Author: Will

Happiest while cycling uphill.

It’s getting colder and the high Alps has fresh snow. With lots of lousy weather in the immediate forecast, my goal was to profit from a sunny day and enjoy some close-up views of Mont Blanc. Col du Joly (1989 metres) is paved on its west side from Beaufort. But I love the unpaved north-east side starting from Les Contamines. Les Contamines was also the start point for my amazing 3-day mountain bike “Tour of Mont Blanc Unpaved” with my friend Alfie. Details here Leaving Les Contamines, the route quickly joins a steep, unpaved farm road. As the map profile…

Read More

Lac du Bourget is the largest and deepest lake entirely in France. It is surrounded by the Alps and Jura mountains including Mont du Chat, one of the toughest road bike climbs in France. Doreen and I would ride the bike path on the south east side of the lake and then visit the very scenic Col du Chat above. See here for a detailed post mapping and describing a bunch of cycling climbs and loops in the Lac du Bourget region. We started on the south edge of the lake. There is a segregated bike path that reaches Aix-les-Bains…

Read More

Originally, I had planned to see the Tour de France today. But I am feeling un-social lately. So instead I mountain-biked up to some cols above/between Megève and Col des Saisies. The only thing spoiling the glorious silence? A bunch of damn (Tour de France) helicopters in the distance. 🙂 This challenging route visits 6 cols (all labeled on 2nd map at very bottom). The first two (Golet, 1480m and Col du Drayon, 1517m) I had never visited before. So there are a couple of very steep, difficult stretches early on as I tried to link them to the upper…

Read More

I often call the Vercors the most under-rated cycling region in the Alps. The massif to the south-west of Grenoble doesn’t have the highest roads in the Alps, but it is full of stunning gorges and mind-blowing cliff stretches. Here are ten route suggestions: Note: Many of the routes on the map below overlap. If you zoom the map and hover your mouse on a route it should be highlighted. Plus every ride discussed below will include a link to a more detailed post and map. #1 Combe Laval / Col de la Battaille Loop Blue route on map Combe…

Read More

I don’t know why I don’t do more rides-to-see-the-sunrise-at-a-mountain-summit.** **I do know: It requires a very early start! 🙂 For a good summit sunrise ride the mountain has to have great views towards the rising sun. This disqualifies a surprisingly large number of big climbs. But one of Mont Salève’s two summits is named “Panorama des Alpes” and has clear eastward views. My friend Tim and I had been planning the ride for a long time and decided that the weather was now perfect. We would climb the ultra steep NE side from Le Coin, the same side that our…

Read More

This is a challenging route that climbs up to Col de la Biche and then traverses to Grand Colombier primarily on gravel or trails. Starting beside the Rhône river, I would climb the first few paved kilometres of the super-steep east side of Col de la Biche, but turned onto a gravel “road” more than 10 kms from its summit. It’s a decent gravel road but at times very difficult with all the sliding little stones on such a steep climb. I loved the solitude. I guarantee you won’t see a soul on this stretch. See here and here for…

Read More

A fun heat-wave ride. It’s a good route when the best hairpins of the day aren’t Les Lacets de Montvernier. The Maurienne Valley is filled with famous cycling climbs (Galibier, Glandon, Madeleine, Iseran, Croix de Fer, Mont Cenis, etc). But the goal today was to visit something new for me: Col de Sapey. It’s fully paved, but not well known. A 10 kilometre climb with perhaps 20 hairpins. And I wouldn’t see a single car. Zero. See here for 15 rides in the Maurienne Valley. I’ll add this ride to the post soon. I started at the base of the…

Read More

A route planning tip: Sometimes I just look for a bunch of hairpins on a map: My plan was to ride up to Col de la Madeleine via an unpaved hairpin-filled forest road north of La Chambre. This would lead to the high ridge above the standard Madeleine road – only joining the paved road at its last hairpin. In the image below, my route is red (there is also a detailed map at the bottom of this post). The blue route shows the two paved ways up this south side of Col de la Madeleine. The paved option on…

Read More

Here’s another excellent paved cycling climb with an extension that requires a mountain bike. The route includes four cols: (a little known Col de la Forclaz, Col de la Colombière, La Clef des Annes, and Col des Annes). I started by climbing the paved classic north side of Col de la Colombière from Scionzier. See here for the much steeper alternate way up the north side via Col de Romme. Note, when you look at the map, you’ll see that after ten kilometres, I made a brief detour. I basically followed a steep but good quality hiking trail for a…

Read More

“Just for Fun” Communication towers are often at the top of great cycling climbs. It makes sense, as it’s helpful for them to be high and have clear views in many directions. And they need a road up, so they can be maintained. Perfect. My criteria for the best communication tower climbs: Big and challenging. Dominating views, hopefully 360 degrees. Visible from afar/below. This list is not even remotely complete. Feel free to add your favourite in the comments. Here are my favourites #1 Puy-de-Dôme The legendary dormant volcano Puy-de-Dôme is the most famous cycling climb in the Massif Central.…

Read More