Cycling the Alps – Day 2

Cycling the Alps – Day 2


Cycling the Alps – Day 2


Alastair McNeill


Cycling the Alps Day 2 along Les Routes Des Grandes Alpes, from Geneva to Nice


Day 2¬†from Clues to Bourg Saint Maurice included the climbs of the Col De La Colombiere (1140m), the Col Des Aravis (540m), the Col Des Saisies (760m) and the Cormet De Roselend (1270m)…


The first few days of the route provide some of the longest most taxing climbs, and as we had a reasonably tight time-frame to complete the journey we decided to try to get as many miles, and vertical meters, as possible under our belts early on.


The Col De Colombiere starts almost immediately out of Clues, starting with a 6 percent gradient that kicks up to closer to 12 percent for the last 3km.


Col De La Colombiere (1140m)
Col De La Colombiere (1140m)


Having ridden in the Alps a few times in the past, and trained steadily in the Kent and Welsh hills, I felt in reasonable shape. However, it is still not really possible to prepare properly for the sheer length of the Alpine climbs. Riding up hill for 19km is just not an option available to British based riders.


So on the first long climb there is a period of adjustment, where you get your head around the scale of things and find the speed and rhythm that you are happy with.


Another new mindset needs to be adopted to deal with the temperature changes you experience in the Alps. It is possible to lose 1 degree celsius per 100m of vertical height gained, so the gilet you put on at the top of the Col seems absurd 20 minutes later in 30 degree heat at the bottom of the valley.


From La Col De Colombiere we descended into St Jean De Sixt and up to the Col Des Aravis, with its tiny working chapel and stalls selling cow hides of all colours and sizes.


Lac De Roselend all to ourselves
The tiny working chapel on La Col Des Aravis


The descent into Flumet is incredible, as was the bakery that we found there to stuff ourselves full of bread, cheese, ham coffee and cake before the Col Des Saisies.


Open road - just the way it should be
Open roads and twisting corners


Victuals - en route...
Victuals – en route…


Les Saisies itself was a fairly nondescript station, and had the slightly sad atmosphere that you tend to find in out of season ski resorts.


Col Des Saisies (760m)
Col Des Saisies (760m)


However, the 17km descent into Beaufort lifted the spirits, and lead into the climb up to the Cormet de Roselend. Though perhaps less well known than other iconic climbs, I was absolutely blown away by the scenery. The Lac de Roselend provided some respite and incredible views part of the way up, though by now fatigue had started to set in and thoughts of finding food and getting off the bike started to creep in.


Cormet De Roselend in 8km
Cormet De Roselend for 8km


I arrived at the top to find that there was nothing there other than a big stone wall and signs down to Bourg Saint Maurice. By that point the weather was turning, Ross was complaining of altitude sickness (low blood sugar as it turned out), and the prospect of riding back down to the cafe 1km from the top was strangely unappealing…

One bike and some signs
The big stone wall

So by the time we arrived in Bourg Saint Maurice, I felt rejuvenated; not that I could feel the tips of my fingers or certain parts of arse, but that was a price worth paying for the days ride we had just completed.




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