- 3km Swim in Mediterranean Sea
- 160km Ride with 3187m Elevation Gain
- Aix en Provence to Vaison-la-Romaine w/ Mont Ventoux
- 10km Run
Day one of camp kicked off with a stunning 3km sunrise swim in the Mediterranean Sea, entering from a beach in Carry-le-Rouet. The swim opened with a 2.2km ‘race’ with points on the line, so most of us got right to business. Knowing that I might have a shortened ride (more on that below), I pushed a bit and felt pretty good. I finished 3rd in the group and then did a brief cool down to hit the 3km total and really soak in the views.
Having yet to do the Kailua Bay swim at Kona, this by far the prettiest swim I’ve done in my life. A bit choppy and cold, but still fantastic. (Was happy to have worn my wetsuit; 2 or 3 of us had sleeveless suits and required some thawing out after the session. And no, the guy in the speedo below, did not do the swim after all...)
Despite promises from Air France, at this point I still had no bike. No riding for me as a result :/ While I waited around at the airport, here’s what the others did. Oh, and it was super windy…
Soon after the swim, the crew rolled out at 8:30am heading east from Aixe-de-Provence to Vaison-la-Romaine in Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur. The ride would be 164km with the iconic Tour de France climb, Mont Ventoux, coming at the 112km mark.
The group would ride up Mont Ventoux from the South, the most famous and difficult of the ascents, and would time trial (TT) it for King of the Mountain (KOM) points and the camp Polka Dot Jersey (see significance here). This would make for a BIG first day... As Wikipedia shares, going from Bedoin to Mont Ventoux is "one of the toughest in professional cycling" (wiki link). The day's totals for the ride would be 164km riding and 3187m elevation gain. As camp organizer John Newsom said afterwards, "We ease into things, keeping it light on Day 1 and building from there."
More from Wiki on Mont Ventoux for the geeks:
The road to the summit has an average gradient of 7.43%. Until Saint-Estève, the climb is easy: 3.9% over 5,8 km, but the 16 remaining kilometres have an average gradient of 8.9%. To serve as a comparison the climb of L'Alpe d'Huez is about 13.8 km at an average gradient of 7.9%. The last kilometres may have strong, violent winds. The ride takes 1h30m-2h30m for trained amateur riders. Professional riders take 1h-1h15 min. The fastest time so far recorded has been that of Iban Mayo in the individual climbing time trial of the 2004 Dauphiné Libéré: 55' 51". The time was measured from Bédoin for the first time in the 1958 Tour de France, in which Charly Gaul was the fastest at 1h 2' 9".
Mont Ventoux has become legendary as the scene of one of the most grueling climbs in the Tour de France bicycle race, which has ascended the mountain fifteen times since 1951. The followed trail mostly passes through Bédoin. Its fame as a scene of great Tour dramas has made it a magnet for cyclists around the world.
The mountain achieved worldwide notoriety when it claimed the life of British cyclist Tom Simpson, who died here on July 13, 1967 from heat exhaustion caused by a combination of factors, including dehydration (caused by lack of fluid intake and diarrhea), amphetamines, and alcohol, although there is still speculation as to the exact cause of his death.
Needless to say, I was super bummed to miss this ride. While all rolled in to the hotel 9-10 hours after having set out, looking completely shelled, they were pleased to have experienced the brutality of Mont Ventoux in all its glory.
I’ll include my buddy’s Garmin file of the ride in due time.
By 6pm I had my bike in Provence. A huge victory considering that I thought I might never see it again. I took a little cruise through Vaison-la-Romaine. Beautiful countryside with vineyards everywhere.
The day was rounded out with a 10km run. I did this in late morning while still in Aixe.