Cyclo-tourists coming to the Alps understandably flock to the Route des Grandes Alpes to do the famous Tour de France climbs.
But there are countless lessor known climbs that are as beautiful, much quieter, and often very challenging.
Col des Annes begins just off the Route des Grandes Alpes near Le Grand Bornand. I first saw this road while skiing in Le Grand Bornand – I made a mental note to return with a bike.
It climbs through beautiful alpine pastures and is steep – look at the grade chart. I’d estimate the last 300 yards averages 15%. After struggling to the top – and shocking myself on the electric fence by the Col sign (!!) – I took a quick detour on the path below to Col de Borneronde (see map).
You can cycle up to Col des Annes with a road bike. But the other side to Reposoir is a steep hiking trail. I pushed/carried most of the way.
The descent along the trail was hard work, but beautiful. Well worth the adventure.
After passing the Chartreuse Abbey, I emerged in Reposoir and joined the main road to do the top half of Col de la Colombière. Always beautiful, always hard work, and always, always into the wind!
Col de la Colombiere will again be in the Tour de France in 2009. But will take the super difficult route via Col de Romme – see here for details