French Alps rides?

Questions about bike hire abroad and everything light bike related. No off-topic chat please

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dgasmd
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by dgasmd

StuTheWeak wrote:French Alps is for pussies. Try the Ozark Mountains...you have to peddle faster than the rednecks can shoot...else be sodomized.

Squeal piggy, squeal!


And then the rest of country wonders why the rest of the world think the way they do about americans? :thumbup:

by Weenie


airwise
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by airwise

To be fair, strictly speaking French Alpine passes are the easiest in Europe.

The stems from the work of an 18th century engineer, one P.M.J. Tresaguet whose building practices for road construction form the basis of nearly all routes in France. In particular, he recommended that no road exceed a gradient of 7%. Whilst a few passes creep slightly above that on average, there are scant few climbs in France that have sustained pitches of double digit gradient.

Many roads in Italy and Austria in particular are very different and vastly tougher for cyclists. A good quote I heard claimed that the easiest part of the West side of the Zoncolan was harder than the hardest part of any climb in Le Tour. I wouldn't argue.

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HammerTime2
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Location: Wherever there's a mountain beckoning to be climbed

by HammerTime2

airwise wrote: P.M.J. Tresaguet ... recommended that no road exceed a gradient of 7%.
The 7% gradient is the maximum grade which ox-drawn vehicles can reliably traverse.

That's why Mt. Hamilton (the road between San Jose and the top), which was built in the 2nd half of the 19th century for ox-drawn vehicles to transport observatory building materials, and which has been descended in the Tour of California, is limited to about 7%, although the backside (going to Livermore), which has been climbed in the Tour of California, is steeper, since by the time of construction, they perhaps didn't need to worry about that.

basilic
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by basilic

Right HT2. Most animal powered vehicles (that includes cyclists) will be reasonably comfortable at 7-8%, not so above 10%. Same goes for cars from the 1900-1950 era, and that is when many alpine passes were paved and roads finalized. Modern roads don't have that limitation.
But many alpine passes were originally mule paths (eg Gotthard pass from the 12-13th century) and a loaded mule can go much steeper. So often thereis an original mule path, often lost, overlaid with a horse drawn coach road, paved over because that worked for old time cars as well.

wetpaint
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by wetpaint

What is the weather like in the Alps in September? Still good riding?

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legs 11
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by legs 11

Weather in September is normally very nice. :)
Much less people as the holiday season on Continental Europe is August.
Hot, but not too crazy........cold at the top, but hey........ it's always cold at the top.
Pedalling Law Student.

sawyer
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by sawyer

ponka00 wrote:I'm going to France this summer with a couple of mates. We are staying in Bourg, despite the fact that it may seem gloom. It is in a great location and we will be riding all day anyway :noidea:

I have read up on all the climbs in the area, but what about the descents? After some tough climbing you have to give yourself a treat, no? :P

Are there any that stands out for you guys?


Mr Gib gives some good suggestions. Have a look at the routes for La Marmotte and La Vaujany cyclosportifs as they are in that area and cover most of the major climbs. There are also a few one-way climbs to ski resorts such as Les Deux Alpes. Another nice ride in the area, though no major climbs, is on the back road to La Bararde
----------------------------------------
Stiff, Light, Aero - Pick Three!! :thumbup:

wetpaint
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by wetpaint

legs 11 wrote:Weather in September is normally very nice. :)
Much less people as the holiday season on Continental Europe is August.
Hot, but not too crazy........cold at the top, but hey........ it's always cold at the top.

Awesome, I'm hoping to make it there for a couple weeks next September.

Dalai
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by Dalai

sawyer wrote:Another nice ride in the area, though no major climbs, is on the back road to La Bararde


That's on my list for my trip that is now just over 7 weeks away. 8) Also looking at riding Le col du Sabot after comments here and then checking out photos online.

pastronef
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by pastronef

after my Izoard + Col de Manse last friday (see report on page 4) I am bound to Col d'Agnel, Italian side, on thursday.
Just have to borrow an aluminium back wheel. the Izoard downhill was a bit too hard for my old carbon wheel and brake pads :doh:

Dalai
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by Dalai

Looking forward to your report pastronef... :thumbup:

pastronef
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by pastronef

actually it isn’t a French Alps ride, but I crossed the border to France by a few meters at the top. The road goes from the Valle Varaita to the Queyras, in the Hautes Alpes.

