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  1. #1
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    Bourg d'Oisans Route info

    I'll be there in early June and am looking for some ride suggestions. I have one afternoon, followed by two full days. For the quick afternoon, I was going to do the classic ride up to Alpe d'Huez and maybe the Sarenne if time permits. On the other days:

    1. I was hoping to do Croix de Fer-Galibier loop, but I suspect the Galibier will still be closed. So maybe the Croix de Fer-St Jean de Maurienne-Glandon loop? Or is there something else similar in challenge to recommend?

    2. On the second full day, I thought maybe I would drive over to St Jean and do the Col du Chaussy and then Col de la Madeleine to the top and back. Or maybe I get a wild hair and drive down and do the Ventoux. How far is that drive from Oisans? Is it worth it?

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    I don't know that I can help too much, except to say that Galibier is sometimes open in late May. Do it if you can.

    Other rides in the area include: Les Deux Alpes, which isn't all that great scenery-wise (compared to other options). The ride up to La Berarde is spectacular. You could also ride to Briancon and back (Col de Lauteret), but it's not the greatest either.

    An excellent resource on the Alps: http://www.grenoblecycling.com/the-Alps.htm

    Pass conditions: http://www.infotrafic.com/route.php?...=cols.php?ALPN

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    Quote Originally Posted by steeleman View Post
    ... St Jean and do the Col du Chaussy and then Col de la Madeleine to the top and back.
    Col du Chaussy ... Thanks for mentioning it -- not something I'd thought of trying before. I've seen the old tight switchbacks to Montvernier many times from the highway, but it didn't occur to me that they connected to something interesting for cycling.

    ... maybe the Croix de Fer-St Jean de Maurienne-Glandon loop?
    N side of Glandon not one of the more interesting or scenic climbs I've done (if doing the loop counter-clockwise) - (but then the S side climb from Allemond + Rochetaillee isn't so exciting either). Descent of upper section of E side of Croix de Fer has a great view toward the Aiguilles d'Arves -- but watch out for speed bumps on the steepest section thru the village St Sorlin.
    maybe there's something to be said for doing the loop instead clockwise and stopping at the top to look back to savor the view (after glimpses on switchbacks?).
    Last time I was there they were doing construction on some lower tunnels, so I had to climb over Col Mollard / Albiez.

    I was hoping to do Croix de Fer-Galibier loop, but I suspect the Galibier will still be closed.
    Myself I think that loop has too much unscenic uninteresting slogging - (if you're not riding it with a pack of other cyclists).
    I noticed this year the famous "la Marmotte" event is offering a new option which does only the second half of the loop: starting from Valloire, clockwise over Galibier + Lauteret to Bourg d'Oisans. Brilliant! because that skims most of the best of the loop.

    Or is there something else similar in challenge to recommend?
    I thought the descent W from Col du Lauteret to Bourg d'Oisans was rather fun -- even if the Galibier itself is closed. And the views of the glaciated N faces of the Meije and other Ecrins mountains is great from the main Lauteret road. Could also go partway down the E side of Lauteret for more views (but all the way to Briancon and back is overdoing it).

    Actually the views S fr the Galibier pass itself to the great N faces is partly obscured -- so maybe if the road is plowed partway up its S side (from Lauteret), you might get high enough to get the best (unobstructed) views. (? or maybe the road on the south side will be plowed all the way to the top?)

    "similar" challenge within driving range:
    * Col du Mont Cenis: Lanslebourg over and down to Susa (Italy) and back (the big climb is from the Italy side). Or make it a loop (counter-clockwise) by parking in Modane and taking the bus thru the Tunnel de Frejus to Bardonecchia and start riding from there. Or for true "animal" status, climb from Susa S up to Colle delle Finestre (dirt higher up, Giro 2005 ? not fully plowed?) before returning to France.

    "different" challenge:
    * Bastille climb on the N side of Grenoble city. About the steepest paved road around.

    Or maybe I get a wild hair and drive down and do the Ventoux. How far is that drive from Oisans? Is it worth it?
    Worth it if it's sunny down south and raining in Grenoble.
    There is only one Mont Ventoux, and the climb to the 360 view is special in that it goes thru at least three distinct ecosystems - (though the climbing itself is somewhat of a slog, could use more variety). Not worth it if you can't see the view.

