Cycle the Alps Traffic-Free: Here’s How (2018 Edition)

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Col de l’Iseran bike day – the wife

Many of the most famous climbs in the Alps have days when they are closed to motor traffic, reserved for cyclists. Excellent. Here is a 2018 list of more than fifty “Cols Reservés,” car-free days. I’d be grateful for any comments indicating other car-free events.

Edit: Note, the French Pyrénées are also included below. Excellent.

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.
8) There are some Granfondos/Sportives held on closed roads (eg. the Maratona dles Dolomites) but I have excluded these. This is a list of uncompetitive social rides.

Use the search bar of this site top-right for more details on most of these climbs from my rides over the years. Or see the provided links below for the specific event details.

Col du Glandon Car-free day 2012. Hear the silence.

FRANCE

HAUTES-ALPES

Col d’Izoard Bike Day 2014

The Hautes-Alpes region is the clear leader here holding over 20 events, many on legendary climbs like Izoard, Agnel, Galibier, Granon, etc. See here for my write up of the 2014 Izoard event to get a feel for one of these great days.

The official site for every event is here. I expect them to add more details soon.

JUNE
Sun 6th: Réallon
Sun 17th: Col de Pontis
Sun 24th: Pré de Madame Carle

JULY
Fri 6th: Col Agnel
Mon 9th: Col de Vars
Tue 10th: Puy Saint-Vincent
Tue 17th: Risoul
Wed 25th: Col du Granon
Thu 26th: Col du Galbier
Fri 27th: Col d’Izoard

AUGUST
Mon 6th: Pommerol
Tue 7th: Chabre
Wed 8th: Col du Noyer
Thu 9th: Foureyssasse
Fri 10th: Ceüse
Mon 20th: Col de Vars
Tue 21st: Risoul
Wed 22nd: Les Orres
Wed 29th: Col du Granon
Thu 30th: Col du Galibier
Fri 31st: Col d’Izoard

SEPTEMBER
Sun 9th: Col Agnel

Col Agnel/Colle dell’Agnello – 3rd highest paved pass in Europe

Col du Noyer

Mont-Blanc-Savoie

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

Fortunately, Col de l’Iseran — the highest paved mountain pass in Europe — will continue to hold their event: Sunday June 24th – details here. Both sides of this beautiful road are closed. I’ve done it a few times, so great without motorised traffic. My wife and I will likely be there again in 2018, so please say hi.

A few photos from the 2017 event (blog post with map here):

Col de l’Iseran bike day 2017

OISANS COL SERIES

Every Tuesday morning in July and August, the Oisans region – home of Alpe d’Huez – will close a climb for a bike-only event. See here for details. Most are between 9am and noon, but there are details for each ride in the above link. I can especially recommend Col du Sabot, and Col de Sarenne.

July 3rd: Cols Glandon / Croix de Fer
July 10th: Col d’Ornon
July 17th: Col de Sarenne
July 24th: Auris en Oisans
July 31st: Col du Sabot
Aug 7th: Alpe d’Huez
Aug 14th: Villard Reculas
Aug 21st: Col d’Ornon
Aug 28th: Col de Sarenne

For details of above climbs and a few more (great) lesser known ideas in the region see this post: Beyond Alpe d’Huez: The Best Cycling Climbs from Bourg d’Oisans.

Col de Sarenne

PYRENEES

This is exciting. The Haute-Pyrénées will hold a week-long series of bike days on some of the most famous climbs in the Pyrénées. Note, Col de Portet (2215m) will be in 2018 Tour de France for the first time. Higher than Tourmalet, the top kilometres are gravel – although may be paved for the Tour. I rode it here.

July 30th: Col de Peyresourde / Col d’Azet (details)
July 30th: Col de Portet (details)
July 31st: Col d’Aspin (details)
August 1st: Col du Tourmalet / Luz Ardiden (details)
August 2nd: Hautacam (details)
August 3rd: Col d’Aubisque via Col des Bordères (details)

JURA MOUNTAINS

The Jura giant, Le Grand Colombier featured in the Tour de France in 2017. From June to September, on the 3rd Saturday of the month, the road will be closed to cars for a bike day up the best (most scenic) side starting in Culoz. Details here.

Grand Colombier – scenic

SWITZERLAND

There are a bunch of events this year in Switzerland. Fabulous!

Road to Col de la Gueulaz

See here for details of the thirteen events listed below. Note, a few events will include the chance to ride with Fabian Cancellara (!?!). Also, a few are a touch longer than a single climb with lower stretches not on closed roads — but still very interesting.

May 1st: Lukmanier Pass (mid April will decide if route can be opened/snow)
May 26th: Susten Pass – (requires registration/fee)
June 9th: Crans-Montana
June 10th: Arosa – canceled
June 24th: Oberalp Pass
July 1st: Col des Mosses / Col du Pillon / Col de la Croix
July 22nd: Granfondo San Gottardo (great but has a fee)
Aug 11th: Tour des Stations (Croix de Coeur) – (registration/fee)
Sept 2nd: slowUp Mountain Albula Pass
Sept 16th: Flüela Pass (Davos Festival) – registration but free
Sept 16th: La Désalpe Reichenbach (Emosson / Col de la Gueulaz)
Sept 22nd: Klausen Pass / Pragel Pass

Albula Beauty

Old Tremola Road: San Gottardo / Gotthard Pass

ITALY

5th annual Monte Grappa Bike Day – May 26th.
3rd annual Monte Grappa Bike Night – July 21st
Details for both events here.
See here for my experience cycling the first ever Monte Grappa bike day in 2014 – it’s one of the most interesting mountains I know, full of history and many routes up.

First ever Monte Grappa Bike Day – 2014

Sella Ronda Bike Day – June 23rd.
The beautiful 55 km Sella Ronda Route climbs four passes: Pordoi, Gardena, Sella, and Campolongo.
Details here.

Passo Sella

Stelvio Bike Day – September 1st. Details here.

STELVIO

Mendelpass – September 22nd. Details here.

Austria

June 3rd: Grossglockner – details
(this is a road I’d love to add to my list of climbs – 2423 metres).

July 1st: Mooserboden – details

Final Thoughts

I’ve been to a bunch of these events over the years and they are always fun. Quiet, friendly atmosphere, stress-free. Highly recommended. Again, I’d appreciate you leaving in the comments any events that I have missed.

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Happiest while cycling uphill.

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