I like to make plans and whilst way this summer in France and Switzerland I mapped out my holidays for the next few years. One plan stood out and that was for the summer of 2018 when I plan to ascend the Mont Ventoux.
There is no real reason why I have picked then but since I have things have fallen in to place. My weight loss this year has seen me lose 2 stone of the 5 stone I want to lose. With no firm date of when to lose it by I now have one, before hitting the slopes out of Bedoin.
A conversation on the Col de la Madeleine this summer with a fellow Warwickshire dweller was also quite revealing. As a lifelong cyclist he told me that any climbs I wanted to attempt should be done before I hit 50, as from then on it just becomes too hard. So being 43 for my first planned attempt fits in with that too.
Then there is cycling history element. 2018 will mark 20 years since my cycling idol, Marco Pantani, won the Tour de France. Okay he was a doper, I know that, but the romanticism around his stage wins will always evoke a warm feeling in me. It probably did in him too what with all that EPO rampaging through his arteries and veins. I loved the spirit which he represented though and no other cyclist has ever brought out those same feelings in me.
His most memorable wins are probably to Plateau de Beille and Les Deux Alpes from the 1998 Tour de France but my fondest memories are conversely from a different year. For me Marco Pantani will always be Mont Ventoux and that iconic eyeball to eyeball stage win in 2000 against Lance Armstrong. It was electrifying.
It has lived with me and I have wanted to experience Mont Ventoux ever since. In 2000 I was hardly in the shape to cycle and frankly was some way from returning to it but now I have the hunger and know I am capable of climbing mountains.
There is the Tom Simpson legacy too, what is it with me and dopers?! The history is with me and whilst many prefer Alpe d’Huez, which I will ride one day, the bleakness of the bald mountain just appeals far more.
So after a glass or two of Terre de Ventoux rose a plan has been finalised, great!