Yes, I am still here! My first adventure not starting from home since the end of the most recent French lockdown. The route? Col de la Colombière “the hard way” via Romme.
These will be the feature two climbs during stage eight of the 2021 Tour de France. See bottom of post for the stage profile.
The climb to Romme is steep! It begins as a little cliff road right beside the autoroute. The moment the road turns up there is this welcoming sign:
The local joke of course is “Tous les chemins mènent à Romme” (All roads lead to Romme). 🙂
There are perhaps 15 hairpins on this challenging, quiet 9 km climb.
Note, it’s possible to go above Romme to 2000 metres (Tête de la Sallaz). But it requires a mountain bike. See here for a map and old ride report.
Col de la Colombière has made many Tour appearances, but 2009 was the first time it took this “3rd way” via Romme.
From Romme (1300 metres), one can just about see Col de la Colombière far in the distance:
The route descends Romme for several kilometres and joins the main route (part of the Route des Grandes Alpes) at Le Reposoir. Here it is 7 more challenging kilometres uphill.
The final 3 kilometres get steeper on a fun near-cliff road. Regardless of wind direction ….. it is always against the wind. 🙂
I saw quite a few cyclists:
Me, waving at the camera!:
Finally, as the map below shows, I simply descended down the main north side back to the start.
This was hard work but fun. It’s been too long between adventures. I hope everyone is well and getting vaccinated soon. Doreen and I received our second doses last week!
For gravel fans: See this incredible route that climbs Colombière, briefly descends, traverses unpaved to the amazing Col des Annes, then returns to Reposoir on difficult back valley trail. Superb.
Stage 8, upcoming 2021 Tour de France:
Watching Julian Allaphilippe power his way up there in 2018 TDF is one of my most favorite cycling memories. As you said Will, this ride is a tough one and the Romme part hurts a lot more than taking off from Scionzier. The first km is just a beast
Glad to see you back in action Will. Hoping to get back to the French Alps and Mont Ventoux this August.
One advantage of your diminished post output is that it doesn’t make me unhappy to live in a pancake flat country every time I get one…. 🙂
Great!! The gpx!! So I can try if I can get up virtually…..
Is it your registration? Do you use 1 sec. or smart?
I’m exploring what’s best…. Regs are often very jumpy. The interval is probably less responsible for that than the gps signal.
Of course I can draw the route myself….. then I can leave the middle downhill out….
I will not ride the 2nd one of course, apart from 10 min. cooldown. I don’t have to get back home, I am there all the time… Haha.
You should be able to download the gpx file here: https://www.strava.com/activities/5366204925
It used 1 second recording.
Tks Will! I had found it in/through yr perfect info yes! Rode it. Unfortunately found the usual jumpiness. 23 & 27% up peaks, lots of descending and flat sections.
Funny the Romme lies in the village, 35 m. lower than 1,5k further up. I stopped there. I’m going to try to improve the file. Did the elevation data in it come from a barometer?
Great article Will.
Where would you recommend staying, to ride this route, is it possible if staying in Annecy or would it be better to stay close to the start?
I am not great at hotel recommendations but the start of the Romme and north side of Colombière around Cluses and Scionzier are not very touristy. More of an industrial valley. But Annecy is not that close this side of the climb either. Maybe Le Grand Bornand? Cycle up top of south side of Colombière descend to Cluses, and reclaim via Romme?
The start of Romme is intimidating, the way the road is cut into the side of the mountain. The Romme/Colombiere combination is as hard as anything in the French Alps save giants like Galibier and Isere. It’s just at a lower altitude so it might not seem so difficult but I found Romme to be really tough.
Someone asked about where to stay. If you don’t have a car you could stay in Cluses, not the prettiest town but some cheap hotels and a train station. If you do have a car, pretty much anywhere (Samoens/Sallanches/Chamonix/Le Grand Bornand etc…)