After a few days in Séguret riding beautiful roads and a warm up climb of Mont Ventoux, we headed three hours north to the central Alps, home of some of the most famous (infamous!) climbs of the Tour: Galibier, Glandon, Télégraphe, Croix de Fer and Alpe d’Huez.
Six stunning days of quintessential Fall weather, no car traffic and hundreds of kilometers of smooth road surface. Our longest day had us making a loop from our home base in Mizoën (on the road to the col du Lauteret and high above the bustle of Bourg d’Oisans) down to pick up the D526 and begin the climb to the Col de la Croix de Fer.
The valley tightens after a hydroelectric lake and wends it’s way through steep rock slide and forested landscape. The road has seen much new pavement recently. Past the village of Le Rivier it opens up into wide open alpage with towering crags overlooking the lake of the Grand Maison – brilliant aqua blue.
The hillsides are dotted with herds of sheep and cattle bleating and neck bells ringing getting in the last high alpine grass before the snow flies. A few more kilometers of 6% grade had us over the Col and a 45 minute descent through small alpine towns renowned for their Beaufort and Gruyère cheeses. Once in the Arc river valley it is a twenty minute ride to pick up the Col du Télégraphe. The climb spends most of it’s length winding through alpine forest in the shade. At the bends there is time for stunning views of the valley below and the road that links this part of France with Italy through the Fréjus tunnel. Views across to the peaks of the Vanoise National Park and it’s glaciers are breathtaking (not that you’ve got any left to spare). We take a food and water break in the ski station town of Valloire before the final climb of the day – the Col du Galibier. A hot bath and great savoyard food awaits us back home in Mizoën. 102 Miles/13,773 feet in elevation gain – A great day!