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  1. #1
    Socrates Johnson AngrySaki's Avatar
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    Estimating trip time through mountains (Alps)

    I'm planning a trip accross france this summer with a couple of friends, but I don't have any experience riding around in mountains, so I'm not sure how much time to budget for a section of an upcoming trip accross France.

    That section is about 300km (186 miles).

    For the rest of the trip we're planning on averaging 100km (62 miles) per day, so if it was flatish, i'd budget about 3 days of riding. I'm going to be the slowest person, and I'm not a great hill climber, and i'm also somewhat heavy, me + bike + stuff = ~300 pounds. On a superflat route I think i'd probably average 25km/h (15mph). I'm not expecting a perfect answer, just some ideas of how much slower the riding will be.

  2. #2
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    If it were me, I wouldn't plan on more than 75 km a day through the mountains. Partly because I'd be slow through the mountains ... partly because I'd want to stop lots and take photos.

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    I don't think any of us can predict how you'll ride. I can tell you, however, that it looks like you'll be crossing the Col du Lauteret. I've crossed it in the other direction. It's not a particularly steep pass, and the scenery is lovely. One thing I recall is that while descending toward Grenoble, it was a wonderful gradual descent with few if any switchbacks. I was able to descend without having to use my brakes and could just sit back and enjoy the fine scenery. Climbing in my direction was also gentle, so you should have a relaxing descent toward Briancon.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by AngrySaki View Post

    I'm going to be the slowest person, and I'm not a great hill climber, and i'm also somewhat heavy, me + bike + stuff = ~300 pounds. On a superflat route I think i'd probably average 25km/h (15mph). I'm not expecting a perfect answer, just some ideas of how much slower the riding will be.
    I am 200 lbs, and a fair climber. I am a long distance guy, not a sprinter. Can pull centuries on consecutive days, and on a group ride hang with the "A" riders for a while, but not forever. I am 57.

    based on my experience I offer this:

    regarding estimating daily averages, be conservative. I've toured in the Rockies, and in much more mountainous southern Himalaya. In the rockies, I average about 40-50 miles a day. In china - 30-35. I also take off a day about every 5 or 6 days. On the route you are taking, I'd be really looking at it and asking questions about making it in 3 days. Think I could, but would I enjoy it?

    given your assessment of your abilities, I recommend you set modest goals early in the trip, and pick it up gradually. soon you'll get into a groove

    I think you'll have a great time!!
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  5. #5
    Socrates Johnson AngrySaki's Avatar
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    Thanks for the replies, I think i'll try and budget 5 days of riding for that section.

  6. #6
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    Ooh, I used to live on that map - Saint Martin d'Heres, just near Grenoble. I'm sad to say that the one time I tried riding in the hills, I died a horrible death after less than an hour and turned around.
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  7. #7
    Ready to go anywhere Csson's Avatar
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    Assuming you are traveling from A (Sault?) to Grenoble, I actually think that you will find the small climbs enroute to Embrun harder than the rest of the route. I haven't done that particular stretch, but it looks like there should be quite a few short climbs and those are often harder (in my mind) than one big climb.

    After Embrun you are simply following the Durance river to Briancon. Embrun is at ~800 metres and Briancon at ~1200 metres. That 90k should mostly be a gentle, almost not noticeable, incline.

    As has been mentioned, Col du Lautaret out of Briancon is a very easy climb by Alpine standards. The last few kms are a little bit harder, though, but with low enough gearing (that you'll need anyway on a tour in those regions) it's just a matter of taking your time.

    (Personally, I wouldn't miss doing Col d'Izoard when being so close to it (it's basically a detour between Guillestre and Briancon).)

    I'm sure you'll find five days plenty .

  8. #8
    Socrates Johnson AngrySaki's Avatar
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    Thanks for the tips. Col d'Izoard seems like a much higher elevation than anywhere else along the route, so unless I`m compltetely toast by that time, I think I`ll give it a try. I`m pretty excited about seeing the mountains

  9. #9
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    One word of advice... If you discover, after a day of climbing mountains, that your legs just don't want to spin around anymore, it's time to take a serious rest: not an hour, but a day or maybe longer.

    It happened to me in the Alps. I made the mistake of pushing on for a second day, and then my legs were not going anywhere. I needed five or six days of complete rest before my legs could deliver power to the pedals again. I think that had I rested on Day 2, I would have been fine.

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