Mike Simpson

Dont Mention the V Word

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CCC2013 Stage Eight

Vassieux en Vercors to Bedoin

206km with 4554m of climbing

There may not have been any elephants in the room but there certainly was one on today's profile. An averagely lumpy route but with one massive hurdle at the end......Mont Ventoux. Like the Zoncolan in the Dolomites, Ventoux has such a savage reputation that it's an ominous obstacle today. In fact Ventoux is no where near as hard as it is made out to be. As it is so exposed it's the weather that can turn it in to an ordeal, you can bake or freeze up there. However the weather is kind to us and we have a pleasant ride up there.

But firstly there is 160km to negotiate before we even get to the start of Ventoux. My knee is improving, thanks to a lot of attention from physio, god and miracle man James (I still think it's voodoo!).. Today I had my Psoas muscle stretched, I didn't even know I had a Psoas muscle! Google it, it's nowhere near my knee but seems to be the root of my current injury! Genius, I am so grateful to James. The bikes too are taking a battering, one now sporting an ingenious use of gaffer tape to solve a rear mech problem.

The day starts with a descent of what was my favourite climbs of 2009 the Col de Rousset, a stunning near 20km stretch of tarmac. In fact it's all stunning, the steep Col de Pennes is very pleasant as we enter the Drome region. At the final feed before Ventoux (where we have a great view of the summit) we are joined by a previous Cent Col rider Paul Outhwaite who is holidaying near by. His fresh legs easily bounce around the pack but certainly comes in handy as he paces me up the first 7km of Ventoux. As Tim Smith comes past I decide to test the knee and ride it at a decent lick. With two stages to go I can't risk going ballistic, the knee may not take it but it's good to be riding with Tim again, we've had some great battles over the last couple of years.

Another comedy hotel tonight, some even avoided dinner in preference to the local pizza joint. The wifi seemed to work only within a 2 metre radius of reception and an hour long Pictionnary game was carried out with a microphone and PA system for just 6 people, but all the other guests were subjected to its loud rambling. You've got to laugh, too tired to complain.

Click images to enlarge.