A superb loop through the Jura mountains – including eight Cols (three for the first time).
There were two principal climbs today.
First, at the very start, Col de la Belleroche (which passes Col de Colliard 2/3′s of way up). This is a beautiful 9 km climb through the woods, with distant views of lake Nantua. I didn’t see a single car.
After a 30 km stretch, mainly downhill (plus a quick visit to Col de la Cheminée), the second challenge: Col de Mazières. The start of this climb at the entrance to Sutrieu is very difficult to find. It’s a sharp right turn on a tiny forestry road. If you see a white and green sign 30 metres after the turn saying “private road – use at own peril, etc”, then you have found it. If you pass the Mayor – you have missed it.
The next long stretch of this route is on fantastic, tiny, deserted, single-lane forestry roads. The six kms to Col de Mazières is steep. Near the top, I found a Col de la Clye sign, but despite searching along a couple of trails and having it marked on my GPS, there was no Col de Mazières sign.
I used a road bike without too much problem, but a few short stretches are pretty rough, especially descending Col de la Clye.
Continuing on tiny roads, I made a couple of quick detours. First to Col de la Rochette (this is a great climb from Ruffieu), and up a very steep little road to Col de la Croix de l’Orme.
Some serious searching found that there is a Col sign for Croix de l’Orme – hidden on the left in some bushy scrub.
The hard work was almost finished. Still, the next 30 kms were generally uphill, with visits to Col du Cruchon, Col de Pisseloup, and then a long stretch back up Col de Colliard (and a descent to the finish).
This is a great cycling region, with beautiful, almost car-free roads, and pleasant cow-filled scenery.