The Club Des Cinglés Du Ventoux – which translates as the club of idiots on the windy mountain – was set up in 1988 to recognise the cyclists who would tackle the three roads on Mont Ventoux in a 24-hour period, that is the ascents starting from Bêdoin, Malaucène and Sault.
The three ascents total 85 miles of cycling and 14,435ft of height gain, but for those who need more there is also the Bicinglés Challenge (six ascents – two from each village) and the Galérians Challenge (one ascent from each village and one on the Route Forestière – the off-road mountain bike route to the top).
Those who complete the challenge are forever honoured as a “graduate” of the Club Des Cinglés and receive a medal and their name listed on the club website.
Interestingly, the club website details that only 2343 people from Scotland (213 men and 21 women) have completed the challenge out of 16,007.
Each year I find myself working in Provence supporting dozens of riders to tackle the Cinglés Challenge, but this year circumstances have, so far, led to a halt of these trips.
So I came up with my own multi-ascent challenge which resulted in myself, my wife and my two kids tackling the three road ascents of Schiehallion in Highland Perthshire; and so the Amadan Challenge was born.
Amadan in Scottish Gaelic translates to loony, and I thought it a fitting title for this smaller, but still challenging sister to the Cinglés Challenge.
We parked our van at the meeting of the three roads by Loch Kinardochy and in view of the summit of Schiehallion and then rode down to the start of our first ascent at Coshieville.
I was taking a risk here as I feel this is the hardest ascent and it may have prompted an early rebellion from my kids.
However, I guessed that getting the hardest ascent out of the way first would be better for morale than leaving it until last.
It worked, and despite a few grumbles we gradually made our way to the top. We refilled our water bottles and then made our way north-west, undulating for a few miles before we dropped down to Kinloch Rannoch. I had promised my kids an ice cream from the shop down there and that seemed to keep them motivated.
This ascent has a steep hairpin bend early on, but a stop just beyond it allowed us to catch our breath and let my kids rest their legs for a moment. As we reached the undulations near the top a westerly tail wind gave us a much-needed push along towards our van.
All that was left was the final ascent from Tummel Bridge. Just like the ascent on Ventoux from Sault this climb is a lesser gradient than the other two and is therefore an ideal one to leave until last. By this point my daughter was visibly tiring, so we stopped for sandwiches and hot Vimto from our supplies in the van before tackling this last climb.
It gave us just enough of a boost to grind our way upwards to the top and complete our mission.
I am still hoping to make my way to Provence in September to support more riders make their way up Ventoux three times, but if circumstances prevent me from doing so I will at least have completed my challenge. I’m even considering going back and doing it again and finishing with a mountain bike ride to the actual summit.