    More worth it if you can also ride something else interesting down south -- like around the Gorges du Verdon on second day. Or extend the Ventoux day into a loop descending a different way and like riding thru some Cotes du Rhone wine villages or something.

    Another "challenge" to the south (with less unmelted snow?):

    * Jausiers -> Col Larche / Maddalena into Italy -> SE to Vinadio -> Col Lombarde (not yet plowed?) back into France -> Isola + NW thru St-Etienne-de-Tinee -> Col Bonette / Restefond (with side loop over highest paved road in France ? not yet plowed?) -> fun descent to Jausiers.
    about as much vertical (with perhaps more slogging) as the Croix de Fer + Galibier loop, but early season in June the visible snow might make it pretty enough to be worth it. And you get to say you climbed up higher than either of Cols Galibier or Iseran.

    I think there's also a possible loop into Italy with Larche and N to Col d'Agnel / Colle d'Agnello (3rd highest in Europe, perhaps not yet plowed?) - (SE side from Italy is sustained 10-11% grade, I sorta remember there's some "Fausto Coppi" ride which uses it - (but I feel like last time the Giro crossed Agnel, they climbed the "easy" side from France).

    Ken
    Last edited by Ken Roberts; 05-18-10 at 10:10 PM. Reason: fix a couple words

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pedaleur View Post
    The ride up to La Berarde is spectacular.
    Yes. I don't know any public paved road in the lower 48 United States like it
    (though perhaps there's some gravel private mining road cut into the wall of a deep steep valley somewhere in the U.S.)
    Goes into the heart of one of the great ski mountaineering areas of the world.

    Ken

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    Senior Member Cedfromfrance's Avatar
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    Bike ride around Alpe d'Huez

    Hi everyone, Hi Ken,
    I am from St Colomban, which is half way between the bottom and the top of the Col du Glandon, and I thought maybe I could help you a little bit The Col du Galibier always opens up on the 1rst week of june, (It sometimes opens before when may have been really warm, which has NOT been the case at all this year !) We're expecting some warm temp. from this weekend (25 deg C and more, at last..)
    So far above 1500m it is all white (North Face) with around 1.5m of snow at 2000m and the only high pass which is open is the Col du Mont Cenis. Glandon and Galibier should be open when you are here and I would strongly recommend to cycle what we call here "La Marmotte" doing Glandon-Telegraphe-Galibier at once, 157km of pure hapiness... but maybe too hard for this early in the season. I would also recommend Chamrousse as this is on "Le Dauphine Libere"s menu in june ... or Col d'Ornon is quite easy and picturesque. If you are to drive a little, you should do the Col des Saisies- Col des Aravis- Col du Marais, 110km, not too hard and wondefull ! Or Cormet de Roselend-Col des Pres which is also very picturesque.

    As for the distance between Bourg d'Oisans and Le Ventoux, expect 3h of driving.
    Depending on when you are here, please do not hesitate to give me a shout, we could do a bit of cycling together if you like, in any case take care and have fun in the Alps !
    Ced x

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    This is great to see. I've been to St Colomban four times. Three times for ski de randonnee. Two years ago with Georges + Sharon into the Col des Roches, which has many excellent skiing possibilities. Then afterward we stopped for lunch in the St Colomban village center.

    Only one time on my bicycle. It was in September so I missed seeing the snow -- and unfortunately it was a bit rainy that day so I missed seeing much of anything -- except that it was pleasant + quiet along the road. I bet that a sunny day in springtime would have been much better for me.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cedfromfrance View Post
    So far above 1500m it is all white . . . I would also recommend Chamrousse
    Recent photos of Chamrousse by a friend who lives near there.

    Cormet de Roselend-Col des Pres which is also very picturesque.
    Yes, one of my favorite bicycling places in the French Alps. Even though Sharon cannot handle much steep climbing, last year we did it on tandem by "cheating": started on the SE side above Bourg-St-Maurice by parking our car at the road junction for the Val des Glaciers by les Chapieux. Then climbed on our bike up the SE side of Cormet de R, down the NW side to the Lac de Roselend, then up the E side of Col du Pre for the great view -- then back the same way.
    Another pretty (and easier) ride nearby is the Versant du Soleil above Aime.

