Base for climbing TdF mountains

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
jawaka
Posts: 543
Joined: 6 Dec 2007, 2:46pm

Re: Base for climbing TdF mountains

Post by jawaka »

I reckon St Jean de Maurienne is a great base as it is in easy reach of glandon, madeleine, croix de fer and CdF also via col du mollard. the Iseran is possible in avery long day, but there are local trains to Modane (so you can just take a bike on without booking) which makes a shorter day to the Iseran but also makes Col du mont Cenis too. Definitely a reason to go are the Lacets de Montvernier

http://inrng.com/2014/10/roads-to-ride- ... ntvernier/

the town is a lot nicer than Bourg d'Oisans , a working town rather than touristy and a small cathedral with interesting carvings on the misericords. I stayed at Hotel Europe, the owner is a bike nut
I stayed at hotel Bernard about 5 years ago. Simple hotel but all clean and very reasonable
http://www.hotelbernard.org/
jawaka
Posts: 543
Joined: 6 Dec 2007, 2:46pm

Re: Base for climbing TdF mountains

Post by jawaka »

these are cathedral carvings if that kind of thing interests you.

http://ica.princeton.edu/misericordia/m ... ite&page=1

also a local digestif is made in the town Le Mont Corbier. Recommended. Take a bottle home to taste the alpine herbs again
http://lespoilusdemalouisiane.centerblo ... nt-corbier
jamesofyorkshire
Posts: 325
Joined: 14 Jul 2007, 11:39am

Re: Base for climbing TdF mountains - some feedback.

Post by jamesofyorkshire »

We ended up staying at La Grave for a week....just up from the tunnel that's closed indefinately, causing the TdF to be re-routed this year. Hence there was no through traffic, very quiet & peaceful and beautiful. There wasn't much open but that didn't bother us. We had a nice apartment with balcony for next to nowt.
I climbed the Col du Colombiere on the drive down from Annecy.
The Galibier opened (via the tunnel) the day before we arrived so we drove that way to La Grave (as the Grenoble-Briancon main route is closed).
The second week we moved over to the Maurrienne Valley, which is indeed very handy for a lot of climbs but has constant noise from the roads and rail line.

I managed to do the Telegraph, Galibier, Izoard, La Sarrenne, Alpe d'Huez, Chaussy (via the Lacets), Glandon & Croix de Fer, Mont Cenis.

The third week we were based in Avignon from where I 'did' Ventoux twice.

Really enjoyed the loooong climbs. Two tips to anyone not too confident about doing the cols...lose as much weight as you can, and put low gearing on your bike! I swapped my 30 cassette for a 32 and it helped a lot on the steeper climbs (compact up front)..
I'm a hard-drinking 55-year old of reasonable fitness who carries about 15lbs too much excess weight.....and though nervous on the first couple of climbs, really got stuck into them when I got my confidence. The hills are not that steep, but they go on FOREVER!
jawaka
Posts: 543
Joined: 6 Dec 2007, 2:46pm

Re: Base for climbing TdF mountains

Post by jawaka »

I prefer St jeanne de Maurienne; partly that's because I go on the train and Bourg d'Oisans isn't on a rail line. Both Hotel stBernard and Hotel Europoe are nice, inexpensive hotels, Bourg d'Oisans is a bit touristy.
Besides the climbs mentioned, you can also do a 2nd way up the Croix de Fer via the Col Du Mollard; I haven't counted the hairpin bends, there is something like 35 of them and the road is very quiet.
The lacets de Montvernier are amzing

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=160qwlWGyWU

It ends up at the Col du Chaussy; if you are on a wide tyred bike you can continue on a rough stony path, but the hairpins are the best bit.

There are local trains running along the valley so you don't need to book,you can then get the train to Modane which puts the Col du Mont Cenis and the Col de L'Iseran in easy reach and saves the ride on the boring valley road
jamesofyorkshire
Posts: 325
Joined: 14 Jul 2007, 11:39am

Re: Base for climbing TdF mountains

Post by jamesofyorkshire »

You can also do the Madelaine from Chaussy (if you have the legs).

Yes, don't miss the Lacets if you're in the neighbourhood. Amazing.

Good point about the train running through the valley. Very handy...like you say - way better than cycling the valley road.

No need to stay in St Jean though, lots of small villages where you can find rooms & apartments (we stayed in St. Remy for example).
pwa
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Joined: 2 Oct 2011, 8:55pm

Re: Base for climbing TdF mountains

Post by pwa »

I once stayed in a tiny village called L'Enversin dOz, near Vaujany, and one morning I got out of bed, strode onto the balcony and all I could hear was the sound of bells on the collars of goats being moved to the pasture. The air was cool and fresh, so I put my kit on, got on the bike and freewheeled down the hill to the base of the southern ascent of the Col de la Croix de Fer, and I was having a café au lait in the café at the top by about 9.30. Perfect.
jawaka
Posts: 543
Joined: 6 Dec 2007, 2:46pm

Re: Base for climbing TdF mountains

Post by jawaka »

Another two reasons to go for St Jean de Maurienne: the local liqueur "Mont Corbier". Made with Alpine herbs, take a bottle (or more) home to remind you of your visit. The factory runs tours but I think times open are limited. Like a lot of local drinks in France you can't get them other than the region. I asked for it in Avignon, but they'd never heard of it.

