French Alps rides?

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

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by Dalai

I will be solo in France (my wife will be at a Performance Science conference in Toronto) and have spent many months in the region in the past rock climbing - Ceuse just outside Gap, Buoux near Apt, the Verdon Gorge etc.

Plan is purely to hit as many hills as possible in the two weeks. Looking like one week will be around Bourg d'Oisans and the second in Bourg Saint Maurice. Both are accessable by train / bus and enough climbs to keep me busy during that time. Then I'll fly out of Geneva to spend the next month in Malta recovering :lol: and is where I will meet up with my wife for the remainder of the trip.

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by Dalai

Flights and accommodation now booked in Bourg D'Oisans and Bourg Saint Maurice. :D

Rough itinerary for the two weeks

Bourg D'Oisans

1. Alpe d'Huez and Balcony road. First afternoon
2. Marmotte loop (excluding Alpe d'Huez): Glandon(s), Telegraphe, Galibier(n)
3. 'Easy ride'. Maybe Sarenne or Berarde or Ornon loop.
4. Croix de Fer (s), Madeleine(s), Glandon(n)
5. 'Easy ride'. Maybe Sarenne or Berarde or Ornon loop
6. Lautaret(w), Izoard(n), Lautaret(e)
7. 'Easy ride'. Maybe Sarenne or Berarde or Ornon loop or Alpe d'Huez again

Rest day travelling to -

Bourg Saint Maurice

1. Col d l'Iseran (n), Lanslevillard, Col d l'Iseran (s)
2. Col du pit St Bernard (w), Morgex, (e) Col du pit St Bernard (e)
3. Comet des Roseland (s), Col de l'Arpettaz (w) Col de Saisies (n), Comet des Roseland (n)
4. La Plagne or Les Arcs
5. Col de la Madeleine (n) return
6. Courchevel (n) return or La Plagne or Les Arcs

Now there may be an option to extend the France trip by a week (although not sure if my legs will still be working by then), still relying on trains and buses and was thinking of moving to another valley in the area.

Any recommendations for which town and good accommodation suggestions? Annecy possibly?

Also I might be able to sneak across the Sicily by Ferry from Malta for another week. I have found a site with ride suggestions in the Mt Etna region leaving from Acireale. So any suggestions for bike friendly accommodation in the Catania / Acireale area?


by Weenie

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by bomber

Yikes... I hope you have packed your climbing legs?!?

I have spent a couple of weeks in a lot of those areas and it's a different world from anything I have ever experienced anywhere else. You have some pretty big days there but I would be prepared to be flexible as once you factor in jet lag and fatigue let alone the potential for the weather to change quickly you might find the succession of days a little less than enjoyable.

Good luck and I look forward to a photo blog of the results!
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by Dalai

Definitely a wish list rather than set in stone... Focus has been on training for this trip rather than road racing this Winter!

As soon as the summer track season finished, I started heading out in the hills regularly (hence the Mt Donna Buang repeats last weekend posted in the 'On the road' thread) and I plan to continue doing so every weekend plus sneak into the Dandenongs midweek.

As extra insurance I have bought a medium cage rear derailleur and 13-29 cassette just for this trip too! :shock:

I have bought a new camera just for this trip, though my photography skills are no where near others on this forum I will post a few here when the time comes. :wink:

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by basilic

Dalai - in your 1sr week you could climb the col du Sabot, above vaujany, for variety (it's a dead end).

If I were you (I know...) instead of doing 7+7 days I'd do 5+5+4, spending a few days in Barcelonnette, slightly south. Great climbs (Bonnette, Cayolle, Allos, Champs, Moutière, Vars,...), small roads, ... Plus you are close enough to the climbs that you can do single day loops instead of riding up and down the same road. maybe next time!

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by dgasmd

The barcelonete suggestion is a good one. If you are going to climbs as seem to be, not doing the big daddy of them all, Cime de la Bonnette seems like a shame.

My best advice for "training" would be to loose as much weight as you can before you leave regardless of what you weight now. Whether that is 2lb or 20lb, you'll be so glad you did.


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by Gearjunkie

Dalai, when are you going?

There's a group of us also from downunder (but from the other side of the Tasman) staying for a few days in La Grave (just up the road from Bourg) and then Bormio and Cortina in Italy. We are going to be in La Grave 11/6 to 14/6 (most of our time is in Italy thanks to great reviews of the Italian climbs and roads).

If you're there at the same time, it would be good to catch up for a WW Aussie vs WW Kiwi contest....



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by Dalai

Thanks for the tips guys.

Barcelonnette does look good, though looks like a spot for next time. Then I'll plan to stay longer and make sure I hire a car too.

