Author: Will

Happiest while cycling uphill.

Colle del Nivolet, in Piemonte, is my favourite paved climb in the Alps. It is so beautiful. But it’s a dead-end. However, it is possible – with some serious hiking – to reach it from the back Aosta side. The summit of Colle del Nivolet (2612m) is the border between the Piemonte and Valle d’Aosta regions of Italy. It’s the 9th highest paved road in the Alps. See here for the 20 highest paved climbs in the Alps. This was a two day trip and I’ll split it into two posts: Day 1: Climbing the Aosta side of Nivolet and…

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A route planning secret? I scan maps looking for hairpin-filled roads. This ride has 50 or so full 180 degree hairpins going up, roughly half paved, and half gravel. I am going to divide this post into two parts. First, the very good 16 kilometre paved climb to Dottan. Second, the gravel extension to two much higher cols. This climb is located a few kilometres north of the start of Val Thorens. Or just south of the start of the north side of Col de la Madeleine. The Paved Climb On the map below, the entire main loop is paved,…

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This ride is much tougher than is suggested by its 45 kms and 1430 metres of ascent. Mostly slippery, steep, mostly rideable, fun trails. See here for very good road bike route that includes the first 3 cols of this rideCessens, Sapenay, Clergeon, and a nice gorge. I started in Rumilly, at the start of the 15 km paved east side climb to Col du Clergeon. I soon left the route, taking a small road that soon became a gravel farm road. The first few unpaved kilometres were a touch “unused,” but hang in there as the route becomes much…

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This ride explores some lesser known climbs starting from Lake Annecy and heading south. Road bikers don’t leave yet. While this loop requires a mountain bike and some pushing, it begins with a nice 10 kilometre paved climb that you probably don’t know. I started beside the lake immediately jumping on the wonderful bike path that heads all the way to Albertville. As the map below shows, I followed the bike path for approximately 10 kilometres. Just before it passes through the old train tunnel I quit the path and took a little road right/west that immediately heads into the…

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Just west of Geneva are the highest peaks in the Jura mountains. On the shoulder of these peaks are a couple of cols reachable by bike on wonderful gravel forestry roads. See here for the highest paved climbs in the Jura mountains. Starting from Thoiry, the route takes a trail and quiet roads to the lookout point at Tiocan (860 metres). There is parking and a restaurant at this hiking trail-head. I’d turn left here and never see another car. It’s a long enjoyable traverse west in the mountain forest. Often not too steep, but usually heading higher. After 18…

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The Alpine borders between Italy and France are lined with forts and high altitude military roads – most dating from the end of the 19th century or World War 1. Forte Jafferau (2805 metres) is the highest Fort in Italy and the second highest in Europe. It was built between 1896 and 1898. It was bombarded and largely destroyed as part of the peace treaty ending World War 2. The highest Fort in the Alps is atop Mont Chaberton (3131 metres) – cycling details here. This is my third time cycling Monte Jafferau. This time via the old Galleria (tunnel)…

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It was a road closed, bike-only day for Col du Glandon and Col de la Croix de Fer. Fantastic. But the best part of this route is above these famous roads. I cheated by starting half way up Glandon, just before the road closure as I wanted to save my legs for the higher challenge. I love Glandon, especially the final three kilometres. The hairpins and views are special. I would then go over the top and cycle the final three kilometres to Col de la Croix de Fer (2064m) . I’ve written many times about this road. See here…

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“Ride the Alps” is a series of non-competitive bike days in Switzerland sponsored by Switzerland Tourism and a sporting goods company. Yesterday I attended the “Ride the Alps Vaudoises” day (Vaud is a canton is the western, French-speaking part of Switzerland). See here for more of their upcoming events. The route was a short but scenic 47 kilometre loop reeking of Alain’s local knowledge: tiny paved roads, three cols, avoiding traffic, and beautiful Swiss views. I had never ridden the featured climb: Col de la Pierre de Möelle (1657m), so I was excited to visit. Given the current heat-wave, I…

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Col de l’Iseran is the highest paved col in Europe (2764 metres). It’s a beautiful road, but similar to many famous passes along the Route des Grandes Alpes it can suffer from loud summer traffic: motorcyclists love this road. But once a year, the road is closed to motorised traffic. It is tough to explain how quiet and relaxing these car-free days are. See here for almost 100 car-free bike days in 2019. This is our 4th time attending a Col de l’Iseran bike day. It’s just too great an opportunity to pass up. The closures included all the best…

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It can be very annoying to drive the Autoroute with me. I keep pointing up and saying “Col du XYZ is up there,” or “look an amazing cliff road over there, ” etc. Recently driving south of Annecy, I realised I knew nothing about the mountain stretch south of Le Semnoz, but just before Mont Revard. Not anymore. WARNING: This ride is mainly gravel up high. Sometimes trails. There is some pushing and one place where I briefly carried the bike. But mostly it is very rideable. The route visits three cols: Golet du Pont (1050m), Col du Pré Bernaud…

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