    "La Marmotte" doing Glandon-Telegraphe-Galibier at once, 157km of pure hapiness
    That loop is a great achievement, and it's got some unforgettable scenes,
    but ...
    * most of the climb up to Col de la Telegraphe was not "happiness" for me. Mostly a long slog up an road with little variety of steepness and lots of trees to block the views. Across the valley is a remarkable mountain peak the Croix des Tetes -- but most of the climb up to Telegraphe faces exactly away from it.

    * riding the highway from St-Jean to St-Michel is not very pretty - (though it does give more variety to the loop).

    A possible to way to avoid those two sections
    (but I haven't tried it yet -- perhaps Ced can advise us):
    Instead of riding all the way to St-Michel, go a shorter ways SE fr St-Jean-de-Maurienne to le Bochet, then climb thru Montricher and Albanne, then about 2 km on dirt to connect to Valloire and the main road S up to Galibier.
    self-supported Marmotte: Riding all the way around the Marmotte loop requires fuel. But lots of the shops in villages along the route might not be open at the hour and day when you're riding thru.
    Ken

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    Senior Member Cedfromfrance's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Roberts View Post
    This is great to see. I've been to St Colomban four times. Three times for ski de randonnee. Two years ago with Georges + Sharon into the Col des Roches, which has many excellent skiing possibilities. Then afterward we stopped for lunch in the St Colomban village center.

    Only one time on my bicycle. It was in September so I missed seeing the snow -- and unfortunately it was a bit rainy that day so I missed seeing much of anything -- except that it was pleasant + quiet along the road. I bet that a sunny day in springtime would have been much better for me.


    Recent photos of Chamrousse by a friend who lives near there.


    Yes, one of my favorite bicycling places in the French Alps. Even though Sharon cannot handle much steep climbing, last year we did it on tandem by "cheating": started on the SE side above Bourg-St-Maurice by parking our car at the road junction for the Val des Glaciers by les Chapieux. Then climbed on our bike up the SE side of Cormet de R, down the NW side to the Lac de Roselend, then up the E side of Col du Pre for the great view -- then back the same way.
    Another pretty (and easier) ride nearby is the Versant du Soleil above Aime.


    That loop is a great achievement, and it's got some unforgettable scenes,
    but ...
    * most of the climb up to Col de la Telegraphe was not "happiness" for me. Mostly a long slog up an road with little variety of steepness and lots of trees to block the views. Across the valley is a remarkable mountain peak the Croix des Tetes -- but most of the climb up to Telegraphe faces exactly away from it.

    * riding the highway from St-Jean to St-Michel is not very pretty - (though it does give more variety to the loop).

    A possible to way to avoid those two sections
    (but I haven't tried it yet -- perhaps Ced can advise us):
    Instead of riding all the way to St-Michel, go a shorter ways SE fr St-Jean-de-Maurienne to le Bochet, then climb thru Montricher and Albanne, then about 2 km on dirt to connect to Valloire and the main road S up to Galibier.
    self-supported Marmotte: Riding all the way around the Marmotte loop requires fuel. But lots of the shops in villages along the route might not be open at the hour and day when you're riding thru.
    Ken
    Hi Ken, ni to hear from you so fast ! Col des Roches, you've past my house by just a few metres... You must be from England if you come over so often ? That's cool.
    The road from Albanne to Valloire is only doable by mountain bike, it's not possible on a road bike (Choice of this village who want to stay out of the flow...) But whenever I do this ride, I usually start from Sainte Marie de Cuines and do this (Not so enjoyable part) very early in the morning and this makes it ok because traffic remains low at 7am.
    Do you always cycle in the Alps with your wife ? Or some friends ?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cedfromfrance View Post
    The road from Albanne to Valloire is only doable by mountain bike, it's not possible on a road bike
    OK. But some of us visitors sometimes ride "mountain bike" sections on our road-bike.
    Like I've ridden over Col du Grand Ferret (E side of Mont Blanc) from S to N on my road bike (rolling + carrying it partway), and would gladly do it again (as part of a clockwise loop with Col Grand St Bernard).
    On the other hand Col de la Seigne (S side of Mont Blanc) is very scenic, but I won't do it again on a road-bike.
    Do you always cycle in the Alps with your wife ? Or some friends?
    I'd be glad to ride with other people, but my ski partners are more into climbing and hiking in the summer. Anyway on roads in the mountains I'm usually in the slowest 10% of cyclists, because I'm not any kind of racer and my travel bike is heavy. I also enjoy riding in the valleys, where less athletic riders are also on the roads, so there I'm more likely to be as fast as some other people.

