Col d’Izoard: Col Reservé (bike only day)

5

Alpine cols aren’t usually ever that crowded. But the most famous attract plenty of traffic in summer. I had been passed by perhaps a thousand motorcycles a couple of weeks ago on Cormet de Roselend (like Izoard, part of the Route des Grandes Alpes).

So what a joy to cycle the legendary Col d’Izoard with both sides closed to motorised traffic.
At 2360 metres, Col d’Izoard will be the highest point in the upcoming 2014 Tour de France.

This was part of the Hautes-Alpes region’s “Col Reservés” program. See here for more bike-only days in the Alps.

My plans weren’t overly ambitious. I started in Briançon at the bottom of the north side of Izoard with the intention of climbing to the summit and then descending half way down the south side — to the point were the road was closed – and doubling back. No rush.

La Casse Déserte

La Casse Déserte

The previous day I had seen hundreds and hundreds of cyclists cycling at Alpe d’Huez, many being far too serious. Here? The most friendly ambience imaginable. And far less cyclists than at the Alpe. Those fools didn’t know what they were missing. ;)

The north side is the less famous side, but plenty of nice hairpins. I am always looking for the elusive heart-shaped hairpins. A mediocre attempt at a double?

Heart shaped roads?

Heart shaped roads?

The silence was deafening. Such a pleasure.

Loving the Silence

Loving the Silence

They descend faster than me

They descend faster than me

Nice views

Nice views

A colourful peloton

A colourful peloton

La Casse Déserte

La Casse Déserte

At the summit and at both sides where the road closures were set up were friendly staff and free snacks. Many thanks to the kind madame that made me a coffee after each summiting.

The summit - free food

The summit – free food

The Coppi-Bobet monument is at the 2km from summit sign on the south side. Careful, it is very easy to miss.

Coppi-Bobet Monument

Coppi-Bobet Monument

I hiked along the ridge at the summit for this great view down on the Casse Déserte:

Hairpin Heaven

Hairpin Heaven

Some more photos:

Secretly my favourite photo? Passing all the traffic waiting for the road to re-open as I descended back to Briançon. A perfect day.

Ha! Waiting for the col to reopen

Ha! Waiting for the col to reopen

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Happiest while cycling uphill. More enthusiastic than talented, my 2014 Challenge is to cycle 50 great rides, slowly.

5 Comments

  1. Seriously jealous! I was pedalking up here this week, but on a Sunday in August the motorbikes are an endless ear-splitting stream.
    Still loved it though!

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