Cycle the Alps Traffic-Free: Here’s How (2017 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. Excellent.

Here is a 2017 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 whenever you want.
3) There is a mix of cyclists of all levels, ages, sizes. Most riding leisurely.
4) The ambiance 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 of this site top-right for more details on most of these climbs.

FRANCE

HAUTES-ALPES (official site)
The Hautes-Alpes region is the clear leader here holding over 30 events, many on legendary climbs like Izoard, Galibier, Granon, Allos, etc. See here for my write up of the 2014 Izoard event to get a feel for one of these great days.

JUNE
Wed 14th: Col d’Izoard – 11h à 14h
Sun 25th: Montée du Pré de Madame Carle – 9h à 12h
Wed 28th: Col du Granon – 8h à 10h
Thu 29th: Col du Galibier – 8h à 11h
Fri 30th: Col d’Izoard – 8h à 10h

JULY
Mon 10th: Col de Vars – 9h à 12h
Tue 11th: Montée de Puy St Vincent – 9h à 12h
Wed 12th: Montée de Risoul – 9h à 12h
Mon 17th: Montée de Lure – 8h à 12h
Mon 17th: Col d’Allos – 8h à 11h
Mon 24th: Montée de Lure – 8h à 12h
Mon 24th: Col d’Allos – 8h à 11h
Wed 26th: Col du Granon – 8h à 10h
Thu 27th: Col du Galibier – 8h à 11h
Fri 28th: Col d’Izoard – 8h à 10h
Mon 31st: Montée de Lure – 8h à 12h
Mon 31st: Col d’Allos – 8h à 11h

AUGUST
Mon 7th: Col de Pommerol – 9h à 12h
Mon 7th: Montée de Lure – 8h à 12h
Mon 7th: Col d’Allos – 8h à 11h
Tue 8th: Montée de Chabre – 9h à 12h
Wed 9th: Col du Noyer – 9h à 12h
Thu 10th: Col des Guérins – 9h à 12h
Fri 11th: Montée de Céuze – 9h à 12h
Mon 14th: Montée de Lure – 8h à 12h
Wed 16th: Montée de Risoul – 9h à 12h
Mon 21st: Col de Vars – 9h à 12h
Mon 21st: Montée de Lure – 8h à 12h
Wed 23rd: Montée des Orres de 9h30 à 11h
Wed 30th: Col du Granon – 8h à 10h
Thu 31st: Col du Galibier – 8h à 11h

SEPTEMBER
Fri 1st: Col d’Izoard – 8h à 10h

Col d’Izoard Bike Day 2014

OISANS COL SERIES

Every Tuesday morning, from June 27th until August 22nd, the Oisans region – the home of Alpe d’Huez – will close a climb for a bike-only event. See here for details. I can especially recommend Col du Sabot, and Col de Sarenne.

June 27th: Col du Sabot 9-12
July 4th: Auris en Oisans 9-11
July 11th: Col d’Ornon 9-11
July 18th: Col de Sarenne 9-12
July 25th: Villard-Reculas 9-11
Aug 1st: Col du Glandon / Croix de Fer 9-12
Aug 8th: Alpe d’Huez 9-11
Aug 22nd: Col de Sarenne 9-12

Col de Sarenne

JURA MOUNTAINS

Col du Grand Colombier will feature in the Tour de France in 2017. The first Saturday of the month from June to September the road is closed to cars for a bike day. Note, in past years they have climbed the Culoz side. But due to a landslide closing this side, the even will climb from Artemare. Details here.

UPDATE: Due to a landslide on the Culoz side of Grand Colombier, the bike-only days with climb the Artemare side …. still starting in nearby Culoz. The “Lacets du Colombier” – above the landslide – are currently closed.

Grand Colombier

Mont-Blanc-Savoie
I’ve been to perhaps a dozen of these “Un-Jour Un-Col” events over the years (Iseran, Glandon, Joux Plane, Ramaz, Aravis, etc). Unfortunately, last year the Mont-Blanc-Savoie region canceled their series of car-free days. A few climbs may still hold events, but I’ve yet to find any in this region. I’ll update this if I see any.

Update: Col de l’Iseran will close the top parts of both sides on June 25th. Details here. Fabulous, I may attend again with my wife.

Iseran Car-free day

ITALY

Monte Grappa Bike Day – June 3rd.
Monte Grappa Bike Night – July 22nd
Details for both events here.
See here for my experience cycling the first ever Monte Grappa bike day in 2014 – it’s an amazing mountain.

First ever Monte Grappa Bike Day – 2014

Sella Ronda Bike Day – June 25th.
The beautiful 55 km Sella Ronda Route climbs four passes: Pordoi, Gardena, Sella, and Campolongo.
Details here.

Stelvio Bike Day – September 2nd. Details here.

Mendelpass – September 27th. Details here.

Passo dello Stelvio

SWITZERLAND

Moosalpe – August 27th. Details here.
Albulapass – September 3rd. Details here.

Albula Beauty

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Happiest while cycling uphill.

2 Comments

  1. Robert Downey on

    Will, Great article, I’m an American living in Belgium for 9 years now, and read your blog regularly to get ideas on places to ride, your blog is simply fantastic and entertaining, and so, so useful. I’ve never posted a question before, but some of your rides in the Alps where you have used your BMC hybrid are ones I’d like to do, but I need to get a similar hybrid to make the road/gravel transition and to handle the steep % grades (which I can’t do on my compact gear Roubaix). I can’t tell by the photos, but would you mind telling me what size tires you use, and what is the gear ratios ? And, if you were to make a similar hybrid, would you do the same thing, or try to do it using one of these new adventure/gravel bike hybrids ? Look forward to your reply, All the best, Robert

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