Vaudagne Velo; Kev the mechanics view

Kevin of Vaudagne Velo provides invaluable support on many of our trips. Here's his thoughts on some popular topics.

How to by Vaudagne Velo


Part 1 Gears.

Can I get up the hills ?


Well the answer is Yes you can if you have done some training and your bike is set up for climbing.

Unless you are an ex pro or been riding in the high mountains for a number of years you will find riding in the Alps on our classic TDF cols a lot harder then the local climbs back home for a number of reasons. First the the lack of air into your lungs, riding at altitude is hard work and you will be looking to find a way to stop your chest pains and for your legs to keep moving.

You could stop off in a Swiss chemist on your way over but that won't help that much and we have a non drug policy here in Chamonix, plus it's not good form to drop Mike on the first climb of the day.

The best way to help your pain is the Bike, make it work for you in the mountains, not be the reason you are in the van with me and my bad 80's and Cold Play music.

So Kev, how do we do that you ask!

Well you are not Chris Froome or at best Cav, so fit a compact Chainset 50/34 with a 30 or 32 cassette on the rear, your local bike shop can help you with this.
Both Shimano & SRAM will make a cassette with a 32, you will need to fit a Mid or Long cage rear gear with a New Chain.

This should give you that back up gear you are looking for half way up that TDF Col you saw Lance win on back in 2005, with out it you will find its HARD WORK.

If you are not much of a rider but still keen to try your hand at the route then look into a triple Chainset gear system, you will need to fit a few more bits so check with the local bike shop on the cost as some systems will not take a triple system.

Gears to use:
50-34 or 50-36 Compact Chainset. if you are a racing cyclist you could use 52-36 don't come out the a 53-39 set up.

If riding on Shimano or SRAM, either
- 11speed 11-32 or 12-32
-  10speed 11-30 with Shimano or 11-32 with SRAM
Both will need Mid or Long Cage Rear Gears

If you are riding on Campagnolo then you have a small problem. The Italians think that if you are not a Pro Cyclist you can climb a mountain with no more than a 29 on the rear. You can now get a 10speed with a 30 but you will need to check with the local bike shop.

Remember #58 support the local bike shop!

If you think the bike adjustments will cost to much for one trip cycling in the Alps with BreatheBike then ask Mike about Bike Hire.

Key thing to remember is put some training in before you get here and don't kill yourself on the first climb each day,ride your self in at your speed and take advice from Mike and his team at BreatheBike to help you have a great safe holiday and enjoy the Alps.

For more advice for your trip and bike setup you can email Kevin at

Next Time
What Wheels and Tyres to use!

Happy Cycling and see you out on a BreatheBike trip soon.

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