Lead Review

  • Book: Ventoux
  • Location: Vaucluse, Zutphen
  • Author: Bert Wagendorp

Review Author: tripfiction



1982. Six friends – 5 boys and 1 girl – cycle up legendary Mont Ventoux. Only 5 come back. Now, years later, the 5 are much older, much wiser (maybe not), at a time in their lives when they need to look back; a time to reflect and lay some ghosts to rest. And also to heel the divisions as a group.

We know Laura and Bart must have been in a relationship back then as Joost makes a speech at Bart’s wedding (to Hinke) about how Laura was his true love. Toe curling and well told! That inevitably sowed quite some discord amongst the friends, especially as most of them seemed to have a soft spot for her. We also see how Peter the poet comes to join the group. His family boat, Sweet Lady Jane, moored near the group’s school and gradually he became a member. His poetry and the fact his boat doubled as a brothel certainly gave him kudos amongst his teenage peers.

This is a story of friendship and cycling, with plenty of banter and elements of humour and sadness, sometimes set against the backdrop of professional bicycle road races. I would imagine that if you are a keen cyclist, you would very much enjoy this book. I certainly learned new things as the characters both then and now and prepare once again to take their bikes up Mont Ventoux. The epic road ride from Bédoin up Mont Ventoux stretches 21km, has an ascension of 1,580M and this is the trip the group took then and followed up one again in the present. It also features in the Tour de France.

There is plenty of literary wanderlust both around Zutphen and the Mont Ventoux area – Chalet Reynard, for example, is a stopping place for the characters.

A nice read, something a little bit different.

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