Kit and caboodle

By Michael Stenning | Wednesday, January 23, 2008 2.34pm

Early October is the best time to attempt Ventoux, the heat lacks the summer ferocity and I'm led to believe the roads are less travelled during this time. So why then am I going at the fag end of August? Well, it fits in just nicely with school term times and work/related commitments - otherwise I'd have to leave it until the end of October which presents considerable complication.

I'm toying with the idea of flying the family out and getting them settled in a nice guest house/hotel whilst making my own way by road. The upside being I can circumnavigate any industrial action by air staff, damage to the bike in transit and take kit and creature comforts without fear of excess baggage penalties.

Secondly, the family are spared a long road journey which isn't conducive to domestic harmony and can opt for something "more interesting than watching daddy ride a bicycle up a mountain."

The only problem being I've never driven on the continent. Well, that's not exactly true but Ley has not entrusted me with a hire car since I accidentally engaged reverse instead of first on a Portuguese clifftop on our first holiday together!

Sentiment aside, I've decided on the "easy" route - east from Sault which should give me a sporting chance. Further research convinces me in favour of a wheelset laced radially at the front and two-cross at the rear and to drop the gearing to around thirty inches, theoretically reducing the threat of muscle fatigue. Jury's still out on the hydration pack versus 1.5 litre Pet cage decision. Bar bags might go against the grain for some but it will allow me easy access to additional clothing, energy bars and my compact camera.

On one last sentimental note, I would love mark the occasion by make the journey to Sault in a Peugeot 504 estate. The one time Tour cars, renown for their comfort and mile eating prowess are now rare but if anyone has a reliable example they'd be prepared to lend/hire I'd be delighted to hear from them. I'd be especially pleased to hear from anyone owning GWC 69T (owned by my father between 1979 and October 1983- a contact at the DVLA advised it was still alive a few years back).  

Being a mountain, the climate can be very changeable so I shall be taking a good spread of clothing including base layers, buffs/caps, tights, long and short sleeved jerseys, fluorescent micro wind/rain jacket, several pairs of shorts, two pairs of shoes, overshoes and gloves just in case. This of course is in addition to a turbo trainer for warm-ups, folding work stand for last minute fettling/preparation and the main workshop tools and a few spares.

Long, playful sessions on the crosser have helped considerably, not only in terms of variety but the knobblies offer a healthy bit of extra resistance. Throwing a leg over "Izzie" my Il Pompino with its 26mm road rubber has seen a marked improvement in my climbing prowess, even taking into account the fixer's greater weight (courtesy of steel fork, 4130 carrier, single pannier/bar bag and lead acid lighting system).

Churning up the big climbs in the wee small hours has given me time to consider the offer of companionship from one reader. By nature I'm a very shy person but  given the remote location, it would be a wise move to have someone with me. So assuming you still want to pit yourself against the mountain and are prepared to share the driving/fuel costs then in principle you have yourself a deal.

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