My St-Etienne friends Philippe and Xavier were in the neighbourhood and invited me to join them on a superb but challenging loop. Every climb was steep – including the famous Col de Joux Plane.
Col de Joux Plane is one of the few Tour de France climbs where Lance Armstrong suffered, being handily beaten by Virenque in 2000. In 2006, It was also the final climb on the “miracle” comeback day by Landis.
Eric joined us – of course cycling all the way from Geneva. It’s great fun riding with good friends ….. but hard to chat while climbing Joux Plane – steep!
I must admit, I took no photos today up the 1st climb – I was just trying to keep up. For some good photos click here.
One of the things that makes this climb so difficult is the ever changing % grade. The averages are steep enough, but there are some far steeper stretches: at the very beginning, and about half way up.
After a Col sign photo, a short up and down to Col du Ranfolly, we flew down to Morzine and our next target: Col de l’Encrenaz. Sorry, I don’t have % grade data for this climb …. but while a lot easier than Joux Plane, this quiet little road is also very steep at times … with the best views on the descent west.
After descending Encrenaz on a beautiful hidden road, there is a sharp turn that joins the steep hairpins up to Praz-de-Lys ski station …. and further to Col de la Ramaz. We were tired here and Eric kindly (and easily!) rode ahead to play photographer:
Merci Philippe pour l’invitation.