As for weight, I expect to be loosing extra weight through the additional training. I was in the hills again this morning with two repeats of the popular Melbourne climb in the Dandenongs know as the 1 in 20. Then it will be back out to Mt Donna Buang this Saturday for more repeats (longest climb 'local' to Melbourne at 16.8km 6.4%) where I expect to be even when the snow comes! 15 weekends still to go before I leave...

@Gearjunkie. Your trip sounds great! It would have been good to catch up, but I will be over later though - second half of August. I look forward to seeing the pictures and hearing how it goes!

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by Dalai

Goal posts are continually moving... I might not need to be in Malta early September as before which could possibly free up another two weeks not the extra one I was thinking!

If so I would look at hiring/leasing a small car (big enough for the bike box, even a small van - Kangaroo perhaps?). Still more likely keep to France unless I can be persuaded so Barcelonnette could be a go. Any other places with enough climbs to be based say 3-4 days each? I'd rather not spend most of the trip travelling so having enough to be based at each spot at least a couple of days would be great and easily driveable after Bourg Saint Maurice? It has been over a decade since I've driven on the wrong side of the road, so rather not take overly technical roads nor want to drive long distances, I have to do enough of that here in Australia!

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by Mr.Gib

You may want to look into the Vercor region. It does not have major mountain passes but there are about 20 significant cols and 2000 meters climbing per day is no problem if you want it. I found the place quite mind-blowing. Many dramatic cliff-side roads, beautiful valleys, and quaint towns. Hotel Marronier in the small town of Rencurel caters to cyclists. In your life you won't see to many roads like Combe Laval or Gorges du Nan. In three or four days you can see nearly all of it. I was there during July and it was quiet. I hear August is busier.
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by basilic

Do the car thing. You could start from the Mediterranean (Menton or Nice) and make your way North, drop the car in Gva or Lyon dependinig on where you fly out of. The transfers should be <2h of driving, so you'll ride every day. Warm up on col de la Madone (LA's climb) by the coast, then the area of Turini, then Barcelonnette, etc.

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by Dalai

Looking more likely that I will be in France for 4 weeks and not two as originally organised. First two weeks still to be Bourg d'Oisans and Bourg Saint Maurice accessed by public transport and have reduced the schedule to three day blocks with actual rest day at each location and more if neccessary.

Then for the following two weeks I have booked a Renault Kangoo so I can check other climbs in the Alps.

Rough itinerary for these additional weeks then will be with two possibilities for flights from Lyon noted -

- Megeve loop - Col de la Colombiere(n), Col des Aravis(n) 96km 1750m climb
- Rest Day -Travel to Briancon
- Col Agnel (w), Izoard(s)
- Col de Montgenevre (w), Sestriere Italy, Col de Montgenevre (e)
- Drive to Barcelonnette Rest Day / Col de Vars (s) (60km)?
- Col de la Bonette(w), Col de la Lombarde (s), Col de Larche (s) 178km - 4250m climb
- Col d'Allos (n), Col des Champs (w), Col de la Cayolle (s) 126km - 3300m climb
- Drive to Carpentas Rest Day
- Mont Ventoux (s) via Bedion
- Mont Ventoux (n) via Malaucene? Drive to Vercors
- Vercors Ride very easy or Rest Day
- Vercors Hard
- Possible flight to Malta (am) otherwise Vercors easy
- Vercors Ride Hard
- Drop Off Car Lyon Airport am - sightseeing in Lyon
- Fly to Malta (am)

Open to substitute other rides in the various areas at peoples recommendations. Accommodation is not booked yet for these extra weeks so can shift things around - other than checking availability at Hotel Marronier for the last days in the Vecors.

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by KB

Enjoyed this thread and all the possible alternatives. The classic Mont Ventoux is via Bedoin, which as you will have gathered is close to Bedoin (should have said Carpentras) and the southern approach.
Last edited by KB on Wed May 11, 2011 11:17 am, edited 1 time in total.

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by Dalai

Thanks, that's what I've read so have Mt Ventoux via Bedoin for the first time up. Since I'm there, is it worthwhile to hit it up via Malaucene the next morning or just continue on straight away?

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by owl

You have a mix of quite easy and hard days which helps recovery. FWIW

1) Montgenevre to Sestrieres day and back is straightforward, Montgenevre is a v.quick climb especially from the Italian side. I would throw in the Finestre :thumbup:
2) Bonnette, Lombarde, Larche day is quite a day. the Bonnette from Jausiers takes time and so does the Bonnette, do not underestimate the Lombarde from the Isola (French side), there is a lot of shallowing descending on that day which from my experience is tiring (more so than the climbs :P )

by Weenie

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