    So if you can handle riding slower for a while, we could join for a ride.
    A different idea is that I started doing via ferrata climbing in the Dolomites, and now I'm interested to try it in France, and I've heard there are two via ferrata routes near St Colomban. (Also a route on the Croix des Tetes, but I heard some report that's closed.)

    You must be from England if you come over so often?
    Actually I do most of my riding around New York. But we have non-stop flights to Geneva, and then it's a short drive south to Savoie. Our strategy is to get off work early Friday afternoon and go to the airport, sleep over the Atlantic Ocean, wake up in Geneva and assemble the bike. Drive to someplace pretty and start cycling on Saturday afternoon.

    Most of time we visit mainly for backcountry ski mountaineering -- but for that you need stable weather + snow -- otherwise you get like this. So if a day is not good for backcountry skiing, it's nice to know that we can have a delightful time cycling on quiet roads nearby in the Isere river valley -- so we don't feel any pressure to try to ski in the backcountry when it's not safe.

    Sharon was disappointed this winter because we actually skied almost every day, so she didn't get to do any bicycling in Savoie. Then after she flew home, I made the mistake of phoning to tell her what a wonderful time I was having riding thru the farms + vineyards.

    My problem with cycling the roads over the high cols is that if it's September, then I'm disappointed because the mountains are not as pretty as in late spring. It it's early June, then I see the snow and I'm wondering why I'm not climbing up from the road on my skis.

    Ken
    Last edited by Ken Roberts; 05-21-10 at 12:09 PM. Reason: fix a couple words

  9. #9
    Senior Member Cedfromfrance's Avatar
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    So if you can handle riding slower for a while, we could join for a ride.
    A different idea is that I started doing via ferrata climbing in the Dolomites, and now I'm interested to try it in France, and I've heard there are two via ferrata routes near St Colomban. (Also a route on the Croix des Tetes, but I heard some report that's closed.)

    I don't mind at all cycling slower, and I am not particularly fast anyway, I like to enjoy the ride rather than trying to go fast, so did you discover the whole region already ? Or is there any part where you haven't been yet ? Have you been cycling to the Bauges, Chartreuse or Vercors for example ?

    Actually I do most of my riding around New York. But we have non-stop flights to Geneva, and then it's a short drive south to Savoie. Our strategy is to get off work early Friday afternoon and go to the airport, sleep over the Atlantic Ocean, wake up in Geneva and assemble the bike. Drive to someplace pretty and start cycling on Saturday afternoon.

    I am impressed, you must be really motivated to come over here so much, but at the same time I understand, I have taken this Continental Airline flight to Newark and it is really convenient There might be other airline which does the same destination.

    Most of time we visit mainly for backcountry ski mountaineering --

    So you are into Backcountry skiing as well, I also do lots of backcountry skiing with some friends here, like you say we have to be carefull and be sure that conditions remains stable, but the zero risk does not exist. (But these people who have been caught were crazy, it has been snowing a lot over 2000m these last 3 weeks, and with the "relative" heat of the day, it was obvious that such things would happen

    Sharon was disappointed this winter because we actually skied almost every day, so she didn't get to do any bicycling in Savoie. Then after she flew home, I made the mistake of phoning to tell her what a wonderful time I was having riding thru the farms + vineyards.

    If you happen to stay in Maurienne, or around Chambery, Albertville, we could do some gentle circuit somewhere in the area, we don't have to climb HC passes, for me the prettiest pass would be the Col des Aravis, quite easy and beautifull, I guess you already know this one

    Ced x

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    Senior Member Cedfromfrance's Avatar
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    Oups pardon me Ken, I am not sure what I did but there's a bit of what you said and a bit of what I replied... I wanted to do the same than you with Questions-Answers....

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cedfromfrance View Post
    If you happen to stay in Maurienne, or around Chambery, Albertville, we could do some gentle circuit somewhere in the area, we don't have to climb HC passes, for me the prettiest pass would be the Col des Aravis, quite easy and beautifull, I guess you already know this one
    Great -- I just sent you a PM with my phone + email.

