Discussion in 'Touring and Adventure Cycling' started by Shut Up Legs, 16 Jun 2019.
You'll have to go back and get some photo's.
phew just read the whole thing. amazing! glad you are well and enjoying the trip. Great pictures, memories and achievements!
I put my now Alpine fit legs to the test today with a steep climb. It wasn't supposed to be a strenuous day (I'm planning a big one tomorrow), but even though I only rode 67km compared to 75km yesterday, I did 2480m climbing, while yesterday's was 2020m.
I doubt many have even heard of this one: on the D926 going up and south from Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne to the Col de la Croix de Fer, just past where it splits into the D926 and the D80b (both heading west to the Col de la Croix de Fer), there is a left turn onto the D80 which curves around to head north and over the Col du Mollard. Less than 2km up the D80, I turned right onto the D80a which heads south up through the villages of Montrond and Chalmieu and finally becomes a dirt track 7.5km up from the D926.
This is quite a nice climb, because the sealed road ends at 1905m altitude, and because it heads straight for 3 very distinctive jagged peaks high up in the Aiguilles d'Arves (aiguille = 'needle'). The climb thus has very good views of these peaks to the south, and also of parts of the climb up to the Col de la Croix de Fer to the west.
Fortunately my legs are in excellent shape now, because they had to work for these views! Over the 7.5km of this climb it averages 9% gradient. Also, past Chalmieu the road is very narrow and bumpy, very cracked and with numerous large potholes. This made the climb harder, and I had to be very careful on the descent because it was steep and so required frequent braking, which is tricky when the road is in poor condition.
The photos show the abovementioned needle like peaks, and the view northwest towards the climb up to the Col de la Croix de Fer.
Some of the views I recognize from my trip to Alp d Huez. I suffered gastric issues with taking too much electrolytes on one big day where I with others climbed Croix de fir fien the other side and came back up Glandon before descending back down to Borg Osians. Absolutely knackered, it upset my stomach , interfered with the rest of my weeks tour
I only drink water now. I train for a few months with very little food, cut out sweet stuff and my body becomes accustomed to less demanding less sugar carbs on long rides. I usually just eat ham and cheese sarnies whilst out on a big ride
My latest cycling trip to France reached its pinnacle today, as I finally got the chance to cycle up to the highest sealed mountain pass in the European Alps i.e. the Col de l'Iseran, which at 2764m is 6m higher than the Passo Dello Stelvio in Italy.
I still think Stelvio is the better of the two (I cycled up its west and east sides 2 years ago), but today's ride was very enjoyable.
The logistics were a bit tricky, though: the Vallée de la Maurienne is very long, and the trip from the chalet down to Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne in the valley adds another 10km. It's then a bit over 70km from Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne to Bonneval-sur-Arc, which is where the roughly 14km climb to the col begins.
Fabrice (one half of the couple that own and run Chalet La Tuvière) drove me to Termignon, about 45km up the valley from Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne, and I started the ride there at 0730. About noon, I reached the col after doing about 40km of riding, mostly climbing. I left the col about 1220 and was down in Bonneval-sur-Arc at 1245. It then took me 3 hours to ride about 60km to get down the valley to Saint-Michel-de-Maurienne, thanks to a persistent headwind blowing up the valley, and the presence of 3 climbs which break up the descent down the valley:
1. the Col de la Madeleine (1745m). No, it"s not the same as the famous one at 1994m and north of La Chambre that I visited twice during my time here, but another one with the same name a bit east of Lanslevillard.
2. the Pont du Nant / Saint Anne near Avrieux. This is probably one of the nicer parts of the Vallée de la Maurienne, as this bridge is on one side of the valley, and the Fort Victor-Emmanuel (built in the early 1800s) is on the other, and the valley is very deep at this point, with sheer, imposing cliffs on both sides.
3. a detour off the D1006 (one of the main roads winding through the valley). The detour is west of Freney, goes through the valley-side small town of Saint-Andre, adds a few 100m of climbing, and has been there for weeks due to some dangerous rock falls on the nearby part of the D1006.
Once I got to Saint-Michel-de-Maurienne, Jane (the other half of the La Tuvière couple) picked me up at about 1615, to spare me the final 10km (with 800m climbing) ride back up to the chalet. I still ended up riding 120km with 2150m climbing. I was back at the chalet at about 1700, with aching legs and rear, from many hours on the bike saddle.
The weather was good: no rain, and temperature in the shaded parts of the valley in the morning about 7 degrees, but it was between 15 and 20 at the col: not bad for that high altitude. It was about 30 back in the valley on my way back, though.
Snow patches started at about 2400m, and some large ones were near the road as I neared the col.
The 3 photos show the view down the Bonneval-sur-Arc from the early part of the climb up to the col, some nearby fields and peaks near the top of the climb, and the col itself.
A cycling free day today, but not without some exercise. I walked from Chalet La Tuvière (1390m) to Le Grand Chatelard (2144m), a remote mountain top near the chalet. The walk was my first proper randonnée style walk, and I did it wearing a pair of casual slip-on shoes Obviously, I trod very carefully, because the terrain was extremely steep in parts, with gradients of about 100% i.e. 45 degree slopes. It was also very rocky in parts.
The walk to Le Grand Chatelard and back to the chalet in a clockwise loop was 10.5km with 750m climbing, and took me about 3 hours. The photo shows the view of the Alps from up there.
Think they'll have to stop you posting on this, I want to do it.
This morning, I returned my hire bike to the shop from which I hired it, D'Vélos Maurienne, then Jane from Chalet La Tuvière picked me up and drove me back up there. I was charged a reasonable hire fee, I think, of 25€ per day for the 19 day hire period
This afternoon, I went for one last walk, to the Croix de Chevrotière, a large metal cross that is perched right on the edge of a 900m high cliff that overlooks Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne on its west side. It is only 3.5km from the the chalet, and easy to walk to (unlike yesterday's walk), but with amazing views! Not a walk recommended for anyone with an intolerance of great heights, however. It's a sheer drop, and a long, long way down...
Too late, trip's just about over now
See above post.
They can't take your memories.
Home now, took 1h40min to return from airport (when it should have been 1h at most), another reminder of why I commute to/from work by bicycle every day. The congestion was ridiculously bad
On the good side: instead of the flights being 6.5h and 13.5h, they were less, thanks to a tailwind since the planes were heading east: 6h and 12.5h
Great posts and fantastic photos. I'm envious. That Balcon d'Auris road has been top of my bucket list for years, and I doubt whether I'll ever get it done. Thanks for sharing, and well done.
But 38m lower than the Cime de la Bonnette, ok not technically a pass but still higher, so go back and try harder
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