Re the Alps ride report on the home page - Thanks!!

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Anonymous's picture

The ride report on your trip to the Alps is just amazing. Thank you very much to all who chronicled it for the rest of us!

I was in that neck of France about 8 years ago - before I got serious about road biking. Actually it was that trip that finally made me break down and think about putting slicks on the mountain bike - the start of a full fledged addiction. And your pics brought back a flood of memories.

A bunch of friends went over there for a wedding. After the wedding, a friend lent 8 of us the use of her 400 year old farm house in a town named Die ('dee') near the Drome river - somewhere near Gap and Grenoble. My friends were hikers not bikers so that's what we did pretty much every day. Up onto the Glandasse Plateau. Pic Du Bure (which I think is near Alpe dHuez). Some of our driving took us through tunnels carved out of the rocks of Vercours and I went rock climbing for the first time in Verdun. After 8 days in Die we drove to Germany stopping off in Evolene, Switzerland where we stayed for a couple of nights so we could do a hike that led up to a glacier. Pretty wierd standing on ice in August.

Overall, we ate like kings. Never skipped a single dessert or passed up on another glass of wine. And still I lost 15 lbs. All in all I was in France for 4 or 5 weeks.

To this day I have a memory of driving out of Die and seeing this guy on a road bike riding up this incredible hill (that was probably just the foothill out of town) with no one else in site and thinking it looked hard, hot, and lonely. But nowadays there's rarely a day I don't think about being in his place!

One of these days I'd like to retrace some of those steps as well as do a similar trip to the one you did. I'm not sure if I could bike up those hills. They made us dizzy just driving on them. But I intend to find out someday!

Thanks again

Anonymous's picture
Anthony Poole (not verified)
Thanks also

Thanks also from me for putting thise pictures and the story of this epic tour up. I'm highly envious. I rode over the French Alps myself in 1999, when we rode from Nice to Paris in seven days.

Our route took us over the Col de la Bonnette - a real brute of a climb, which is 200 metres higher than the Col du Galibier and much harder - and of course, the Galibier itself, but we went in the opposite and easier direction, starting from Briançcon, up the Col du Lauteret, before turning onto the Galibier - 19kms or 19 miles of climbing? The descent of the Galibier going north is pretty scary and we had to slam on the anchors at 40 mph at the bottom on a straight, flat stretch of road, which was completely blocked by cows.

When we got to the top of the Col du Galibier, there was about a foot of snow, but the narrow road at the top had just been cleared, it was mid September. But the snow was firm enough to be able to put the front wheels of our bikes in at the side of the road on the summit and for it to act as a bike stand. We admired the views and had to wait, because a shepherd was bringing up a flock of around 1,000 sheep in the opposite direction. Behind the sheep was a German cyclist on a road bike, carrying a very heavy rucksack on his back. He was on his way from Munich to Nice. We were glad that we had hired a van and had persuaded people to drive it as our sagwag. All our luggage and spare parts, including a spare bike and two sets of wheels were in there, as well as food and first aid.

Going north (opposite from the way our NYCC crew went this year) over the Galibier and then the Col du Télegraphe is definitely easier than the other way. North over the Madeleine, the way we went, is a harder climb than doing it the other way. There were some other good climbs too, including the Col de la Faucille, and I clocked my highest ever speed of 57mph coming off the Jura mountains, one of my riding companions clocked 67mph on his bike computer, having stopped pedalling at 49mph, but our sag wagon who was following reckoned he hit 70mph - the man concerned is a total lunatic. I could have gone faster myself, if I hadn't got scared and braked.

Our route would also have taken us over the Col d'Izoard, but we had heard the road was closed to snow. And we went through Switzerland and under the runway at Geneva airport and back into France. I think we rode through the southwestern corner of Switzerland in about 20 minutes.

We also went over the Col de la Madeleine - my favourite, where I started the climb with a golden eagle circling over head. Later on, I was looking down on the same bird, circling below me. And I reached the top 10 minutes before anyone else and sat outside the cafe at the top and drank an overpriced cup of coffee. I used to be able to climb in those days.

Coincidentally, one of our sag wagon drivers just sent me copies of the photographs I was missing, so this has all brought back happy memories of the ride.

Does anyone know whether the Tour de France has ever gone over the Col de la Bonnette? I thought I had read somewhere that it did during the 1980s on a stage that was won by Robert Miller? I don't know why the TdF doesn't use it these days, because it is a spectacular climb and very hard in both directions. It averages 8% in both directions, but is harder in some places. At 2,802m it is also said to be the highest paved pass in Europe. Whether that is true or not I don't know, but it is definitely the highest paved pass in France - or at least that's what all the guides say.

If you've never ridden the Alps I highly recommend it. I've yet to do the Pyrenees, but they are on my to do list. And I want to go back and do the D'Izoard at some point. Also on my todo list is Alpe D'Huez and Les Deux Alpes.

We went in the third week of September - really cheap accommodation, after the summer hiking season is over and before the ski season starts - and we staye

Anonymous's picture
David Schlichting (not verified)
Report on the Alps

Having returned 2 weeks ago from a 6 day tour in the Alpes-Maritimes, it's energizing to view the tales of our colleagues' tour.
Our self contained trip (panniers only, hotels --no camping) covered only 250 miles and 33,000 feet of climbing on a steady diet of 8% - 14% grades. We did the Col de la Bonnette, across to Italy via the Col de la Lombarde, then the Colle di Valcavera, Colle di Sampeyre (last 2 on last year's Giro route) then back into France via the Colle d'Agnello.
Thanks for sharing the memories, and refreshing memories of my tours in that region in 1990 and 1995.

cycling trips