Rescued on Mont du Chat

Mont du Chat View from Mont du Chat

Mont du Chat is a truly epic climb overlooking Lac du Bourget (the biggest lake in France).

Last year Le Cycle magazine called it possibly the toughest climb in France …. for me it’s far too short for that honour, but it’s hard work.

It’s a beautiful deserted route that starts beside Lac du Bourget and just keeps climbing … with ever improving views of the lake and snow covered Alps – Mont Blanc appears with about 3 kms to go.

The plan was to descend the other side and return via the scenic Col du Chat. See here for details on this loop in the other direction including climb details of the also very interesting west side of Mont du Chat – the last two kms on that side average 12%!

Not Good

After photos at the summit – (Alps everywhere!), about 6 kms down the other (west) side my tire blew, I skidded but luckily didn’t fall – slow descending has its benefits. The tire was destroyed and my spare inner-tube was thus useless. I was pretty clueless what to do as I was on the wrong side of a huge mountain, wearing road-bike cleats on the most deserted road.

I hiked up the hill for a while and calculated that I would be at the car an hour after dark.

I called Barry to whine with hopes that he would rescue me. He kindly offered to bring a new tire by motor bike – and we both laughed at me.

Finally a car passed – for the 1st time in my life I hitch-hiked. A very nice old couple offered to rescue me. We chatted away – as I got increasingly car sick as the old guy negotiated the difficult narrow mountain road – but was I ever grateful.

Such nice people – they even thanked me for the scenic tour of the village down below as I got them quite lost on narrow, tiny streets having forgotten where the car was parked. Merci mille fois!


About Author

Happiest while cycling uphill.


  1. I looked at the photo of the tire and cannot figure out what happened to it. Was it just old and worn out? I know the feeling…

    I was riding near La Punt one day and decided to take the gravel bike path. After 30 minutes of joyful riding I put a big chunk of gravel right through the rear tire. End of the ride pretty well. At least you found some friendly locals to help you. This was much better than having to live down the fact that Barry assisted you forever and ever.

  2. sprocketboy: yep not sure what happened … it was old but fine the day before … I last changed the tires in early June (but a big summer). And yes being in debt to Barry would be intolerable.

    Slogfester: While you are correct that I am an old, slow guy …. you need to climb this before too much mocking (the guy in the other post was a STRONG/FIT 71 year old)!

    Glad Thunderbird 6 exists 🙂

  3. Salut Philippe

    Les pneus: Bontrager Lite: neuf début de juin. Ma faute de ne pas les examiner plus souvent.

    Je les ai remplacé avec Schwalbe Stelvio – J’ai plus de confiance en les Allemands 🙂

  4. Ou la la la la la! Glad it wasn’t worse and that you didn’t crash.

    As we say, glad you were able to keep the rubber side down!

  5. Wow, glad you didn’t crash. This could have ended really badly. Lucky that the couple in the car came pass. Bet you never get “bike sick” in these tight turns? The views are magic.

  6. Salut Will,
    Je suis pas sûr d’avoir tout compris, enfin c’est pas clair pour moi !
    Tu n’as pas une meilleure photo, plus grande au moins, car on ne voit pas bien… ?
    On dirait que le pneu était très très usé, je ne connais pas les Bontrager Lite (faible durée de vie, usure très rapide ?). Ou alors, il y a un défaut de fabrication sur le pneu (il manque une couche); c’est ce que me raconte mon frère qui est chez Michelin (désolé, c’est pas allemand, seulement français… mais numéro 1 mondiale du pneu … hé ho quand même hein ! 🙂 )
    En ce qui me concerne, j’ai déjà eu une chambre à air sur le vélo de route qui a explosé (elle a gonflé rapidement, puis a explosé…) en début de sortie (mais loin de la maison, j’avais pas le matériel pour réparer, il a fallu appeler des renforts…).
    Aujourd’hui, je roule avec des Michelin pour le vélo de route, et avec des Schwalbe Marathon pour le Touring; aucun problème.

  7. Salut Bast

    “Click” la photo pour une plus grande taille.

    Je ne suis pas expert, donc je ne sais pas ce qui c’est passé. Les pneus – environ 3000 kms. J’aurais du les changes plus tot.

    Oui – vive les renforts!

    Et Michelin la prochaine fois! Mais les Schwalbe étaient en solde! 🙂

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