Col du Glandon and Le Fremezan

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On Strava.com, the social cycling tracker web-site, 2000+ people have cycled up Col du Glandon, but only one person has cycled to Le Fremezan. These two tough climbs share the same first 9 kilometres, but while the masses continue up to Glandon, I decided to first take a peek up the little known side road to Le Fremezan (named as the road ends below the Pic de Fremezan).

First, a little perspective:

Col du Glandon: 19.9 kms; 1460m ascent; 7.3% avg
Col du Tourmalet: 19.0 kms; 1404m ascent; 7.4% avg
Mont Ventoux: 21.4 kms; 1639m ascent; 7.6% avg
Le Fremezan: 16.7 kms; 1380m ascent; 8.3% avg

fremezan250To be clear, the narrow little road to Le Fremezan is not for the fussy. It is paved, but not a great surface. But I survived with a road bike. It is easy to miss the road – it is not signed, so make sure you have a good map, or you can get the gpx file from my map below.

The road was marked as closed due to tree-cutting, but it was a holiday so I knew there would be no-one working. An early gate meant I didn’t see a person, or any other living thing except for a few lambs.

Lambs

Lambs

The road just hairpins up, and up. It is almost always a steep drop on one side, and a mountain wall on the other: this was built on the side of a mountain. It was a little overcast so I don’t have any good photos, but there are plenty of good views, including the road to Glandon extending up in the distance.

All alone, except for the parapenter guy high in the air: :)

Fremezan

Fremezan

The road ends abruptly at 1836 metres. There is hiking up higher, but it is not for mountain bikes. I did find a skull of the last guy to climb this:
Last guy to climb here?

Last guy to climb here?

As I said, the road surface sucks, so I took the descent very slowly. I rejoined the main road and headed up to Col du Glandon. I love this climb, especially the last couple of crazy, hair-pinned kilometres. I could see a storm forming up high so I didn’t stop for photos. But a quick snap of a cyclist below:

Last 2 kms Until Col du Glandon

Last 2 kms Until Col du Glandon

Some old photos from other days:

Usually, I would next cycle the couple of extra kilometres to Col de la Croix de Fer, but I could see dark clouds and hear thunder in two directions. I decided to try and rush down before a storm hit.

Let me be very clear: Col du Glandon is a much nicer climb than Le Fremezan – better surface, better views, better links to other roads, etc. But, for those that like an extra challenge, now you know it’s there.

As I approached the half-way town the skies opened up. But I bypassed the first two opportunities for shelter knowing a better choice:

Caught in storm descending Glandon

Caught in storm descending Glandon

The rain lasted so long I needed a second! Santé.

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

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