Posted by: rustymccain | June 17, 2011

Ventoux, Deux

For those who keep up with the Tour de France, you probably know about Mont Ventoux. It is called the Giant of Provence and is the site of many great tour moments. It is feared as a climb because it is 13 miles straight up. Ray and I have had the opportunity to ride Ventoux so we have an idea of how tough it is. As we studied today’s route, we decided to compare the climb we have to Ventoux. The climb we had today looked longer. Also, while the elevation gains were equivalent, Ventoux tops out at about 6200 feet while our climb topped out at over 10,000 feet. Not much oxygen there. We both cried ourselves to sleep.

We started out the morning with coffee and power bars and our morning motivational talks with our wives. We left town and within ¼ mile we saw a sign that said, “Next 15 miles, 8% grade.” This delayed our ride as I had to go back to the motel and change out of the shorts I had just peed in. As we began the climb, we noticed that there was a 10K race going on and runners were streaming down the mountain. Most of the first three miles was spent cheering the 10K runners. That made us forget about the effort a bit and helped us get cranking.

Cedar Breaks National Monument, Utah

We spent the better part of the next three hours climbing. The weather was cold and gray, but there was no wind, so the climb was comfortable. We had heard that the road we were to turn onto near the top of the climb had not been opened yet due to the high snow pack. We didn’t want to do the detour as it was 11 miles longer. As luck would have it, the road was opened for the first time today. As we made our turn, we ran into Phil again. We had seen the rest of the guys earlier on the mountain. Phil told us that we had at least 4 more miles of climbing. Yippee.

Ray and Gene

We started our climbing again and then we saw a truck with a flat tire. I wanted to help, but knew we had a lot more riding to do. I thought I would ask Ray, hoping he felt the same way I did, but almost before I could finish my sentence, he started pulling over. There was never a question for him. We went over to the truck and found Gene, a new friend. Gene had a new truck and had been fighting with his spare. He didn’t know how to release it. Ray, who has owned about a zillion vehicles, knew exactly what to do and started doing it. He helped Gene release the spare while I watched for traffic. Then Ray and I grabbed the spare and put it on the truck to make sure Gene was good to go. With 3000 miles to go on our quest, and a lot of things to consider, it would have been easy for Ray move on. But he never had one thought except that he saw a chance to help someone and did it. And Gene seemed like the kind of guy that, if he has the chance, he will pass the good deed on. For those of you who don’t know Ray, this is the kind of guy with whom I have the opportunity to ride.

Near Cedar Breaks National Monument, Utah

We began to ride again and soon the snow was deep on both sides of the road, sometimes as high as 6-8 feet. The temperatures we rode in yesterday were approaching 100 degrees. At the top of the mountain today, it was close to 40 degrees. The climb finally ended at about 28 miles. We topped out at 10,614 feet after starting right at 6000 feet. We were rewarded by having an absolutely beautiful view of Cedar Breaks National Monument and a screaming downhill off the mountain. We kept losing altitude all the way into the town of Panguitch, Utah.

I had the opportunity today to see some beautiful country. We are at 891 miles and are both still hanging in there. Tomorrow is a tough 98 miler, but there is service along the way, so we’ll take it one mile at a time and see what adventure awaits!


  1. Totally awesome – love the stories and the pictures – praying that every day be blessed with making great rides, great friends, and great memories. Thanks for sharing your adventure!!

  2. Sounds like and epic day for you guys… What’s it like riding at 10K ft, do your lungs turn inside out looking for O2? VO2 Max redefined? You guys are awesome. Be safe and keep the great commentary coming. The Huntsville Team Wannabe peloton are following your adventure.

  3. You are amazing! Be safe!

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