If you like history there is a small cathedral at St J de M. Worth seeing for the carvings

http://ica.princeton.edu/misericordia/m ... ite&page=6
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Godlykepower
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Joined: 10 Mar 2011, 10:32pm
Location: Royston, Hertfordshire

Re: Base for climbing TdF mountains

Post by Godlykepower »

I'm popping down to the Alps for a couple of weeks from the 3rd of August, to fulfil a life-long dream of riding up some of the mountains made famous in Le Tour.

As my missus is not much of a cyclist & really hates any sort of hill on the few occasions I can convince her to join me on a ride, she doesn't want to come...which actually suits me just fine, I can just enjoy myself & my riding without having to worry about her.

Anyway, I've discovered this thread & it has been helpful in my planning.

I have a couple of questions though:

As much as I want to take the Colnago, I wont be able to manage the gears on the hills, so I have opted for my Croix de Fer with a 50/34 & 12-28. That should be okay, shouldn't it?
I will mainly be camping, with a hotel or B&B every few days. Kit-wise, I'm taking one of my roomier tents (a 3 person North Face,) sleeping bag, sleeping mat & cooking gear, plus other basic camp accoutrements. Riding gear, I'll take two pairs of bibs, two shirts, two socks, gloves & a cap.

What else should I be taking? It's all going in a car, so I have plenty of space.

I won't have to wear a helmet anywhere will I?

Route-wise, I've taken some of the suggestions on board from here & will be spending a few days at both Bourg & St. Jean Maurienne. The routes I have in mind are - Alpe d'huez, Croix de Fer, Glandon & Lacets Montvernier. I will move on after these to try my legs on Mont Ventoux.

Are there any other essential rides from this area that I have missed out? Would it be biting off more than I can chew if I went the long way home & went via the Pyrenees to have a bash at Tourmalet, or should I just stick to one area?

Thank you!
I don't have a gambling problem. I'm winning, and winning is not a problem for me. That's like saying AC/DC have an awesomeness problem.
Chat Noir
Posts: 220
Joined: 22 Jan 2010, 8:52pm
Location: York

Re: Base for climbing TdF mountains

Post by Chat Noir »

Depends how fit you are. I use a triple and usually use the lowest gear (53-39-30 front, 12 - 30 cassette) at some point, but then I'm also carrying luggage on the bike. Always a good challenge to see if you can avoid using the lowest gear! For me the hardest aspect is adjusting to spending one or two hours pedalling uphill without a break: physically demanding but as well you have to keep your head together for a long time. Go at your own speed.

Cap on the way up, helmet on the way down. Gilet, or something warmer, for long descents. Depending what time you're setting off you might want arm or even leg warmers. Warm clothing advisable for evenings - I'd take a down gilet, if not full down jacket.

Enjoyed watching Alpe d'huez at the Tour today. Lucky enough to do it last year, on way back to Grenoble, although wasn't sure where the route ended. A friendly local assured me I had to continue through the village and on to the top of the hill, so I did. When it stopped going up, I found a hut and a group of mountain bikers and not a lot else ...
Dawes Galaxy 1979; Mercian 531 1982; Peugeot 753 1987; Peugeot 531 Pro 1988; Peugeot 653 1990; Bob Jackson 731 OS 1992; Gazelle 731 OS Exception 1996; Dolan Dedacciai 2004; Trek 8000 MTB 2011; Focus Izalco Pro 2012
jamesofyorkshire
Posts: 325
Joined: 14 Jul 2007, 11:39am

Re: Base for climbing TdF mountains

Post by jamesofyorkshire »

The top of the Alpe d'Huez climb is not indicated too well...not at all when I went up a couple of months ago. I also had to ask a local where the 'official' end was...but anyway, when you get up to the village, you keep going, under the bridge....keep going.....and bear right then left at the roundabout. There's a sign showing the end of the climb on the left and a place to stand and get your picture taken opposite side of the road, on the right (kind of!). Suffice to say, the 'end' is not where you think it's going to be when you're doing what you think is the last stretch coming into the village! You have at least another kilometer, so don't go mad!

You'd have to be a lot fitter than I if you can get up these big climbs with a 28 cassette. I fitted a 32 especially for the trip in the hills. I tried not to use the 32 but instead use the second gear - which is a 28....but unless you can ride out the saddle for long stretches, a lower gear (30 or 32) is recommended as a back up.

As chat noir says....keeping your head together for 2 hours steady grind without respite is something you should be prepared for. I cycle in the hilly Yorkshire Dales and think I can handle hills (slowly, at my own pace)....but we don't have anything where you can't have a rest after 20 mins of effort.

After my 2 weeks in the mountains, my fitness definitely went up a level. I found that daily 2 hour grinds are far better training than daily 4 hour ups and downs at home. I also found my confidence soared after I bagged my first couple of cols.......not sure if it would have been so high though without knowing I had that 32 cassette to fall back on if needs must!
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