Conquering Ventoux:

A Cycling Tour for Women

and Couples*

*(partners, friends, FAMILY and/OR other two-wheeled buddies)

type of tour: bespoke road cycling holiday with well-appointed accommodations and memorable meals.

best bike: road bike with at least 25c tires. rentals available.

Start: Bédoin End: Bédoin

5 DAYS/6 NIGHTS – FULLY SUPPORTED 4000€ Deposit of 500€ Single Supplement 500€ LIMITED SPACE

(April 20-25, 2020 ** October 19-24, 2020 and *Custom Dates with a minimum of 2 riders. Additional tariff may apply)

 
 
The Capra Velo Team: Nicole & Scott Davison all smiles on the summit of Ventoux.

The Capra Velo Team: Nicole & Scott Davison all smiles on the summit of Ventoux.

tell me more!

If mountains make legends of men, what will they make of you? Nicole and Scott Davison, the founders of Capra Velo (and best cycling buddies) invite you to conquer one of the most famous mountains of all…the mythical Mont Ventoux. The iconic cone shape dominates the unique landscape of Provence, casting a long shadow over the vineyards and olive groves. It has made a name for itself as being a monster of a climb. It is the stuff of cycling legend. The Tour de France has been won and lost on Ventoux’s shoulders and every cyclist who battles up its hallowed slopes and sees the world from her summit, comes away with a story to tell. What will your story be?

Why a Women’s and Couple’s Tour? Nicole, co-owner of Capra Velo and author of “Under The French Blue Sky: Diary of a Grand Tour” wrote a chapter about climbing the infamous mountain solo. She says: “I remember the day fondly but also remember how much I wished Scott were there to share the experience of that special first ascent with me.” So after quite a bit of consideration and deliberation on offering a women’s only trip, Nicole thought about all the wonderful memories she made with her favorite cycling partner and decided it would be a shame to exclude other best riding buddies (no matter their gender). We believe that riding with your best friend, spouse, partner, cherished family member or any other special human in your life might be the secret to a truly great bike ride. No pressure, no competition, no stress…just making and sharing two-wheeled memories. Solo ladies welcome of course!

 
A classic vineyard road in the South of France.

A classic vineyard road in the South of France.

the details

Conquering Ventoux means climbing all three sides! Not in one day…though it can be done and you get to join a prestigious group of cyclists called the Club des Cinglés, aka the “Crackpots club”. Well, we’re going to be a little wiser than those fellows and actually enjoy ourselves by tackling one ascent per day, plus two other scenic rolling routes for good measure. We’ll start by climbing the classic route to the summit, from the village of Bédoin and through the lovely vines and fruit groves. We’ll pedal through thick woods before the famous treeless moonscape appears. Don’t worry, at this point the hardest work is done. You’ll enjoy the sweeping views of Provence from what feels like the top of the world. We return the same way we went up, so you get to experience the thrill of the descent. You worked hard for it! Next, we’ll climb the “backside” of Ventoux. This route begins in Malaucène and offers some incredible views of the neighboring southern Alps and a bit of a different feel from the classic side. We’ll descend again via the Bédoin route, and since you’ll already have ridden this way, you’ll get the chance to work on your descending skills or better your time from the day before. Or, if you prefer to take it easy downhill, you’ll have the satisfaction of already knowing the way…so you can spend more time checking out the scenery. The third climb up Ventoux is via the village of Sault. There will be a small mountain on the way there to warm up your legs, then the challenge begins. After the summit, we’ll descend via the Malaucène side of Ventoux before returning to Bédoin. Two other rides will take us on a less challenging, but highly scenic tour of this very special region. The Gorges de la Nesque is a breathtaking, rolling ride with dramatic views and rock tunnels. Finally, we’ll spin through the AOC appellation vines of Ventoux, where some of the best red and rosé wines are born.  

 
A gorgeous ribbon of road near Mont Ventoux.

A gorgeous ribbon of road near Mont Ventoux.

the riding

Climbing all three sides of Ventoux by bicycle is no easy feat and pedaling uphill can leave little time to stop and smell the rosemary. The forest surrounding Ventoux is a very special UNESCO biosphere reserve. It is home to more than 1,200 species of organisms, some found nowhere else in the world. It’s difficult to see the details of this especially beautiful environment unless you take the time to slow down. We encourage all of our guests to do just that. If you want to pull to the side of the road to snap a photograph, take a breather or simply stop to take in the view…we think that’s a great way to ride. If you want to set personal goals or scald a blazing path to the summit…we’ve got your back. You decide how you want to pedal and we’ll support you. This is your tour and your two-wheeled memories to make. No one will be dropped. No one will be left behind. You do not have to be race-fit to meet this challenge. You just have to be comfortable on your bike and have the proper fitness to spend several hours climbing at a pace you find sustainable. Please have some experience navigating long and sometimes steep descents. There will be vehicular traffic on our routes. In general, drivers in France are courteous to cyclists and will respect your space. We encourage you to bring a rear light to help them see you clearly. It also helps to have some experience riding in a group. Pace line skills are not necessary but can be helpful during windy conditions. We will likely have at least one windy ride. Mont Ventoux and the Vaucluse can be affected by the infamous Mistral winds. Folklore says the Mistral can “blow the ears of a donkey”. We’re pretty sure all the donkeys still have their ears, but the wind at the summit certainly does have the power to knock you off your feet! To ensure the absolute safety of all our guests, we will ride an alternate route during significant weather events.  

 
Iconic rock arch in the Gorges de la Nesque.

