French climbs with the least technical descents?

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Shrike
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Joined: Fri Jun 03, 2016 5:08 pm

by Shrike

Asking for a friend :)

Antoine
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Location: France

by Antoine

I found the big climbs in the Pyrénnées(Tourmalet, Peyresourde, Aspin, ... ) easier to descend than in the Alps (Galibier, Croix de fer, Glandon, ... ).
Because there is more visibility, less traffic, the curves are smoother and the road surface more predictable (same quality throughout the descent).
In the Alps the quality of the road surface can vary dramatically in one kilometer.

Best to stay on the well known climbs/descents used many times by the tour de France, the ones recently used by the tour can be on steep, small and narrow roads (ask Porte ... ).

sawyer
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Location: Natovi Landing

by sawyer

The shallower descents are obviously slower ... Lauteret > Bourg for example

Also the quieter multiple switchback descents are easy - from Les Deux Alpe for example
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Thanos
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by Thanos

The Col de La Madeleine down to the La Chambre side is pretty easy.

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fromtrektocolnago
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Joined: Sat Dec 07, 2013 10:15 pm

by fromtrektocolnago

ventoux isn't bad. agree about the pyrenees
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Mr.Gib
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Location: eh?

by Mr.Gib

If someone is looking for the least technical descents, I suspect they may have something to learn about equipment. Understanding how important the right tire pressure is and having perfectly set up brakes will do a lot more for them if the goal is safety then choosing the right road.

Pyrenees requires some caution, as noted some of the major cols in good weather can be nice but others, and lesser cols can be terrifying, especially if it is wet. Sheep and cow shit everywhere, grass, sand, and dirt in the switchbacks - even in the dry that can be nasty. Also some of the chipseal is done with polished river stone. I once stopped on the col de Mente to let air out of my tires because it was like ice in the rain. Looked up and I was standing beside the plaque that details Ocana crashing out of the TdF in 1971 on that very spot - so cool but damn...

Direction matters also. Going the wrong way over the Port de Bales is bad thing for example.
Last edited by Mr.Gib on Wed Feb 21, 2018 5:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
wheelsONfire wrote: When we ride disc brakes the whole deal of braking is just like a leaving a fart. It happens and then it's over. Nothing planned and nothing to get nervous for.

basilic
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Location: Geneva, Switzerland

by basilic

I'm not sure what you mean by technical, or if it's a good thing or bad.
If the road is steep, narrow, in poor state, with little visibility, you have to brake a lot, for survival. It's not technical, just nerve racking.
If it's a ski-resort access road (straight, hairpin, straight,...) it's a bit boring, and only the hairpins allow for any technique.
The best roads are somewhere in the middle, good enough visibility to allow for speed but twisty for the fun. A lot of the high passes are good that way because they're above the tree line, better sight lines. If the road is closed to traffic even more difficult roads become fun/technical as you use the whole width. Also if you know the road.
I wouldn't generalize Alps vs Pyrenees.

Shrike
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Joined: Fri Jun 03, 2016 5:08 pm

by Shrike

I'm using 'technical' as a catch all for speed combined with difficult cornering while dodging potholes and other obstacles along with visibility of oncoming traffic, and pretty much anything else that adds difficulty.

The missus, like most British riders to be honest, does not have much descending experience. We just don't have anything remotely like that here. We could be moving soon with easy access to France so thinking to create a list of climbs that are the least hairy on the way down and build experience that way.

I'm planning on asking Mike Cotty, he does all those cycling videos and he's done pretty much every climb worth noting I'm guessing, but I know we have quite a few members here who've spent time in these regions so would like to get a feel for the general consensus.

benzebub
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by benzebub

mt Ventoux to Sault
But I could be wrong

Mr.Gib
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Location: eh?

by Mr.Gib

Shrike, as one with a missus who while strong, lacks descending skill and nerve, I go back to my point about equipment. You're on this board so I am sure you know already, but big tires, lowish pressures, and here is something we don't often mention, wheels that are not too light. At least 1500 grams, and she will feel much more secure at speed. Be super careful with lever set up also. She must be perfectly comfortable with reach to the brake levers when on the drops. Set the levers close to the bars and run the pads close to rims to limit lever travel. And teach her how to use the brakes properly if you haven't done so already. Make her practic a descent where she only uses her front brake. Also don't tell her what the little crosses and bouquets that you see at the sides of the road in the alps are for. :P
wheelsONfire wrote: When we ride disc brakes the whole deal of braking is just like a leaving a fart. It happens and then it's over. Nothing planned and nothing to get nervous for.

spdntrxi
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Joined: Sat Jul 20, 2013 6:11 pm

by spdntrxi

Mr Gib... that is great advice.

campagowlo
Posts: 144
Joined: Mon Apr 10, 2017 6:05 pm

by campagowlo

Here are 5 I used to get more confident descending:

1) Ventoux to Bedoin
2) Iseran to Lanslebourg
3) Les Deux Alpes back to the dam
4) Cayolle to St Martin Entraunes
5) Nufenpass to Airolo (not far from France 😉).

Not the Col de Champs to Colmar which made me petrified it is lethal in terms of surface variation, bumps, width etc....

Thanos
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Joined: Thu Feb 08, 2018 11:49 pm

by Thanos

Learn how to descend on the drops rather than the hoods though, certainly helps with fatigue

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Shrike
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Joined: Fri Jun 03, 2016 5:08 pm

by Shrike

Thanks guys, haven't been posting and replying but I have been reading intently. And agree about the technical aspects re: kit. Had the whole braking/reach saga with the missus already. She has small hands, they just don't really design high end performance kit around women's sizes/reach that well.

Will be checking out the suggested climbs this weekend, cheers, keep 'em coming if possible :)

Rondje
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Joined: Mon Jun 23, 2014 8:46 pm
Location: Netherlands

by Rondje

Lautaret to bourg is pretty easy except for the tunnels around La Grave maybe.
Col d'Ornon is also easy if I remember correctly.
And Col du Petit Saint Bernard on French side might be worth checking out.

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