Cycling French Alps: Blog

Welcome to the BreatheBike cycling in the French Alps Blog.............

Our blog covers what we've been up to cycling in the French Alps

Tour de France 2016

What a week. We were extremely lucky with the route of the 2016 Tour de France having 4 stages just  a short ride from our Chamonix Valley base.

 

With 2 challenging days riding before the Tour arrived in the region, and scorching weather, we managed to balance the abilities of a mixed level of riders to make the most of the days.

 

Fantastic organisation by the Swiss for the Emosson Dam stage saw us watching the big screen in the shade, then back in the Chalet just over an hour after the stage finish.

 

The Time Trial day has to be a highlight of the week. We had Michael Matthews shouting 'Allez Allez' to us as we were climbing and he was descending to TT start. Marcus Burghardt and 2 of the Lotto Jumbo guys asking for directions to their Hotel - luckily I knew where it was! Finally, one of our guests was handed the bike by Rodriguez during his frantic change from TT bike to road bike on the Cote du Domancy - photo below - what a day!

 

 

We knew this week would be a challenge emotionally and has been one of reflection and sadness as there was an empty seat at the dinner table. Our dear Friend of many years, and loyal supporter Iain Higgs was no longer with us. Most of our guests this week were lucky to have known Iain, I first met him in 1988 when we both moved to the Isle of Man on the same day. Iain had become a Middle Aged Man in Lycra in recent years, and a regular visitor since 2012. Gentleman, bike fanatic, and a true friend, we miss you dearly.

 

Tour de France

Tour de France

Can you hold my bike please

Can you hold my bike please

Tour de France

Tour de France

Marmotte & Etape du Tour

Marmotte

 

Early July saw the annual decamp to Alpe D'Huez for La Marmotte Granfondo. This years event was run in much cooler temperatures than the scorcher of 2015, with some of the riders being caught in the rain on the Galibier. Please to report that all bar one of our team finished the Marmotte 2016.

 

Etape du Tour

 

This years Etape replicated Stage 20 of the Tour de France however the Col de la Ramaz was removed shortly before the start due to ongoing concerns of a landslide. In hindsight I'm sure that many of the 14000 entrants were happy with that decision as only 500 succumbed to the day and did not finish. The attrition rate would have been much higher had the Ramaz been included. All of our team got across the finishing line in scorching heat. It was over 30 degrees on the Joux Plane.

Etape du Tour

Etape du Tour

Etape du Tour

Etape du Tour

June - Time Megeve Cyclosportive and Team Jersey

June saw a mixed bag of weather in the Alps. The month started with the Time Megeve Cyclosportive run in cooler weather which was great for the riders. Later in the month we were joined by Team Jersey for a week of Alpline Cols including Alpe D'Huez. A mixture of abilities, combined with the weather showed the importance of van support. We manage to dodge the weather on all but one day. Whilst it was raining in Chamonix we were over in the sunshine of Alpe D'Huez! The group had some of our strongest riders to visit us in the last 8 years. We had some mammoth days including leaving the foot of Alpe 'Huez, climbing the Glandon, Lacets de Montvernier and onto the Col de la Madeleine. This was a huge week culminating in the highest height gain we have ever achieved in 6 days of riding with nearly 16000M climbed.

December 2015

What a December. The month started with snow however its just got warmer and warmer. We've been riding 3 and 4 times a week up to 1500M altitude which is usually impossible at this time of year due to snow. Normally I'd be confimed to the turbo however its been great to get out, however I'm wondering whether I should have bought new wheels rather than season ski pass! The snow will come no doubt.

 

The Tour du Romandie was announced earlier in the month with the stage visiting nearby Martigny just over the border from us in Switzerland. We just need details on the Criterium Dauphine now to complete the routes for nearby races in 2016.

 

We are waiting final details of the Time Megeve cyclosportive route whch will likely be on similar roads to the 2016 Etape du Tour - more news in the new year.

 

So thats it for 2015. Thanks to all our visitors during the year and we look forward to welcoming you all in 2016.