    Aravis: I've climbed over it S to N, but what I'd like to try new is descending from Col d'Aravis to Flumet.

    Bauges, Chartreuse or Vercors
    I've skied in every mountain group except the Devoluy, but have not biked in any of those -- so I'd be glad to start exploring.

    So you are into Backcountry skiing as well, I also do lots of backcountry skiing with some friends here
    The Belledonne are so amazing for ski mountaineering (and nobody outside of France has heard of them). Five years ago, Georges and I skied across the Belledonne from W to E, starting from Gleyzin, across the Selle du Puy Gris, and finishing down the Combe du Tepey to les Roches.

    Galibier -- a few years ago I skied the Grand Galibier (by one of the moderate routes, not the Clapiere). In springtime we wait eagerly for a report that the Galibier road has been plowed as far as Plan Lachat. Last May, David + I skied the Pointe des Cerces: the summit is not so interesting, but the approach from Plan Lachat around the NE side of the Grand Galibier and into this intimidating cirque felt very wild and remote. (there's an unpaved road to the SE from the Galibier road which starts toward that area)

    Col du Galibier in early May


    Georges + Hubert climbing above Galibier tunnel entrance


    I wonder if at first this year they will plow only far enough to open the little tunnel, while the actual road over the Col du Galibier will not be plowed free until later.

    Ken
    Last edited by Ken Roberts; 05-21-10 at 06:05 PM. Reason: fix a couple words

  12. #12
    Senior Member Cedfromfrance's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Roberts View Post
    Great -- I just sent you a PM with my phone + email.

    Aravis: I've climbed over it S to N, but what I'd like to try new is descending from Col d'Aravis to Flumet.


    I've skied in every mountain group except the Devoluy, but have not biked in any of those -- so I'd be glad to start exploring.


    The Belledonne are so amazing for ski mountaineering (and nobody outside of France has heard of them). Five years ago, Georges and I skied across the Belledonne from W to E, starting from Gleyzin, across the Selle du Puy Gris, and finishing down the Combe du Tepey to les Roches.

    Galibier -- a few years ago I skied the Grand Galibier (by one of the moderate routes, not the Clapiere). In springtime we wait eagerly for a report that the Galibier road has been plowed as far as Plan Lachat. Last May, David + I skied the Pointe des Cerces: the summit is not so interesting, but the approach from Plan Lachat around the NE side of the Grand Galibier and into this intimidating cirque felt very wild and remote. (there's an unpaved road to the SE from the Galibier road which starts toward that area)

    Col du Galibier in early May


    Georges + Hubert climbing above Galibier tunnel entrance


    I wonder if at first this year they will plow only far enough to open the little tunnel, while the actual road over the Col du Galibier will not be plowed free until later.

    Ken
    There is a circuit that I enjoy doing every summer on my bike: Col du Marais - Col de la Croix Fry - Col des Aravis - Col des Saisies, it sounds impressive but only Croix Fry and Saisies are relatively hard, and we could cycle down the Aravis with the nive view on Mt Blanc
    But I also strongly suggest to cycle the Bauges (Especially if you are with Sharon, because Cols are not so hard (Except the Semnoz) and the Atmosphere is wonderful, one of my favorite place to cycle. Obviously you have no famous pass like the Galibier there but I love it.

    You really impress me, someone from NY who knows the Savoie so well ! What made you want to discover the region ? Is it not easier for you to fly to Western US to find some mountains ? How often are coming over here ? ? How old are you if I may ask .. Your way of life sounds really cool ! I also travel quite a bit for my job (I run my own business)

    In a few hours I am off to a place near Montpellier which is where my sister lives, for a week holiday with my wife (Katy, she's English by the way), and my little 4 months old son, Thomas). I will still have my computer with me so we can carry on chating.

    Coming back to the Galibier, every year we climb the Aiguille de l'Epaisseur (3200m) near the Aiguille d'Arves. We stay in refuge (Some friends are the refuge boss (Not sure how you call it) and we ski the Epaisseur 3200 down to 1400m the next day. This year it wasn't great because the snow was too slushy but the evening was great !! Some nice Aperitifs !!

