Sundays in Provence are like stepping back in time. Everything is shut tight while everyone is home cooking a big meal for family and friends. If you don’t have family here, it’s a pretty quiet day. However it’s good to know there truly is a day of rest in Provence, as in most of France. A day devoted to relaxing and being with loved ones.
For me, Sundays here can be a bit melancholy. As it happens, today is my birthday. I’ve been very lucky as of yet, I have not spent this day alone and have always had someone I love with me to share in it. Don’t get me wrong, I am not a big birthday person and I do not enjoy being the centre of attention. But it is nice to be treated and taken care of for a day. So on this particular Sunday I hatched a plan. It was time — yes time. Time to face the Ventoux from Bédoin.
I haven’t been to the top of Ventoux from Bédoin since the dreaded accident. Oh I’ve been to Chalet Reynard many times, and to the top from Sault. With or without my favourite person to ride with, I was going to suffer the most difficult climb of the Tour de France on my birthday. Then as a reward treat myself to a fabulous bottle of Domaine Hauvette and some truffle pasta. Not a bad way to spend a Sunday if you ask me.
So I did it, even with the Mistral howling. As I was approaching the mountain, seeing it in the distance, I started to get butterflies. This mountain even makes the pros nervous, so a little anxiety is to be expected. It’s a lovely, gentle climb out of Bédoin, but then you see it. That first hairpin turn at the restaurant, after that, you are committed. You’re in the shit, and it’s going to hurt like hell. I don’t know what happened, maybe it was this day, or maybe it was something else, but as hard as it was, I felt amazing. I was very pleased with my time and blew away any of my own expectations. But it is brutal. It’s a mountain where cycling legends are made. There is nothing harder, it’s a test of mettle, both mental and physical, and I think pushing yourself on your day of birth is a great way to feel alive.
Sometimes we just have to work with what we have, and sometimes we are alone. It’s just the way it is, so we need to take care of ourselves kindly and with love. Especially on birthdays…