Questions about riding from Florence to Bern

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raybo
Posts: 226
Joined: 13 Nov 2007, 6:40pm

Questions about riding from Florence to Bern

Postby raybo » 31 Jan 2019, 3:58pm

I'm planning a ride from Florence, Italy to Bern, Switzerland for May, 2019. My current plan is to ride up the Alps to Sistriere to Briancon to Grenoble to Mont Blanc to Lake Geneva and then on to Bern.

I have lots of questions.

Is Mid to Late May too early for this trip up into the Alps?

Has anyone ridden from Grenoble to Mont Blanc? How difficult it is?

Has anyone ridden from Mont Blanc to Lake Geneva? It looks like a good deal of climbing. Anyone done that?

Instead of riding to Grenoble from Briancon, I could ride southwest down the Durance and then make my way up to Grenoble. Is this a better route?

I can also skip Mont Blanc (I've been there before but not on a bike) and go via Chambrey instead. Is this a better idea?

Any other ideas or thoughts would be appreciated.
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nirakaro
Posts: 970
Joined: 22 Dec 2007, 2:01am

Re: Questions about riding from Florence to Bern

Postby nirakaro » 3 Feb 2019, 1:55pm

Most Alpine passes, except the highest ones, are open by mid-May. The two that will be of concern to you riding from Sestriere to Grenoble – the Montgenevre and the Lautaret – are generally kept open all winter.
Sestriere itself is at over 2000m, so may be an issue. The alternative would be to ride up the Val di Susa from Turin to Bardonecchia, then over the pretty and very quiet col de l'Echelle to Briancon. I rode it on 23 May last year, and there was maybe a hundred yards where I had to wheel the bike through snow on the road. I believe that was a particularly snowy winter.
Briancon to Grenoble is a very pleasant ride. It's about an 800m climb to the col de Lautaret (cafes at the top – nice place to stop for a beer), and then downhill or flat all the way. Very scenic.
Or you could as you say follow the Durance down to Sisteron, also an enjoyable ride, then head up to Grenoble. But it's about three times as far.
I haven't ridden around the Mont Blanc area, but according to my map you can just follow a river all the way down to Geneva, so there needn't be any climbing at all?
Be aware that the climb over the Apennines from Florence will be not much short of 1000m, so just as challenging as many alpine passes.

raybo
Posts: 226
Joined: 13 Nov 2007, 6:40pm

Re: Questions about riding from Florence to Bern

Postby raybo » 3 Feb 2019, 9:26pm

Thanks for the useful information and the suggestion of climbing up via Bardonecchia. I'll look into it.

I also am aware of all the climbing in the Apennines. I have discovered that I can do 4000 feet of climbing two days in a row but need an easy/rest day after. So, I am using that to plan my route through both the Apennines and the Alps.
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nirakaro
Posts: 970
Joined: 22 Dec 2007, 2:01am

Re: Questions about riding from Florence to Bern

Postby nirakaro » 4 Feb 2019, 4:14pm

The Val di Susa is the main transport corridor from France to Italy, so may be a bit full of railways and autostradas for some tastes. I've enjoyed cycling it downhill, but uphill might be a bit of a slog. I've travelled it a few times, and always shamelessly cheated by taking a train from Turin to Bardonecchia. It takes about an hour, and you get off the train at about 1300m, with only about 500m to climb to get you over the pass. :shock: