June 26, 2019

Imagery from Jon Turner and Band of Climbers 

In mid-May we optimistically packed our bags and headed to the French Alps to recon the routes ahead of our first Climbers Escape Cycling Holiday later that month.

Riding in the high mountains in May is always a challenge. Often the major passes are still closed due to snow, plus the weather is much more changeable than during mid-summer, with often warm to hot weather in the valleys, and temperatures just above freezing once you begin to climb over 1500m.


Day 1 //  Staying low on the hidden climbs of the Tarantaise Valley

Starting the day in our Chalet at 1500m, it was cold. Only 4c. We always knew it would be a little warmer once we descended down to the valley, but we didn't realise it would be 20c warmer. Dressed in mostly winter kit, we had to stuff our arm and leg warmers, gilets and gloves into the back pockets of our BoC Jerseys for the day ahead, as it was super warm all day, even up to 1000m on the lower climbs of the valley.

Our route for the day was 80km, with 2600m of climbing. We rode The penultimate climb of the Tour de France in 2019, Notre Dame du Pre, The Cote de Longefoy, and the stunning 10km climb of Hautecour, averaging over 6%. It was a lumpy day, never going higher than 1400m, but with no real flat riding other than a few KM along the lovely flat bike path into Aime along the river route.


Day 2 //  In Search of Snow Walls

The bright sunshine departed the valley on day 2, and would leave behind some menacing dark grey skies for the rest of the trip. Today we were in search of snow walls. The Col du Petit St Bernard was the target. We knew it would be closed to cars, but we wondered how far we could get towards Italy and Italian coffee. Despite freezing temperatures as we rode through the ski resort of La Rosiere, we pushed on, keen to get as far towards the Italian Border as we could.

What greeted us was huge, towering, 10m high walls of hard, packed snow. It was a scene we will never forget.








Day 3 //  Cormet de Roselend. Fermé.

Day three would begin in freezing temperatures as we rode from the chalet, down into Bourg St Maurice before riding the 20km climb of the beautiful Cormet de Roselend. It's a climb which has everything. Switchbacks, forest sections, wide open views, steep segments, and a shallow section halfway in to recover. It's one of our favourite climbs in France. Believing the Col was open, we had hoped to ride over the top, and descend into Beaufort for Coffee, before riding the super tough Col du Pré.

Unfortunately, despite reaching the summit of the Roselend at 1968m, the descent to Beaufort was blocked with 2km of snow that had yet to be cleared. It meant a shorter ride, but again, one which will live long in the memory. Made more memorable via a puncture and a sketchy 20km descent with air seeping from the  rear tyre on one riders bike.









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