Col, of course, is the French word for mountain pass. For example: Col du Galibier. But there are many other French synonyms for Col. For example: Pertuis, Pas, Forclaz, Cormet, Hourquette, Cou, Porte, Couloir, etc. These are sometimes from old local dialects thus often regional in nature. For example, Forclaz means “narrow gap” and is mainly found in the north French Alps.
In the French Jura mountains, Golet is a synonym to Col. There are dozens of Golets but virtually all are well off the beaten track – almost going unnoticed. The best known might be Golet de la Biche, better known these days as Col de la Biche. It appeared in the 2017 Tour de France. Perhaps it was renamed to Col because it is reasonably well known?
The goal of this ride was to find and ride a bunch of Golets. All are labeled on the map and are just either side of 1000 metres in altitude. Much of this ride is on unpaved roads, occasionally on seemingly abandoned trails/roads. Even the stretches on paved roads are near deserted. This is a sparsely populated region.
If you are a Col hunter, Le Club des Cent Cols has a database with literally thousands of Cols. Many are famous road climbs, many are completely unride-able in the middle of no-where. Some of the Golets in this ride are somewhere in between. Trails/Paths exist, but one needs to search them out. But they are in the database.
I began by climbing the paved road to Col de Colliard. A beautiful, typically quiet Jura climb with plenty of haipins (here’s a four col road bike loop with it. )
Just after the summit, I turned off onto a fun gravel forest road. And from here on ….. lots of Golets!
Here is a great mountain bike loop that climbs ton this plateau without taking the paved road. Plenty of Cols and Golets too 😉 .
As the map shows, I would take a few there-backs in search of Golets or interesting diversions. But all the Golets on the route were fun and worth a visit except perhaps Golet à la Chèvre (an overgrown, abandoned forestry “road”). I’d also suggest skipping the two short there/backs on the map that don’t include Golets. But everything else was great fun.
Due to the recent rain, I would run into quite some mud, and the occasional briefly flooded stretch. But nothing unmanageable.
The most fun “exploring” of the ride was turning off a road at Golet Ravaud and crossing the Golet au Rouge (1010 metres). From Golet Ravaud the little farm road soon ended and the trail briefly looked steep and unpromising, but I persevered and it quickly became a remote, slightly overgrown, but very rideable route. Woohoo.
Don’t let the muddy trail photos dissuade you. Lots of the route was on fun gravel stretches too.
OK, I am lying whenever I say the route was deserted. There were plenty of cows:
I passed ten Golets, and had a few more planned when I found myself unexpectedly on a stretch of the signed Grande Traversée du Jura (GTJ) mountain bike route. So I decided to follow it — and skip a couple of Golets (labeled on map though).
When I finally emerged onto a paved road, I decided to call it a ride, and just descended back down to the start. No doubt, I could have mapped out a route more completely unpaved, but frankly, even the paved roads here are lovely and super quiet.
The Juras are filled with endless trails and old forestry roads – great mountain biking. I have only scratched the surface over the years. But this ride was a fun way to increase my lists of “Cols” visited. Oops, I means Golets. 🙂
A 3D video of ride: