The Ride Not Taken…

My calendar for May has multiple entries on it. Unfortunately, they are all for events that were supposed to happen in France. For example May 15 reads “Steve arrives”. That was when our friend Steve was supposed join us in Malaucene.

Today’s entry (May 17) says “Rich and Steve”. We had scheduled a long guided ride with 44|5. I wanted Steve’s first ride in France to be really special, so we planned to do a loop around Mont Ventoux.

Since that is not going to happen, I decided to write about this ride in some detail. I have been fortunate to ride my bicycle (or sometimes our tandem) on some incredible roads in some amazingly beautiful terrain. Someday I might put together a top 10 list. But I already think I know which ride will be #1: The loop Gerry took me on last year around Mont Ventoux. Let’s call it “The Malaucene Metric”

My Favorite Ride Ever? It Might Be…

The ride is a metric century, 100 km long (62 miles). None of it is completely flat, but the climbs are all manageable, and the total amount of climbing is 5,600 feet. The ride is also a true loop with no backtracking whatsoever.

The ride starts right from the front door of our rented house in Malaucene. Climb up the steep back street to the main road, and then 1/2 mile later turn off for the climb of the Col de la Madeline. The Col of the same name in the Alps is an HC monster, but this one is only about 1.5 miles long and is quite gentle. Descend to Bedoin where there are a few cars and probably a few thousand bikes, but most of them are heading up Ventoux, which we will save for a later day.

Head out of Bedoin on a quite country road towards Flasson. After we leave that village we start on the longest climb of the day on the old road to Sault. Ever since the ‘new’ road to Sault opened, this delightful 6 mile ascent has almost no traffic. And I mean NO TRAFFIC. I’ve done this climb twice, taking just under an hour each time. In 2018 there we encountered 2 cars, and last year there were none.

After the climb and a nice descent you have to join the ‘new’ road to Sault, so there are a few cars, but there is also a shoulder. After a mile on this perfectly safe main road we turn left and climb the steep hill up to the village. Sault is the coffee stop, on the veranda of cafĂ© with a magnificent view of Mont Ventoux.

From Sault, the road ascends up a long false flat through lavender fields. We were too early for them to be blooming in all their purple glory, but it was still beautiful. When we get to the end of the climb far above the valley where the main road is, the view is simply stupendous. From here much of the ride is downhill, and sometimes downwind along the river. When we see the sign for Mollans we are back on roads we know well and are almost home.

False Flat Above Sault Through Lavender Fields

Gerry of 44|5 designed this ride. You can circumnavigate Mont Ventoux in many different ways, with the shortest being about 50 miles, and the longest as long as you want. I asked him for 100 km, and wow, did he deliver. I had done some of the roads before but the climb after Sault and back to Mollans was new to me, and well worth the extra 12 miles. When we did it in 2019 we were blessed with absolutely perfect weather. We finished in a state of euphoria. I could hardly stop smiling; it was an incredible day on the bike.

Somewhere Between Sault and Mollans: The North Side of Mont Ventoux

So that is what Steve and I were supposed to be doing today. Instead I spent the morning pruning shrubs. The ride not taken indeed.

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