    I am not sure if they will be plowing Plan Lachat before they do up to the tunnel, but I can ask, I know someone who works at the Mairie of Valloire.

    By the way, have you ever done the Traversee des Alpes on road bike ? (From Evian to Menton) or some 4, 5 or 6 days ride through some mountains ?

    Ced x

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cedfromfrance View Post
    There is a circuit that I enjoy doing every summer on my bike: Col du Marais - Col de la Croix Fry - Col des Aravis - Col des Saisies
    Sounds great.
    Send me an email at the address linked here, and we get in touch when Sharon + I next come to France.

    have you ever done the Traversee des Alpes on road bike ? (From Evian to Menton)
    Yes but not as a single long tour. The longest time I've stayed out cycling in the mountains is 2 nights. I don't like riding in the rain. And I like to mix up cycling with hiking and via ferrata climbing (and so does Sharon). So more often I wait for great weather and ride one long single day. But if you had an idea for a great long-distance ride, and saw several days of stable weather, I'd be interested.
    I did Nice / Menton to Thonon / Evian as a set of single-day loop routes (in different months and different years), so I saw much more of the mountains than if I had cycled it only in one direction -- not only the highest passes but also other cols + valleys E or W from them.
    ... knows the Savoie so well ! What made you want to discover the region?
    Skiing.
    I like exploring new places. Serious skiers from the U.S. usually visit only Chamonix or La Grave. But from the map I could see there was much more in France, and that by basing near Chambery and having a rental car, I could try backcountry skiing in nine different mountain groups -- with excellent detailed guidebooks + maps for backcountry skiing in all of them.

    Then Sharon + I discovered the great cross-country groomed-track skiing (ski de fond) at La Feclaz (also Les Saisies + Bessans), and the great road-cycling thru the farms + vineyards in the valley near Chambery, and an apartment on the second floor of a farmhouse in the valley which we could rent by the week during ski season - (Sharon likes to buy food she doesn't see in the U.S. and try cooking it in the kitchen).

    Is it not easier for you to fly to Western US to find some mountains?
    Yes easier to find "some" mountains.
    But not the combination of great backcountry skiing, great cross-country skiing, great farmland bicycling which fits our style like in Savoie. So even if I might ski somewhere else, Sharon insists on going to Savoie.

    Also I had already explored many of the good backcountry ski tours in the Sierra, Wasatch, Cascades. The winter-road accessible and lift-accessible backcountry skiing in dramatic mountains in France (not to mention nearby Switzerland + Italy) is much more, so there's always going to be lots more new places for me to explore.
    One thing that makes Sharon and me different from most American visitors is that we do both our bicycling and our skiing in Europe in a typical "American" way with support of a car (just like almost all serious cyclist and skiers do when they're home in the U.S.)
    Ken
    Last edited by Ken Roberts; 05-23-10 at 11:14 AM. Reason: fix a couple words

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    OK now you guys are making me want to bring my skis instead of my bike! We are having an incredible year of snow here in the Sierra, but I think when I come to France in June, I think it is cycling time for me. I would like to come back in April/May some year for ski touring. Anyway, thanks for the tips. This has been very helpful.

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    When you get back to California, think about Sonora Pass. I just did both sides today, thought it was great -- in the same league with the great climbs of France for scenery -- definitely higher than any pass in France, and arguably harder than Galibier. Because it is so high (almost 2900m) altitude acclimatization is a factor -- and perhaps you'll still have some of that when you get back from the high passes around Bourg d'Oisans.

    Ken

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    Here are the photos from my few days down in France. I was fortunate with great weather. I will be back again someday.
    http://picasaweb.google.com/mail.ste...eat=directlink

  17. #17
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    Excellent!

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    Wow that sure worked out great. So you didn't need any alternate plans. Even got a few days of great weather.
    And caught it with great photos.

    Seeing how good your photos make it look in late spring with all the snow makes me think I shouldn't bother trying to ride some of those high passes again in autumn -- look for interesting riding in the valleys and foothills instead -- like you did in the Vercors.

    If you're going to be visiting that office park around mid-Febr thru early May, let me know.

    Ken

    P.S. Your idea for California about riding from Mill Valley + Tiburon to Stinson beach + Muir worked out great -- thanks a lot.

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