Cyclotour du Léman – La Montagnarde

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The Cyclotour du Léman has several thousand people cycling around Lake Geneva (known locally as Lac Léman).

There is also a mountain route through the Juras (only about 160 people) and since I circled the lake last year, this year I chose “La Montagnarde.”

I was planning on canceling due to my ribs, but frankly they hurt more sleeping, driving, and walking, than cycling – and they seemed a little better this morning – so what the heck.

Starting and ending in Lausanne, Switzerland, the course was listed at 120 kilometres with 1,800 metres climb (~6000 feet) but my computer says both those numbers were a little low.

The Swiss know how to run an event! The first 30 kilometres or so were along the main road by the lake and we had several motorcycles supporting us and all intersections cleared!

I started casually near the back and suddenly noticed that the group was splitting into a fast peleton – and everyone else. I hit my max heart rate for the day on minutes 5 – 7 catching the faster group – ouch!

satmont Lake geneva from Juras

After 30 kms the route headed into the Jura (think Jurassic) mountains. First through beautiful little villages and then along QUIET forest roads. It was gray and a little cloudy, but fantastic views of the lake and the Alps beyond for much of the day.

Col du Mollendruz Col du Marchairuz

There were two main climbs – both along alternate quiet roads. This route for Col du Marchairuz 1,447 metres (~5000 feet) is excellent. Climbing through the Jura forests and then coming to an indented alpine pasture along the top of the Juras – the long straight line on the map before the Col is atop the Juras. Just us and the cows.

Instead of the main road, the route for Col du Mollendruz was a tiny forest road (starting at Montrichier) and for several kilometres was easily the steepest climb I have ever done on a road bike. Much of it high teens. I passed two guys that had passed me previously while doing 4 (!!) kilometres an hour. In fact, this amazing road climbs to Chatel above the Col and then doubles back.

Someone asked me if I was ready for climb two. I said “no worries – its a lot less steep than the first climb.” I thought we were taking the main road! After, at the food station, he – cheerfully – came looking for me, yelling “where’s the damn english guy that said this climb was easy!”

The ribs held up pretty well, and all in all a very fun day.

The Swiss are smaller than Americans. From experience, I reserved an XXL (yes 2 X’s) cycling jersey. And it fits perfectly. I take an American Large.


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

12 Comments

  1. bravo, well done.
    these mountains above the lake are ‘grandioses’.
    the direct road between the 2 cols is not obvious, is the asphalt new ?
    I only remember rough roads around there…
    funny note about the sizes, I think cycling gears sizes in Europe are very ‘impressionist’, a spanish or italian XXL is actually like a german/swiss L.
    I do not put the brand names here but you will sure understand what I am writing about :-)

  2. Salut Philippe

    The straight road “west” of Marchairuz is beautiful but a bit bumpy.

    The road from Marchairuz to Montrichier is very good (it passes the start of the challenging Mont Tendre!)

    The road from Montrichier to Mollendruz is very small and hard to find – the surface is OK but not great
    But it is far more interesting than the main road to Mollendruz

    There were lots of “sexy” bikes today and no-one was really complaining about the road quality.

  3. Will, I’m very happy to read this. Good thinking: ribs hurt for all activities except for cycling. Nice to know that my cycling buddy is A TOUGH BLOKE!

  4. Your bike, especially chain&cogs/rings look very clean , compared to normal :-) Is this the result of the bike shop visit?

  5. I was on the race yesterday too, think I stayed in the second group, the first 4 kilometers of the Mollendruz were the nastiest climb I have ever done as well. Ouch. i was happy just to keep the bike moving forward.

    Thanks for the great site by the way

  6. Good job on the report! I had fun doing the regular lake tour while you were climbing the mountains, but I may do the mountain route next year (I love the REALLY steep stuff). I noticed that you have the exact same frame and paint job as I do. I was probably checking out your bike in the finish area, because I found three other bikes like mine. I’m now sorry that I didn’t know this beforehand, or I would have come over to say Hi. There can’t be many people with Fulcrum wheels on a Trek, so I’ll keep an eye out for you in the future.

  7. Great ride Will.. I’m glad the ribs held up and I’m sure you feel even better after deciding to go ahead with the ride. Glad to see the Trek out… nice bike… and yes it looks clean.

  8. What a lovely ride, and what fortitude you have! Years ago I did a ride up from the lake to Yverdon-les-Bains and then on towards Neuchatel on a bike rented from the Swiss Railway. It had a 7 speed internal hub and was painted to resemble a large Swiss cheese.

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