13/7/10: I started the day by descending into Sault to buy some breakfast. I filled up my waterbottles and also forced as much water down myself as I could before setting off up Mt.Ventoux. I knew that there would be no water available until the top&Ventoux is famous for being exposed to the sun for a good part of it. 2hrs 11 mins later I found myself at the top, the journey up was made easier by the fact there was a running competition going on to the top-every time I felt tired I had to feel for the runners! I paused only once on the way up to see Tommy Simpsons' grave-a famous British cyclist who died about 1km from the summit during a stage of The Tour de France in the 80's, he was heavily dosed up on amphetamines at the time which didn't help. Luckily I was dosed up on Croissant so made it to the top. I enjoyed an amazing 13 mile descent from the top down to almost sea level. I clocked 55.6 mph at one stage so have finally cracked the 50mph target. Next up, 60mph.....only joking Mum! I stopped at another odd bike shop at the bottom which only appeared to sell custom built road bikes above £5,000-very nice but a bit of a niche market! I was hit by the heat when I got down from the mountain, a temperature gauge I saw was on 39 C. I have never been great with coping with heat so drank as much water as I could and carried on to a town called Orange. By 4pm it had reached oven like temperatures and the roads were melting like butter. I stopped in an air conditioned bar and watched the Tour on TV. By the time it had all finished it was about 5.30pm and the temperature was ok. I carried on to a town called Saint-Martin D'Ardeche which is, as the name suggests, at the southern end of the Ardeche. I arrived at my selected campsite at 4.50pm to find reception had closed 10 mins early and they wouldn't let me camp and pay the next morning. I pointed out they had closed early, but was given the gallic shrug. I headed to another campsite which turned out to be cheaper anyway. I enjoyed watching the final of their 'Petanque' championship. When I arrived my neighbouring campers lent me their mallet to hammer my pegs into the dry ground. They also brought me several cups of ice cold water-now that is 2 star camping! I must have looked like a dying man for them to have kept on bringing me so much water. I then spent most of the evening sweating before the temperature dropped to a bearable level to go to sleep. Mileage today was 76.76miles.
14/7/10: Woke up in the immense heat again-unbearably hot! I noticed a few people sleep outside their tents, maybe I will follow suit tonight. I cycle up the Ardeche North West as far as the Pont D'Arc. I stopped here for a swim and soon found the cool water and decent wind in the gorge made me feel the need to stay for about 2hours! It was so nice to escape the heat. I then headed South West down to Ales in the afternoon. I knocked on somebody's door for water and a very kind woman invited me in where she was watching The Tour on TV. She filled my bottles with ice which was great, and gave me a glass of cold water too. I stopped in a bar at about 5pm to watch the tour de france finish in Gap. They were doing the exact same route I did only a few days ago so it was fascinating to recognise the same roads they were on, I even spotted the house I stopped at for water where the man had told me where he would watch the tour! I finished the day rather late and was starving by the time I arrived in Ales. Unfortunately with it being Bastille day most shops were closed. Luckily there was a certain chain of fine cuisine restaurant by the side of the road starting with a Mc... sound, so I was able to induldge in some 'mal bouffe' in the form of a large portion of chips. I got to the campsite at about 8pm just outside Ales in a village called Cendras. I cooked dinner and got talking to the family next door who had a son and daughter my age. I soon found myself sitting with them with a glass whisky chatting away until late about everything from car insurance to the nudist town near Carcasonne! (Alex take note.) They were actually Belgian and were really friendly and interesting. They even invited me for breakfast with them the next morning as it was the mother's birthday. I am a bit ahead of shedule and have 3 days to get to Carcasonne so have decided to press on tomorrow and hopefully have a rest day by the sea. Milegae today was 65.91 miles.
15/7/10: Not a great nights sleep thanks to the French in the campsite celebrating Bastille day until 3am. Mind you, I am in their country! I enjoyed breaksfast with this Belgian family, it was a shame to say goodbye to them as they had really taken me under their wing over the last 18 hours. They sent me on my way with their contact details should I ever want to visit Belgium and also a couple of chocolate croissants for the road. The sky was cloudy so it wasn't too hot. I decided today was going to be a big one and set my sights on a town called Agdes, a town right on the coast of the Med' . I headed through various villages on a hilly but not moutainous route, the landscape has changed completely now and it looks very much like Greece. The heat began to rise, and I was told 36 C by a man who topped me up with water. I barely stopped for lunch and soon hit a flatter region with fantastic tarmac, so was soon pounding along, munching the miles. I stopped for more water and a very deaf old man invited me into his house. No sooner had I entered before he was offering me ice cold coke and anything to eat from his fridge! It turns out he was a keen cyclist 'back in the day' and was very interested in my trip. He offered me a 2L bottle of coke for the road, but I declined as I thought this was too much to take from him. He got out his map of France and got me to show him my route, and he made useful suggestions of where to go next. He spoke good English too as he had lived in the USA for 5 years. I had to press on so set off again. I really managed to clock some miles over the next hour as the wind was behind me and the route was slightly down hill. The next house I stopped at was again a fascinating experience! The man who opened the door this time immediatly took me to the garage to fetch some water from his fridge and also gave me a can of lemonade. I couldn't fathom where his accent was from, it was not a southern accent but sounded similiar with words like 'quinze' It turned out this man was Spanish, and lived in France. He showed me his shed which contained a little shrine to Spain! He then proceded to tell me all about his son who does road racing to what sounded like quite a high level. We discussed how well Spain were doing with Nadal in tennis, winning the world cup and Alberto Contador a strong chance for Le Tour-he liked this a lot! I set off again for the final 10 miles into Agdes. I played the 'Garmin lucky dip' again to find a B&B. I had cycled 89 miles, so some pampering was justified. However, I was set on reaching 90 miles so did a quick lap of town to take the total to 90.10 miles. I ate in their restaurant which overlooked the river where there was a full sized orchestra playing on a floating island in the middle. It is the 1st time I have done the 'eating alone in a restaurant' I felt a bit lonely and did wish I could have had someone with me for the whole trip. Still, Alex arrives on the 18th which will be good!