Cycle the Alps Traffic-Free: Here’s How (2015 Edition)

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Many of the most famous climbs in the alps have days where they are closed to motor traffic, reserved for cyclists. Nice.

Here is a 2015 list of “Cols reservés,” car-free days. I’d be grateful for any comments indicating other car-free events. But first, let’s be clear about these special days:

1) They are NOT cyclosportives or races.
2) For most: There is no need to register, and they are free. Show up, start when-ever you want.
3) There is a mix of cyclists of all levels, ages, sizes. Most riding leisurely.
4) The ambience is great. Everyone is in a good mood.
5) There is usually a free drink and snack stand or two. Perhaps even (minor) entertainment.
6) Usually it’s surprisingly uncrowded (but then these are big roads).
7) Check details: Usually the roads are only closed in the morning and often only the top half of climbs are closed.

Use the Search bar for more details on most of these climbs.

France

Savoie-Mont Blanc Region (official site)

Sunday June 21: Col des Aravis
Saturday June 27: Col des Glières
Thursday July 2: Col du Galibier
Sunday July 5: Col de l’Iseran
Monday July 13: Col de la Croix de Fer
Saturday July 18: Col de Bassachaux
Saturday July 25: Mont Salève
Sunday August 2: Col de Joux Plane
Sunday August 16: Col de la Ramaz
Thursday August 20: Col de la Madeleine
Thursday August 27: Col du Glandon
September ??: Le Semnoz (to be confirmed)

Col de l'Iseran, car-free day 2013

Col de l’Iseran, car-free day 2013 with Doreen

Glandon 2013.  Philippe on bike-only day

Glandon 2012. Philippe on bike-only day

Hautes Alpes Region (official site)

Note, the official Hautes Alpes web site has not yet been updated for 2015, but the dates below are correct.

Organised as two week-long events, ride all five in week and get a free event cycling jersey (me in my jersey). Nice. Perfect for a week long tranquil vacation in a beautiful region.

Week one features four huge climbs plus the scenic Col d’Echelle on the Italian border. Note, that the Col du Galibier day (south-side) corresponds with the north-side day above. That makes for a truly amazing day.

Monday June 29: Col Agnel
Tuesday June 30: Col d’Izoard
Wednesday July 1: Col de l’Echelle
Thursday July 2: Col du Galibier
Friday July 3: Col du Granon

Week two features some smaller far lesser known climbs (I’ve only done Col du Noyer and it’s superb). I especially would like to try the very tough Mont Colombis.

Monday August 24: Col de Pommerol / Fromagère
Tuesday August 25 : Montée de Chabre
Wednesday August 26: Mont Colombis
Thursday August 27: Montée de Céuze
Friday August 28: Col du Noyer

Col du Noyer

Col du Noyer

Oisans Col Series (Official Site)

8 days, 6 great climbs reserved for cyclists – all near Bourg d’Oisan – the bottom of Alpe d’Huez. Let me especially recommend Sarenne, Sabot, and Croix de Fer.

Tuesday July 7: Col d’Ornon
Tuesday July 14 & Tuesday August 18: Col de Sarenne
Tuesday July 21 and Tuesday August 25: Col du Sabot
Tuesday July 28: Auris en Oisans
Tuesday August 4th: Alpe d’Huez
Tuesday August 11th: Col de la Croix de Fer

Col de Sarenne

Col de Sarenne

More French events:

Col d’Allos:

Every Friday in July and August the south side is closed to traffic (north side too? – not sure)

Allos Car-free fridays

Allos Car-free fridays

Les Gorges de la Nesque

June 7th 8am-6pm – If you visit Mont Ventoux then you must visit the incredible Gorges de la Nesque. A 20km climb at perhaps only 2%, but so beautiful, like a mini grand canyon. Details here.

Les Gorges de la Nesque

Les Gorges de la Nesque

Italy

Monte Grappa Bike Day (official site)

Saturday May 30 – I rode this in 2014. One of my best days ever on a bike. Details here.

Monte Grappa Bike Day

Monte Grappa Bike Day

Sella Ronda Bike Day (official site)

1. Sunday June 21 from 8.30 am until 3.30 pm
2. Sunday Sept 13 from 8.30 am until 3.30 pm (ECO Dolomites day)

Two very cool events: the 55 kilometres Sella Ronda loop in the Dolomites is entirely closed to traffic as well as several of the top stretches of arterial roads leading up to the loop. It gets fairly crowded.

Doreen: Passo Sella

Doreen: Passo Sella

Börz-Plose Bike Day

Sunday June 28 – Another great Dolomite event. Details here.

Passo dello Stelvio

Sunday July 12 – Stelvio Mapei 2015 – Note, you must register for this event. See here.
Saturday August 29 – Stilsferjoch Radtag. Details here

Stelvio: Snow in July

Stelvio: Snow in July

Colle delle Nivolet

Every Sunday from mid-July through August the upper kilometres (above the dams) are closed to motorised traffic. A truly stunning climb. Details here.

Colle delle Nivolet selfie

Colle delle Nivolet selfie

Mendolapass

Saturday September 17th. I don’t have an official link.

Switzerland

Sunday September 6: Albulapass (official site)

Albula Beauty

Albula Beauty

Most aren’t difficult climb-wise but for a whole series of well-run and well-attended bike-only events all-over Switzerkland see Slowup.ch

Austria

Grossglockner

Sunday June 7: – I’ve yet to cycle in Austria, but I am tempted to make the trip to climb this alps giant. Details.

Radtag Hahntennjoch

Sunday September 6: Details here.

Final Thoughts

I will definitely be at a few of these events, they are always very relaxing, friendly, and fun. I hope you will get a chance to visit some as well. Again, if you know of more events, please let me know.

Below: Free cheese at last Hairpin on 2013 Col des Aravis car-free day:

Col des Aravis and some tasty cheese

Col des Aravis and some tasty cheese

Col de l'Iseran bike only day - Grey Beard drinks beer

Col de l’Iseran bike only day – Grey Beard drinks beer

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Happiest while cycling uphill.

4 Comments

  1. Pingback: Col de l’Iseran by E-Bike (Car Free Day)

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  4. Did Stelvio Bike day this year (2016). All 3 roads closed to traffic, feed and water stations and Souvenir Jersey stalls on both Italian passes.

    We climbed Bormio side, descended the Swiss Umbrail Pass (now continuously paved with fresh tarmac), rode around the valley and then climbed the Prat side with the famous Trefoi hairpins before descending back into Bormio.

    Wouldn’t want to have tried to descend the Prat side as it was the busiest, but not getting buzzed by motor bikes is a joy (writing as a biker as well as a cyclist). Brilliant day out and will be trying some of the French versions so thanks for the site.

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