As luck would have it, I have a cycling friend in St Etienne (today’s Paris-Nice finish). Philippe kindly invited me to come see the stage with him after first exploring the very interesting hills of the Parc Naturel Régional du Pilat by bike.
There is a currently a lot of snow around. So it’s either stay on ploughed roads or brave the powder.
Believe it or not, I have yet to go cycling in 2009. Don’t worry, I haven’t been too lazy.
Col de Crozet is in the middle of a tiny ski station in the Jura mountains above Geneva.
Last year Le Cycle magazine called Mont du Chat possibly the toughest climb in France …. for me it’s far too short for that honour, but it’s hard work.
PS – cyclists should check before every ride that their tires are in good condition.
The sign at the top said Combe Blanche. My book says Col de Puthod and Michelin maps says Col de la Vattay.
Regardless it’s a fantsatic, steep, deserted climb in the Jura mountains.
Col de la Biche and Col du Grand Colombier are two of the hardest unknown climbs in France. In the Jura mountains, they are both “roads to nowhere” meaning virtually no traffic (I saw 5 cars in over 3 hours on the climbs).
Eric and I took mountain bikes and decided to get muddy and search for the secret road over the Jura mountains and the savage Col du Sac down to the tiny Menthières ski station on the other side.
At the turn, I told Eric it would be impossible to reach and totally covered in snow.
He gave me a half-smile. I knew we were going up.