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!
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.
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.