 

Merry Christmas

 

Mike & Jude

Looking forward to 2016

Fantastic news for us in the Mont Blanc region; the Tour de France 2016 is coming.

 

This will finally put the Mont Blanc region on the map as a cycling destination.

 

We have 4 stages of the 2016 Tour de France literally on our doorstep, on our local climbs and roads that we use every week.

 

The race first arrives from the direction of Berne, Switzerland and finishes at Emosson Dam, Switzerland having ascended from Martigny on the Hors Catergorie Col de la Forclaz, and the final Hors Catergorie climb up to the dam. The Emosson dam climb is one of our local out and back rides from Chamonix of around 75km and 2000M of climbing and it was first used in the Criterium Dauphine in 2014.

 

Next day is the time trial from Sallanches over the famous Cote du Domancy, scene of Bernard Hinault's 1980 World Championship win, and on to Megeve via some of our local back roads pitching up to 20% in places.

 

Next its the turn of local ski town St Gervais to receive the finale of the stage - the same climb used in the 2015 Criterium Dauphine when Froomey won the stage before going on to win overall.

 

Finally we have the last stage in the Alps before Paris. Megeve to Morzine over the Col des Aravis, Col de la Colombiere, Ramaz and finally the race returning to the Joux Plane for the first time since 2005 and a certain miracle ride by Monsieur Landis.

 

 

There's more........

 

July 10th 2016 sees the Etape du Tour from Megeve to Morzine.

 

The first stage we will see on the climb to Emosson Dam

The first stage we will see on the climb to Emosson Dam

Time Trial - some steep ramps for great spectating

Time Trial - some steep ramps for great spectating

Final climb up to St Gervais Bettex, where Froomey won the Criterium Dauphine stage in 2015

Final climb up to St Gervais Bettex, where Froomey won the Criterium Dauphine stage in 2015

This is last stage before Paris, and also the Etape du Tour on July 10th 2016

This is last stage before Paris, and also the Etape du Tour on July 10th 2016

Montee de Bisanne

Montee de Bisanne

Tour de France reccy

Tour de France reccy

November update - Summer is over!

2 November 2016

 

What a Summer that was!

 

Summer 2015 has been the warmest for us since we arrived in France in 2007. Day after day of 30 degrees plus. Very little rain and surprisingly very few thunder storms.

 

The 2015 Summer started early in the French Alps this year. Despite torrential rain and storms at the beginning of May which washed out several key roads including the Joux Plane and the collapse of the Tunnel du Chambon, by early June the weather was already turning good with a very hot Time Megeve Cyclosportive.

 

By Mid June we were into back to back trips in the Mont Blanc region with a 2 day visit to Alpe D'Huez, and bumped into Laurens ten Dam on the Col du Glandon who very kindly stopped to take some photos with our group from Portland, Maine.

 

We were lucky to secure a luxury Chalet in Alpe D'Huez for both La Marmotte and the Tour de France in sight of the finishing line.

 

La Marmotte - an absolutely scorching day with temperatures on Alpe D'Huez over 40 degrees. Any one who started that day deserves a medal, any one finishing deserves two.

 

Tour de France - baking hot however staying at the summit of the Alpe had its advantages in that evenings were cooler than the Valley below. What a Tour. We watched 3 stages culminating in the penultimate stage on Alpe D'Huez.

 

Result of year came in early September with a 5th GC, 2nd in age group in La Forestiere cyclosportive in the Jura Alps and followed into early October with a 9th in age group at the Cime de Lac Annecy cyclosportive.

 

So October and into November and still the weather has remained fantastic with frosty mornings and warm afternoons. The last day of October saw us previewing the Bisanne climb due to appear in the 2016 Tour de France - its brutal! Making the most of the weather before the snow arrives.



Laurens ten Dam on the Col du Glandon

Laurens ten Dam on the Col du Glandon

View to Col des Aravis from the Saisies

View to Col des Aravis from the Saisies

Scorching day on the Glandon / Croix de Fer

Scorching day on the Glandon / Croix de Fer

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