Total tour distance: 310 miles
Daily tour distance: 52 miles
Difficulty: 100 / 100
Perhaps no other region in Europe ignites the cyclist’s imagination like the French Alps. Home to some of the most famous road biking ascents on the planet, the Alps are a “must see” for every cyclist. Legendary “cols” (mountain passes) scale these often snow capped summits, inviting us to try our fitness against these precipitous mountains. Our reward: twisty, winding and exhilarating descents into alpine meadows that can extend for over 25 miles.
BIKE TOUR HIGHLIGHTS
- Challenging yourself by cycling Alpe d’Huez
- Riding other famous climbs, such as the Col de la Madeleine, Col des Aravis, Col du Glandon, Col de la Croix de Fer, Col du Télégraphe and the Col du Galibier
- Enjoying the amazing alpine views
- Savoring the locally produced cheeses and meats
- You’ll ride roads made famous every summer by France’s elite races
- Challenging cycling routes for avid cyclists
- 100% GPS routes (bike GPS provided for your use during trip).
- Three Star Accommodations
- Most Meals Included (breakfast every day, some lunches, and most dinners)
- Fully supported / guided tour with van and trip leader(s)
- No shuttling required to/from the ride. You can always ride door to door if you wish. Van support always an option too.
- Small groups (max 10) for a more personalized experience
- Maximum flexibility of when you travel. You pick the dates you'd like to go and we arrange it for you.
BIKE TOUR OVERVIEW AND DAILY ITINERARY
We recommend to visit the Alps in June, once the passes are free from snow, the temperature is still moderate and the tourist crowds have yet to descend on the region. It’s one of the best times to visit. Unlike some of the other In Situ bike tours, we’ll divide our week between three different lodgings. Due to the geography (the long, steep climbs), this gives us greater access to even more of the famous mountain passes.
We’ll start our week in the former Winter Olympic town of Albertville. On day 4, we’ll ride to our hotel in Saint Jean de Maurienne, with the route including the Col du Glandon and the Col de la Croix de Fer. Later in the week, we work our way south to the village of La Grave, superbly situated between the infamous Alpe d’Huez and the legendary Col du Galibier.
After we meet in Grenoble, we’ll shuttle north to Albertville. There will be time to assemble your bikes, have a light lunch and discuss the week ahead, before we head out for a light spin in the surrounding hills. Today’s ride is a chance to loosen up the legs, meet your fellow travelers and make sure your bike is ready for the week ahead. This evening, we’ll have a group dinner at the hotel. Ride: approximately 38 km (23 miles).
There’s no time like the present to start into the famous cols. Today’s ride will take us on a loop up and over the Col de la Madeleine. Its stats are impressive: almost 25 km (15.5 miles) long and climbing up to it’s peak at an even 2000 meters (6561 feet), it’s average gradient is 6.3%. From the top, we’ll descend into another valley to the south, then return towards Albertville for the evening. Tonight’s meal will be together as a group. Ride: 115 km (71 miles) with 2888 m (9475 ft) of climbing.
A fantastic day lies ahead, with the climbing starting right from the beginning of the ride. We’ll ride northwest out of Albertville, through small villages as we climb up and over the Plateau des Teppes. Descending through the town of Faverge, we first ride up the smaller Col du Marais as we get our legs ready for the larger and more formidable Col de la Croix-Fry (12.8 km / 7.9 miles, 1467m / 4813 feet high, average grade 6.6%). The fourth climb of the day is up next, the Col des Aravis. Used frequently in the Tour de France, this mountain pass is also the border between the Savoie and Haute-Savoie Departments. Stop to take a picture on the top, before descending back towards Albertville. But don’t worry, your climbing is not quite over, there are still a couple of “little” ascents before you’re back in town. Dinner tonight will be on your own. Ride: 97 km (60 miles) with 2950 m (9678 feet) of climbing.
Today, we’ll cover part of a route that has been used by the pro peleton during the Tour several times in the past. Heading out of Albertville towards the southeast, we’ll ride up the Maurienne valley before attacking the Col du Glandon and Col de la Croix de Fer. Starting in St. Etienne, we’ll begin our beautiful ascent of the Col du Glandon (21.3 km / 13.2 miles, 1924m / 6,312 feet high, average grade 6.9%). We’re barely off the top of the Glandon, when the short but scenic climb up to the Col de la Croix de Fer begins. From the Glandon, this climb is only about 3 kilometers at about 6.5%, but it’s summit is still noteworthy. Before today’s ride is over, enjoy a long and twisty descent into the town on Saint Jean de Maurienne. It’s here that we’ll spend the evening. Dinner tonight will be as a group in town. Ride: 104 km (65 miles) with 2900 m (9514 feet) of climbing.
Three big cycling legends lie in store for you today: the Col du Télégraphe, the Col du Galibier and the Col du Lautaret. Heading east, up-valley out of Saint Jean de Maurienne, we’ll begin climbing in earnest in St. Michel de Maurienne. First up will be the Col du Télégraphe (11.8 km / 7.3 miles, 1566m / 5,137 feet high, average grade 7.3%). Before we even fully descend off of the Télégraphe, we’ll begin our assault on the Col du Galibier (18.1km / 11.2 miles, 2645m / 8677 feet high, average grade 6.9%). Fortunately for our legs, the last col is the Col du Lautauret, which is minor from this direction, on our descent off the Galibier. Dinner tonight will be at our inn, together as a group. Ride: 67 km (42 miles) with 2455 m (8054 ft) of climbing.
Alpe d’Huez awaits! Today is the day to test your legs against the infamous climb. You may be surprised however at how you fare against this mythical ascent. With an average gradient of 7.9% and 13.5 km (8.3 miles), you’ve already conquered longer climbs this week. But the Alpe is never to be taken lightly. It’s 21 switchbacks are relentless. The record was set in 1997 at 37m 35s, so you can compare your time against it. Once at the top, you can celebrate with your fellow cyclists and soak in the glory of making it to the top. We’ll descend on a smaller, alpine road with incredible vistas of the valley floor below. For those of you who want more climbing in your day, you can add on Les Deux Alpes, a category 1 climb just across from Alpe d’Huez. Our Farewell dinner tonight will be at our inn. Ride: 76 km (47 miles) with 1965 m (6447 feet) of climbing; with Les Deux Alpes option: 96 km (59 miles) with 2573 m (8441 feet) of climbing.
We enjoy one last alpine breakfast together before saying “au revoir” to the mountains and taking your private shuttle back to Grenoble for departure.
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