Map first today as I thought the elevation profile was pretty cool.
The biggest ride of the year so far. A loop around Lake Annecy, +100 kms, over three beautiful climbs. The big Cols are still three months from opening, but March and April can be the best time to do small and medium climbs in the Alps as the weather can be warm, the roads fine, and the surrounding mountains stunningly snow covered.
We started along the Lake Annecy bike path (map at bottom) and at Faverges turned right to climb Col de Tamié (my first time). Maybe 9 kms and not difficult, but a very pleasant road. Well worth the detour.
Near the top is the beautiful Abbaye de Tamié, famous for it’s cheese. This Cistercian Abbey (photo below) was founded in 1132! Wow.
We descended down Tamié and then headed for Marlens to climb Col de l’Epine (not to be confused with the like-named Col near Chambéry).
I really like this climb. It’s only about 7kms averaging 7% but this quiet route climbs up the side of the mountain with incredible views below and in the distance. And over the top leads to a seemingly secret little paradise valley. Sorry, no photos as I was trying not to lose eric by too much – he flew up here.
I realized at this point that I needed to eat and drink more as we had now been riding for over 3 hours and were approaching the brutally steep Col de la Forclaz de Montmin.
I love the south side of this climb. It’s not too long, but incredibly steep and truly beautiful. My measured pace in the earlier climbs paid dividends and I was pretty pleased with how I felt.
Forclaz means “narrow gap” and there are several Col de la Forclaz in Haute Savoie. Today’s climb is perhaps the best of the bunch (the Swiss may disagree) and was in the 2007 Dauphiné Libéré and 2004 Tour de France (the 1st mountain stage I ever watched live).
I asked my domestique Eric, to double back after finishing the climb (well before me) to snap a couple of photos. His photography skills continue to improve!
The treat at the end of this climb is the magnificent views of Lake Annecy below. There is a take off point for hang-gliding and parapenting …. and as we arrived, off he jumped.
It’s a fast, fun descent back towards Annecy …. to finish my first metric century of the year. A dream circuit.