for days before the stage and other people will be up there early in the day of the race. But, you should be able to squeeze in there up to a few hours before the race. If I were you, I would plan to be at the base by late morning. Even if you are a fast climber, it will take you a long time to get up the mountain because the road will be full of people and bikes. Also, you should have food and drinks with you -- food and drink vendors along the route of the TDF are rare and the only cafe along the route, Chalet Renard, probably will be mobbed. Finally, have lots of sunscreen and something to provide shade for yourself. There are no trees on the final KMs of the climb and if it is sunny, it will be very hot.

If you want more info about viewing the TDF, search the archives for posts by teoteoteo. He has written a lot about being a tourist at the tour.

Good luck.
 

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TVR2500M said:
I live on the west coast of Canada (not that this really matters :) ) and will be in France for most of July (what luck!). I plan on going to watch the stage up Mont. Ventoux, riding there and back from Avignon which is abour 45K away.

My question to you all, or those of you who have been to this stage is this. What time do I need to be at the bottom of the hill in order to start my way up to how ever far I can get before the crowds get too big?

I'm told the riders will be at the base around 3PM, I'm also told that they close the roads off around the area early... but my problem is HOW early? I know I can only expect to get part way up the hill arriving with only a few hours before the riders, and I'm okay with that. But I can't afford to be stopped at the bottom of the hill or before for my first trip to see the TDF after racing for almost 40 years!
Thanks!
Pat
Short Answer EARLY, long answer below on my TdF Travel Blog. If you are driving 8am. if you are driving I would also say you likely can drive up the D974 from Malaucene and park to walk the last several k so that you can see the race from the TOP of Ventoux.

I do an informational blog on Tour Travel. I have been to the last 2 stages up the Ventoux and an article on that stage. Also, if you look at the blog archive there are lots of articles on trip planning.


http://www.letourtravel.blogspot.com/
 

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There are standard closure rules, but on the really popular climbs, like Alpe d'Huez, the usual rules don't apply. Ventoux is likely to fall into that category. The road could be closed to cars the day before, but bikes should be fine up to an hour before the caravan arrives. Even then, a gendarme may decide that it's closed earlier. If you plan on hitting the summit first, I would plan on doing it by about noon. Then cruise back down to a good vantage point and enjoy the madness. If you start too late, you could be prevented from coming back down from the summit.
 

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I can't even get the TDF on tv anymore... you lucky dog!!
 

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The ride from Avignon TGV or Central station to Bedoin sucks. I would take one of the numerous coaches from Avignon (either station) to Carpentras at least and ride from there. They take bikes in the roomy underbody luggage bays.

Teo's suggestion to go up the North side is a good one too. That climb is as hard as the route from Bedoin but may be easier to get to.

If you insist on riding from the TGV to the Ventoux, a much more pleasant and less trafficky option is to ride from Orange... but not as many trains stop there as it is on the old TGV line to Avignon central station.
 

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philippec said:
Teo's suggestion to go up the North side is a good one too. That climb is as hard as the route from Bedoin but may be easier to get to.

If he is going by car the northside is the best option hands down but I just re--read and he is on bike. If he was via car this follows one of my most important tdf travel rules. In a car always do everything you can to get to a stage WITHOUT using any portion of the actual race route.

Many a good days have been scuttled when the local Gendarmes have to shut down roads.

Also, Mohair is spot on. If you are on bike on a big mountain day you should aim to be at the base and riding up by 9 ish, if you only plan on climbing part of the way, I would say no later than 10-11ish. Venoux will be as crazy as Alpe du Huez, Tourmalet or any of the other "monument mountains" of the tour.

Be early and don't leave anything to do, or buy the day of the event that you can do the day before.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks

Thankyou all for some fantatic information and insight, I really appeciate it. I sure hope somone on the mountain speaks English as I do not know a word fo French!

Pat
 

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Give some thought to what you want to take away from this experience. If to be close to the riders stay lower on the slope and away from barriers. If the finish get there SUPER early as the primo viewing will be reserved for VIP passes and it will be a scramble for a spot non insiders can see from. If you want to watch the stage and how it unfolds you need a spot near a jumbo screen. I don't know the Ventoux finish but typically mountaintops are narrow and tight on space so get there early and take something to do ( book etc) as it will be a long time to the riders arriving. Other really useful tip is a blackberry or iphone to follow the live race updates if you are not near a screen. If you are lower look for a motorhome with a dish and dutch beer as this can be really fun but know some names of dutch riders and remember they (Dutch fans) are professionals and you can get hurt trying to hang with them. Whatever you expect the TDF will be bigger with more people than you can imagine.
Cheers,
Bill
 

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Wborgers said:
Give some thought to what you want to take away from this experience. If to be close to the riders stay lower on the slope and away from barriers. If the finish get there SUPER early as the primo viewing will be reserved for VIP passes and it will be a scramble for a spot non insiders can see from. If you want to watch the stage and how it unfolds you need a spot near a jumbo screen. I don't know the Ventoux finish but typically mountaintops are narrow and tight on space so get there early and take something to do ( book etc) as it will be a long time to the riders arriving. Other really useful tip is a blackberry or iphone to follow the live race updates if you are not near a screen. If you are lower look for a motorhome with a dish and dutch beer as this can be really fun but know some names of dutch riders and remember they (Dutch fans) are professionals and you can get hurt trying to hang with them. Whatever you expect the TDF will be bigger with more people than you can imagine.
Cheers,
Bill

Good advice, too windy typically at the summit for the big screen though, plus the real estate up there is really limited. Vent=wind and tout=any or all so add them up and you get Ventoux.