Col d’Agnel

I parked the car at Sampeyre (31 kms to the summit) and began to prepare.
I met two Dutch cyclists looking for a loop to go back towards Cuneo. I suggested the Colle di Sampeyre, 14 km, to reach the Maira valley from the Varaita valley.
Ok, ready, undershirt on, arm warmers and wind gilet in the back pockets. There are some mixed kms with false flats, little descents, and some switchbacks to Casteldelfino (21 to go) where I stopped for a coffee and a half twix (do we call it twix just in Italy? It was called raider when I was a kid)
The road continues and the wind was blowing at my back, and I flew on the flat along the reservoir lake. Then some steeper parts began, but not too long, to reach Pontechianale. After the village there are other difficult parts, and if you don’t take them a little easy, you’ll pay it later.
Chianale (10 to go) is the last village before the hard part begins. I had problems with my carbon rims and brake pads last week on the Izoard descent, so I borrowed two normal alu wheels for shimano from a friend, and I was lucky, they have a 27, mine just have a 25 teeth.
When the road narrows and gets steeper you see a “-9 km” written in yellow on the asphalt. That’s where I put the 34x27 and never changed it again until the top, I don’t think I would have done it with the 25.
At -8km there is a panel with 14% gradient, and you can feel it. Then two three swithbacks to give you some breath, even if momentary.
The wind was still helping a bit, no trees, the sun was out, I was sweating more than I tought. A guy with a very nice Cervelo was going down fast. Altidude 2000, so 700 meters to climb, 7 kms to go.
I was hoping for more switchback, instead I got some very steep long parts along the side of the mountain.
I had my jersey open, and my bottle was about to finish, but if I touched my brake levers I could feel them quite cold, so I imagined a chilly descent.
At 3.5 to go there is a very wide bend, and you get 300 meters of almost flat road.
You would say it’s a relief (of course it is) but after your legs pedal faster than they did in the last 6 kms, you get 500 hard hard meters to the -3 sign.
And I did struggle from there to the top. A few swithbacks, some snow on the side, sun high in the sky, and sweat on my face.
-2 , will I do it? The altitude is above 2500 meters, the legs turn slowly.
-1, I kept seated, I couldn’t stand on the pedals, I could see the last turn before the top.
At 500 meters I got some “allez!” from some hikers, I was really struggling, the last turn is 200 m from the top, it finally gets less steep and I reached the line of the Italy-France border.
Ouff! 2744 meters, the highest I climbed on my bike, the hardest climb I’ve done so far.
Gorgeous view, I look forward to see it on tv for the Tour stage.
I asked some water to some French tourists in a car, I got half a bottle. I ate my other half twix, put my wind gilet and arm warmers and headed down.
It was warmer than the Izoard, I was better equipped, but I did not feel the cold on my thighs, knees and hands as in the first kms of the Izoard.
It’s a full 10 km downhill, your neck and arms can fell it. I was now below 2000 mt, other turns, and pedalling after them to keep the legs going. I have no computer but I guess I reached over 80 kph on the 14% part.
Very nice first 10 km part.
Now I knew I would get a less steep road, and a wind on my face.
Along the reservoir I think I was below 30 kph, while going up I was really fast.
Some other easy parts and I finally got to the car. I took my phone from the saddle bag: 4 pm. It took me 3 hours.
I changed and went to a bar for a much needed big coke and a local cheese sandwich.

Same as for Izoard: eat and drink, bring some warm clothes, don’t kill yourself on the run in to the beginning of the real climb.

The real worst part of the day: the 2h40'min drive back home in the late afternoon traffic (just kidding!)

Enda Marron
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by Enda Marron

French Alps:
base yourself in St Jean de Maurianne this give you access to..
Telegraphe
Galibier
Alpe D'Huez
Glandon
Croix de ferr
Then base yourself in Briacon for ...
Le Lauratard
Izoard
Sestiere
then bore your mates to death about it all
I took 6 weeks in France and Italy in 2009 - the best debt ever

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Gearjunkie
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Location: NZ

by Gearjunkie

Or stay in La Grave for access to all of the above.

And they have one of the coolest hotels ever - Hotel Edelweiss. Great hosts, great food, outstanding atmosphere.

8)

Dalai
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Location: Melbourne, Australia

by Dalai

Nice report again pastronef. I plan on riding Col d’Agnel, just from the French side...

Locations I settled on in the end were Bourg D'Oisans, Bourg Saint Maurice, Briancon, Barcelonnette, Buis-Les-Baronnies and Rencurel.

I have booked a range of accommodation for the trip; ranging from hotels with half pension, hotels B&B, a self contained apartment down to a hostel and an onsite caravan! I’m not particularly fussy, mostly just after a good bed for the night. I’m just hoping the accommodation is as good as it looks online.

by Weenie


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