Thomas and Dean drove down from Walldorf on Friday and we met up in Bedoin on Saturday morning - nice temperature (23 C), some clouds, all in all perfect cycling weather.
A quick glance at the mountain did indicate a hat of clouds though, but nothing could stop us now.
First few kms were flat (5% flat), then the 10%s hit us...
Dean decided to find his own pace early and let Thomas and myself go ahead, smart chap Dean. As you can see from the video, everything was fine, 10km/h and smooth pedaling as Thomas and I chatted along.
Soon the chat petered out, then yours truly petered out... and suddenly we were all by ourselves. Not a bad idea, now that all focus was on breathing anyway.
Worst steepness passed, 6 kms left, fog. Wind. Cold fog. 10 degrees Celsius. Focus on leg survival.
Unperturbed, Thomas powered on while I was more into counting snow-drift-markers, slowly, slowly.
Until I heard voices up there somewhere to the right in the white nothingness and I knew I was home, on the top, energy back!
Thomas did the 1,614 vertical meters and 21 distance kms in 1:49 - extremely respectable that (Armstrong managed just over the hour)! I came in 15 minutes later, and Dean a chat and a quick change to warmer clothes later.
Dean and Thomas rolled the way down while I joined the broom wagon for a more civilised ascent.
Being smack in the middle of wine country we just had to do some on-the-farm shopping, and of course the local bike shop chap could tell us that there was a coop, but a Ferme St Pierre a few kms down the road had good! wine. And he was right of course - Paul Vendran himself pottered around and handed over glasses and bottles in a most unhurried manner :)
This will be repeated good folks, suspect we'll do it late spring - and we're open for suggestions - the wiki will remain open.
So no excuses that you're not "in shape", you have more than eight months to get there! And Hamish, no more amusement parks for you for awhile!