In 2002 big screen was at Chalet Reynard in a lot adjacent from the restaurant. I was at the summit in 2000 and it was too windy that day too, but I don't recall where they put it as I didn't go but about 3k down from the summit.

When the wind is extra nasty there is no real relief. Weather is always tricky it can be 95 at the bottom and nearly just as bad at the top but it also can be 95 at the bottom and 50 with very cold gusts at the top. I can only think of one really blessed weather day in my 5-6 runs at the Ventoux and that was the day I rode up with Philippe and MarkS.

Since your alone I'd say look for a nice spot on the way up, trying to occupy one space at the top by yourself would be very tough, if you have a group it's easier as you can take bathroom breaks and such in shifts without losing your spot.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
My plan (I posted this) is not to get greedy with a spot (top) and go about as far as I can and still stay in what shade there may be and away from the crowds, sun and wind. Okay, I may not see the final battle but what ever I see, is more than I have ever seen before and you know, I'm just fine with that!
Pat
 

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TVR2500M said:
My plan (I posted this) is not to get greedy with a spot (top) and go about as far as I can and still stay in what shade there may be and away from the crowds, sun and wind. Okay, I may not see the final battle but what ever I see, is more than I have ever seen before and you know, I'm just fine with that!
Pat
I think that's a good idea. You can go up to about 1500m and still have some vegetation; after that it's pretty naked. IMO if you're not some sort of well-connected VIP, mid-mountain is by far the best place to be; you get to see the riders moving at normal human speeds, working their asses off, from just a few feet away...and you get to work in some good riding on mythic climbs. It's more spectacular than you can imagine until you see it.

Don't worry about not speaking French, at least not while the Tour is around:). The camping cars filled with professional Dutch party fiends mentioned above? They almost all speak very good English; just look for the NL on the license plates. While you can't expect too much English from of your average French paysan, percentage-wise there aren't too many of them around on Tour days. You will also encounter MANY Brits, Americans here and there...and also lots of others from all over using English as a third- or fourth-language tool of communication. One little suggestion for finding your way around: if you are looking for a road and talking to a French person (in any language), don't try and ask for the number of the road, but rather ask for the next big town to which that road leads. For some reason they just don't pay attention to the numbers; people who have lived their whole lives in the same little valley sometimes won't know the number of roads they've used thousands of times. It's a bit as if you were lost in Orange County and had to ask for the road that goes to San Diego instead of asking for the 5. I learned this the hard way, lost in the French countryside, asking locals where the D34 or the N84 was and getting nothing but blank stares.

Beyond that, teoteoteo's blog is as good of a preparation for Tour-watching as anything I've seen in English; he's done a great service to the English-speaking bicycle world, and there's not too much to add. My single, tiny complaint is his account of the etymology of Mt. Ventoux, which is not, in all likelihood, a semantic commentary on the ubiquitous and ever-shifting winds that swirl around the mountain, and more likely either a reference to a gaelic word for a pagan deity found scratched into some rocks in the area, or another more local and pre-French deity, both of whom have names that coincidentally look and might have sounded a bit like the modern French words for wind and windy...but no one knows for sure:). The mountain was, for obvious reasons once you see it, certainly worshipped since forever, and you will worship it too...have a great trip!
 

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TVR2500M said:
My plan (I posted this) is not to get greedy with a spot (top) and go about as far as I can and still stay in what shade there may be and away from the crowds, sun and wind. Okay, I may not see the final battle but what ever I see, is more than I have ever seen before and you know, I'm just fine with that!
Pat

There are trees just to where the the D164 and D974 come together near Chalet Reynard. After that just the moonscape...
 

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there is some seriously steep stuff down in the trees below Reynard. Personally, I would ride it up to the summit and roll back down till you can find a place roadside. Bring a bottle of wine or beers and someone will make room for you. Good advice on sunscreen and something to read.
Teo, could he take the longer alternate route up the SE side? Its the longer route I think but not the northside route.
 

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where on the westcoast? im in vancouver and saw the last stage of the 08 tour, from etampes to paris. i was 4 hrs early in paris got first row at the finish line. bloody awesome!


have fun in july and get there super early and bring lottta food and water.
 
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