CS Grupetto

We are a little bit different to most clubs in that we\'re primarily a group of friends who socialise off the bike, but we happen to share a common interest in cycling and cyclesport. We are based in Putney and have regular weekend rides out to Windsor and the Surrey Hills, as well as occasional trips elsewhere.

We have a wide variety of cycling interests amongst club members, from track riding to road racing, and sportives to bike polo. Several of our members have their race licences, and we\'re represented in every category including Elite

We regularly travel further afield to enjoy some of the classic races – this year quite a few of us have ridden the Tour of Flanders and Paris Roubaix sportives, and then watched the pros follow our tyre tracks. We also try and get to see the Ghent and Berlin six day track events.

At the core of the club ethos is a desire to enjoy good rides with good friends.



Nic on Ventoux

I went to Mont Ventoux today.

We were staying in Vinsobres, so myself and a riding companion called Billy set off to Malaucene around 10am. It was about 15 miles but we took it very gently. There we met up with another friend who was staying in Vaison, had a quick coffee then started the ascent.

I found it fairly easy going for the first 6km, I got into a good rhythm and was feeling in good shape. This didn’t last however, as the middle section of the climb is a grinding 12-14% for about 4km. I was regretting my decision not to fit a compact chainset! It was hard going but it did relent eventually and even rewards you with a gentle 5% section which certainly relaxed the legs before the final onslaught.

Climbing from this side the you don’t see much of the lunar landscape until you hit the last 2k. As you ascend the temperature drops steadily until it was actually cold. I was working hard enough to not feel it until I stopped, but it was bloody freezing up there with harsh gusting winds.

I made it up the 21k in 1 hour 39 mins which I was pretty pleased with. The other guys I rode with took a but longer so I had a good rest in the cafe which I had retreated to while they caught up. We had some lunch (steak sandwich, nice) then descended to Bedoin (but not without stopping to place a Grupetto and cap bottle at the Tommy Simpson memorial).

The wind had ramped up during the morning and made the descent pretty hairy – to the point where I felt I was going to be blown over at one particular moment. It was not fun for the first 5k – it was gusting so you couldn’t predict when it would hit. It turned a fantastic descent into a self-preservation exercise!

The wind lessened as we lost altitude and the temperature steadily rose. It was a beautiful summers day when we arrived in Bedoin. During lunch I had made my mind up to turn round and climb Ventoux again from the Bedoin side. I bought some gels and bars in case I bonked and set off back up. It’s a nice gentle start to the climb for a good few kilometers. However once it raps up to 9%, it sits there for a long, long time. Here I started to struggle a bit physically as my lower back started to ache painfully (probably due to my lack of core strength).

Halfway up the 22k climb seemed a big psychological point for me, and as I approached Chalet Reynard (16k up) I shoved down an energy gel to help boost me up to the top.

Unfortunately I hadn’t bargained on the wind which was even worse than it had been on the descent. When it gusted directly into me (which happened frequently) I pretty much stopped pedalling as it was just wasted effort – a few seconds later I could continue on. Up near the top the temperature was dropping quite fast – but again as I was working pretty hard it was ok as long as I didn’t stop.

As I approached the summit, a rider stopped on the corner of the final bend. I didn’t take much notice of him until a gust of wind literally blew him and his bike up and over into the road. He was a bit shaken but fine, however it demonstrated the power of the wind up there.
This side took me longer – 1 hour 50 mins. I stopped briefly at the summit before an awesome descent back down to Malaucene. It took 30 mins, with an average of 28mph, and I managed to hit 50mph at one point. Not too technical, with wide open roads, hardly any traffic and amazing scenery. I sported a huge smile all the way down!

I celebrated with a quick Grimbergen in Malaucene before trudging back to our Gite in Vinsobre into a block headwind. Not the most fun end to the day but I arrived back just as dinner was being served!

As far as my cycling experiences go it was tough but rewarding. I will go back soon and do all three sides in a day (to join the Club de Cingles) – I feel like could have managed it this time, however the weather conditions and time were against me. Something to aim for in the future!

 Ventoux certainly is worthy opponent.