- A timeless future
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The Mont-Ventoux climbed at the age of ten together with his sister Hélène.
The indelible memory of Arnaud Démare on a day when the wind on the mountain top engraved cycling in his heart.
It was August 2001. We were on vacation camping in Provence, at the foot of Mont Ventoux. We spent our days in the swimming pool, visiting picturesque villages, at local markets and above all riding a bike, the Démare family’s favorite toy. One day my mother told my sister and me: “Today we will climb the Mont Ventoux and we will see the ladies racing the Tour de France pass by”. It was the women's edition of the Tour, of course. Dad, along with some cyclist relatives, had left early that morning while Mom had planned the ascent from the village of Sault, an easier side.
My sister Hélène and I will always remember the rule of that day: we had to take a break every thirty minutes to eat a snack and avoid hypoglycemia. It was a great strategy, as we were able to face all those climbing hours without any trouble and we just enjoyed a beautiful day on the bike.
This photo shows my sister, my mom and me during one of those breaks. I was wearing my club uniform at the time - CCFormerie - and our mountain bikes are also back there.
I don't recall if, when we took this pic, we had already passed the Tom Simpson stele, but I remember pretty well that I was impressed by the fact that a rider had died on a bicycle. There were so many water bottles, t-shirts, and other objects that people had left there out of affection.
On the summit the wind was blowing, and we waited for the riders to pass, while some people approached and asked us: “Did you really come up here by bike? How old are you?"
We were so proud of our achievement. I was looking into the astonished eyes of those people and realized how incredible it was that a ten year-old boy had climbed Mont Ventoux.
When the racing athletes came, my mother started encouraging and cheering some of them, but I didn't know their names. I watched them reach the top so tired and then throw themselves down the descent and fight for the victory. Nothing to do with my climbing and all the breaks we had taken.
Our parents were confident that my sister and I knew how to ride our bikes, so the descent was fantastic. That evening we went back to the campsite overlooking the lavender fields, impatient and happy to tell Dad everything.