Books Featured Reviews


VentouxBert Wagendorp’s Ventoux, recently translated by Paul Vincent, is a coming of age novel that opens with an old photograph of six friends on a cycling holiday in1982 and develops slowly into an odd, but enjoyable, brew of mystery, sport and social history genres. The novel, which at first glance seems a speed-read holiday book, has more depth than that and takes in the nature of friendship, musings on the nature of time, the small choices we make that can change our lives and a floating brothel.


Wagendorp is shameless in employing the well worn trope of childhood friends who share a dark secret and reunite later in life to reconcile with their past. If that sounds like a cycling version of ‘lets get the band back together’ then here is the line up:


Our hero and narrator, Bart – crime journalist, cyclist, divorced and nearly fifty

Andre – gone off the rails, drug dealer, getting his life back in shape after prison

Joost – maths genius turned rockstar scientist, but heading for a fall

David – the ‘stay at home’ owner of his father’s travel agency in their hometown of Zutphen

Peter – ethereal, gifted poet and published by the time he’s 18


The Yoko of this story is siren and muse, Laura. Her sudden appearance among the teenage friends triggers the competition and jealousy that ultimately leads to the tragic event that forms the hub of the story.


The re-emergence of Laura in 2012 and the renewed connections between the characters develop in a fractured timeline that suits the slow reveal of the ‘event’. The conclusion of these renewed relationships drives them all to make a return journey to mark the 30th anniversary.


Despite the non-linear structure and the rich references this is a page-turner that is very funny, and often very touching. The Epilogue, which feels a little of an after-thought, is pure Edam but we can forgive that as the rest of the book is such a fun ride.


The book is heavy with musical, literary and artistic allusions and connections – from Proust and the Col de Madeleine to Petrarch’s ‘The Accent of Mount Ventoux’ to the film The Night Porter and Italian Cinema in general. That’s all before we get to the liberal references to the history of cycling, the poems of Jan Kal, The Rider by Tim Krabbe and, of course, Tommy Simpson.


As co-founder and editor of the cycling magazine The Wall, Bert Wagendorp obviously knows his cycling. The book was a bestseller in Wagendorp’s native Netherlands as well as Germany, France, Denmark and Norway. A Dutch version of Ventoux was filmed in 2015.


Ventoux by Bert Wagendorp / Paul Vincent is published by World Editions International, currently available from, amongst other places, Amazon at £10.68 hardback and £ £6.53 on Kindle.




The Raid Ventoux – September 4-6, 2015

The Raid VentouxThe Raid Ventoux was launched in January 2015 by the team who founded Just Pedal to provide organisation and access to some of the most iconic road cycling challenges in the world.


For 2015 that means trips to Alpe D’Huez, the Stelvio Pass and the legendary Mont Ventoux. The Raid reckons Mont Ventoux is ‘probably the most iconic climb in cycling. Respected and feared by some of the best cyclists in the world and on the ‘must do’ list of every amateur cycling fan.’ Nearly £700 for a long weekend is not cheap but looking at the ‘What’s Included’ list suggests a value for money trip of a lifetime. Here’s that list:


  • Fully supported ride of Mont Ventoux with routes for one, two or three ascents in a day
  • Offical ‘Cingle de Ventoux’ Carnet and entry into the ‘club cingle de Ventoux’ for all who complete three ascents
  • Exclusive Raid Ventoux Jersey
  • Two nights’ 3-star Hotel accommodation (Twin Share, Breakfast Included)
  • Transfer to/from Marseilles Airport or Avignon train station (flight/train not included)
  • Return luggage and bike transfer from the UK
  • Support from The Raid Ventoux expert domestiques, support drivers and mechanics. All first aid trained
  • Detailed stage info, maps, GPS data, and route profiles
  • All on-ride snacks and energy products
  • Trip photographer and full set of photos for all riders


Full details of the Raid Ventoux at

Featured News

Conquering Mont Ventoux on a Boris Bike

Mont Ventoux Mont Ventoux is a challenge that strikes fear into even the most seasoned of Tour de France riders – stark, wind-swept (as the name implies) and with a breath-sapping summit finish. It is the stuff of legends to pro and amateur riders alike. But none of that has stopped Rob Holden from hiring a ‘Boris bike’ and cycling the 22kg, three-speed bike to the top. Rob, aided by friends Matthew Winstone, and Ian Laurie, hired the bike from a docking station in Southwark, south London, loaded it into a van and drove, via the Eurotunnel, to the Alps. The 22km climb of the ‘Giant of Provence’ was recorded for posterity – you can see the resulting ‘Boris vs Ventoux The Film’ below – and the team returned the bike to London with only moments to spare before the 24-hour rental cut-off.


Mont Ventoux has been a stage finish for the TdF on nine occasions – most recently this year, when Team Sky’s Chris Froome claimed victory – and the race has crossed the summit on six other editions. The climb tragically and controversially claimed the life of British cyclist Tommy Simpson during the 1967 race.


Rob Holden’s epic Ventoux challenge had set out to raise £2,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support but, to date, has raised almost £7,500. Please help add to the fund at