Iconic rock arch in the Gorges de la Nesque.

the routes

Daily rides will range from 40 to 60 miles (64km – 100km) with between 5,000 – 7,500 feet of climbing (1,500m – 2,200m). We will provide all riders with a detailed road book at the start of the trip. You do not need to worry about navigation, your guide will take care of that. You will absolutely have the opportunity to ride ahead if you feel like pushing on the pedals. That said, if you prefer to have the route on your personal GPS, we’re happy to provide it for upload. The tour will look a little something like the example below (give or take if the day’s ride needs adjusting due to wind or inclement weather). We have many other routes available for substitution. Don’t discount the “shorter” days. The climbing more than makes up for the lack of kilometers. Distances are approximate and can be adjusted depending on the desire and fitness level of the group:

Day 1 Classic Ventoux Climb from Bédoin Climbing: 1981m/6500ft Distance: 72km/45mi
Day 2 Ventoux Climb from Malaucene Climbing: 1829m/6000ft Distance: 64km/40mi
Day 3 Ventoux Climb from Sault Climbing: 2195m/7200ft Distance: 89km/55mi
Day 4 Gorges de la Nesque Climbing: 1524m/5000ft Distance: 100km/60mi
Day 5 Hilltop villages & Ventoux vineyards Climbing: 1524m/5000ft Distance: 89km/55mi

 
Enjoying the scent of pines and wild rosemary in Provence.

Enjoying the scent of pines and wild rosemary in Provence.

arrival and departure

International flights to Paris or Bordeaux are widely available. You can take the high-speed TGV from Paris or the SNCF from Bordeaux. Otherwise, affordable European commuter airlines like Air France, EasyJet and Ryanair typically fly into Montpellier (or other larger cities in the South of France). From there, take a train to Avignon and we can arrange to pick you up. Rental car services are available for one-way travel if you prefer not to take a train. The roads into Bédoin are easily navigable and very well marked.  Contact us if you need any assistance making travel plans.


 
A crisp, cool glass of local rosé with a seasonal Provençal meal.

A crisp, cool glass of local rosé with a seasonal Provençal meal.

what’s included?

Why should you pay us and not that other tour company? Because we live and work in France year-round. We know Ventoux and the Vaucluse well and we love to appreciate the great local food and wine of the region. We know how to balance an enjoyable day on the bike with a bona-fide challenge. Most importantly, we know how to have fun. We are cyclists who think a great ride should be shared. We love bikes and love to ride them in some pretty amazing places, just like you. We are more interested in providing our guests with a personalized experience instead of just filling tours. Four riders is all we need for a group tour. Private tours available for two or more (send us an email for details). We provide experienced guides who love to help guests conquer mountains, an expert mechanic with a great sense of humor and the patience of a saint and a fully-stocked sag wagon. We also include ground transfers, accommodations the night before your tour, memorable meals (because food is a big part of why we ride), a custom jersey, 2 custom bottles, a custom canvas goodie bag or tour poster and portable cycling nutrition that actually tastes good. We’ll stay in a beautiful, tranquil hotel. A buffet breakfast will be available every morning, thoughtfully prepared by our hotel hosts, often including homemade jams, etc.  French breakfasts consist of croissants, butter and honey, charcuterie and cheese; with juice, coffee and some granola or cereal and NOT bacon and eggs, pancakes and waffles or even gluten-free toast. We’re happy to help supplement your morning meal if you need something extra. In the evenings, expect 3-course dinners including wine. We typically prepare healthy,  picnic-style lunches on the road highlighting local flavors. There will be cheese. There will be pastries and chocolate. Don’t worry, if you can’t eat these things, we will accommodate your specific needs. If we enjoy a lunch stop at one of our favorite local restaurants, we’ll make sure they can accommodate any dietary restrictions or desires.

 
The sun sets over an AOC Ventoux vineyard.

The sun sets over an AOC Ventoux vineyard.

i really need my beauty sleep!

Everyone does, even the most accomplished climber. A good night’s rest is essential for recovery; physical, mental and emotional. Remember, rooms will be shared with your partner. If you are traveling solo, we’ll try to match you with a compatible roommate but if you’re squeamish about a stranger seeing you in your pajamas, you can request a single room for a 300€ supplement. Hotels are TBD depending on the season and availability but we promise it will be a well-appointed luxury property with modern bathrooms , clean sheets and WiFi to upload all your gorgeous cycling photos. We’ll chose a place that won’t mind you sleeping with your bike in the room or going to breakfast in your bibs. For summer tours, there will be a pool! We’ll send you the name of the hotel a few weeks before the tour so you can check it out online and get directions for arrival. We will stay in the same property for the whole tour. You can unpack your suitcase, relax and not worry about transfers.

 
Market day in Bédoin!

Market day in Bédoin!

anything else?

When we aren’t on tour, we operate a neat little bike shop which means we can usually handle any last minute cycling emergencies. We sell socks, tubes and other helpful items if you forget those. Bicycle rentals are available. We rent high-end, carbon disc road bikes by Parlee with Ultegra. We recommend you consider bringing your own saddle. Want to bring your own bike too? Easy! You provide the Bike Flights label and we will unbox it/assemble it before your tour then disassemble and re-box it after your tour for 150€. Want to bring it on the plane? We’ll assemble and disassemble for 75€. Proof of health/accident insurance required. Travel insurance highly recommended. Can non-riding guests come along? They are absolutely welcome! They can join us at the hotel after our ride each day. We’ll provide a non-cycling guest supplement if they want to share your room (but not your meals…they get their own). We can also help plan off-the-bike activities. While you’re out conquering climbs, they can be enjoying life in Provence. There’s hiking, sightseeing, shopping, people watching, amazing restaurants, vineyards, hilltop villages…we could go on and on. If we haven’t listed it here, don’t hesitate to ask us about it. We’re always available by email, instant message or by phone.

We speak French and English. Ok, enough already. Let’s go climb some mountains, shall we?