Cycle the Alps Traffic-Free: Here’s How


Happy strangers near the top of a car-free Col d’Izoard:

A Future Tour winner

With the Giro just over and the Tour about to start, I imagine it’s a time when many start dreaming about booking a 2013 or 2014 cycling vacation to the Alps. Here’s an idea on how to make a trip better.

Many big and famous passes in the Alps hold days where they close the road to motor traffic. This can vastly improve one’s enjoyment on the bike, especially on a weekend on a famous climb. And especially to avoid hordes of touring motorcycles in August.

At all these events you will find riders of all levels, drink/ food stands, and an unbelievably high level of cheerfulness. These are not cyclosportives/races. No obligatory start times.

Below is a short list of closed climbs in 2012 – darn good list of climbs too. If you know any other events, please add them in the comments.

Savoie-Mont Blanc Region (my back yard)

16/06 : Montée du relais du mont du Chat (REALLY HARD!)
24/06 : Col des Aravis (they sell cow pelts at summit !?!)
30/06 : Col des Glières (famous for National french resistance monument)
08/07 : Col de l’Iseran (highest paved pass in Europe)
10/07 : Col de la Croix-de-Fer (In 2012 TdF)
27/07 : Col de Pierre Carrée (huge but never steep – good for debutants)
29/07 : Col de Joux-Plane (bad for debutants, haha).
04/08 : Col du Glandon (In 2012 TdF)
19/08 : Col de la Ramaz (in 2010 TdF)
23/08 : Col de la Madeleine (in 2012 TdF)
25/08 : Col de Champlaurent & Grand Cucheron (In 2012 TdF)
02/09 : Montée du Cormet de Roselend (graffiti marking where Bruyneel went over cliff)
16/09 : Montée du Semnoz – Col du Châtillon (biggest climb near Lake Annecy)

Hautes-Alpes (France further south)

Lundi 2 juillet de 9h à 12h : Montée de Risoul (hmm don’t know it)
Mardi 3 juillet de 8h à 12h : Col d’Izoard* (the land of Coppi / Bobet)
Mercredi 4 juillet de 10h à 13h : Col Agnel (higher than Glibier!)
Jeudi 5 juillet de 8h à 12h : Col du Galibier* (The Granddaddy)
Vendredi 6 juillet de 9h à 12h : Col du Granon (2nd highest ever TdF finish after Galibier)

Lundi 6 août de 9h à 12h : Montée de Chabre (Will: août = august)
Mardi 7 août de 9h à 12h : Col d’Espréaux
Mercredi 8 août de 9h à 12h : Mont Colombis
Jeudi 9 août de 9h à 12h : Col de Moissières
Vendredi 10 août de 17h à Minuit : Col du Noyer**

Sella Ronda Bike Day (Dolomites)

June 24 & Sept: 23rd

A 55 km high-altitude loop plus roads leading up to it all closed. Loop crosses four of the most beautiful Italian Passos: (Gardena, Pordoi, Sella, and Campolongo) as it circles the Sella. Truly awesome.

Stelvio Bike Day

September 1st

All three sides – including the Swiss side! Stelvio – enough said.

Le Grand Colombier

The Jura giant will make its Tour de France debut in 2012. From the Culoz side there will be several car-free days – not that this great climb ever has much traffic.

Albulapass (Switzerland)

September 2nd

A beautiful climb in eastern Switzerland – details.

More Swiss slow-up days here (most are not mountains, but still fun)


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Happiest while cycling uphill.


  1. Pingback: Col des Glières: Car-Free day : Cycling Challenge

  2. Pingback: Col de l’Iseran – both sides : Cycling Challenge

  3. English Man in Nederlands on

    When does the list of 2013 “road closed days” usually get announced? I am keen to get plans in my diary for next years challenges. Thanks

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