Saturday morning dawned broody and cold with a broken sky, but as weather has been cooling dramatically here in the south of France, the opportunity for a final ride on Mont Ventoux can’t be passed up. We head out early for a café au lait and croissant at a local bar in Vaison and catch the rising sun in a small square in the old roman quarter. The ride warms as we bump into locals we know on their weekend ascent – lots of banter, we rarely see a car. An hour later after a great pace, we break out of the forest and see the parking lot of the Chateau Reynard packed with end of season car and motorcycling enthusiasts from Germany and Holland soaking up the waning Provençal sun. We debate stopping for lunch, but agree that heading home for a warm bath and communal risotto is the plan.
As we climb up through the open scree slopes, we remark that the black and yellow striped snow poles have been installed. We pass a turnout where Saturday downhill mountain bikers (VTT here – velo tout terrain) have gathered to ride up on the J bar lift that has been opened for the day. We are cheered on – Allez, allez!
The summit is quiet, except for some bundled sightseers. We quickly suit up for the 45 minute descent to Malaucène and the waiting van. A quick hello to our bike shop friends who will be soon closing for the season, then home to light the fire with dried vine limbs from last year’s vineyard pruning. A fine way to end the ’11 Fall season. We laugh and try to imagine the first climb next Spring and trying to keep in condition over the winter ahead.