Distance: 32.5 miles. Elevation: 4436 ft.
Col de la Cluse | Col des Egaux | Col de Couz | Pas de la Fosse (Tunnel) | Col du Granier
I’ve re-located to Entremont-le-Vieux, a charming village in the centre of the Chartreuse mountains. And from there I did today’s ride to Col du Granier, taking in four cols and another pass. The weather was fine so I wore short sleeves and took no rain jacket. Reports dictated into my phone at various points.
14:32 This first report coming seven miles into the ride. I stopped on a bend to look at the scenery and I’m glad I did because it gave me an excellent view down to the road clinging to the rocks on the other side of the valley. I think it’s the road I cycled on a couple of days ago. (le Pas du Frou on the other side of the Gorges du Guiers Vif)
The weather today is beautifully sunny and warm but with some clouds, which might build up later I think.
The ride started, as can be seen by the gradient, with a three mile climb to col de la Cluse. It was not too bad but I realised that maybe the gears on my gravel bike would be better here in the Chartreuse.
The scenery is simply spectacular.
Although the Chartreuse massif has a lot in common with the Vercors it is much more undulating with soaring heights and deep valleys compared with the relative flatness of the Vercors plateau.
So it’s another cycling heaven but certainly I would prefer some lower gears so maybe I should be using my gravel bike here.
It’s very peaceful today with barely any traffic and in most of the villages I go through there’s hardly anyone around.
When I stopped a while ago I realised what has caused my shorts to be wearing out on the inside right leg. I’m using some new velcro ties to tie my arm warmers onto the top bar and I’ve been putting them with the hook side out, so every time I stop my bike and rest my right leg over the top bar the velcro clings onto my shorts and this has virtually ruined a brand new pair of shorts. So anyway I’ve now turned the velcro so it’s the other way around; it works just as well but won’t cling onto anything outside now. You live and learn every day.
So I’ve just recorded this and eaten half a sandwich while looking at that spectacular view. I had sort of promised myself that I would really take in the scenery after some rides in the past where I seem to have just been concerned with slogging my way up the hill without even looking at the spectacle of it.
15:49 I’ve stopped at the 20-mile mark and I know that this is where the main nine-and-a-half-mile climb to Col du Granier begins, and that the first mile is at 9%, so I’ve been preparing myself for this moment. It feels like I’ve been descending for the last hour (in fact it was 40 minutes over 11 miles). Since that last report there was a beautiful road through the mountainous regions via Col des Egaux.
Then a descent through pasture and forests all the way down to the main road at Col de Couz.
And I’ve been on that main road descending for seemingly ages. I noticed at one point that they had repaired the cracks in the cycle lane at the side of the road. which is nice to see.
Also I guess the tour de France must have come by here because there were names written in the road; CAV, JULIAN, WOUT, etc. I had intended to stop earlier than this point just to get either a sandwich or an energy gel but the main road didn’t really offer any decent places to stop, so I’ve just stopped at the bottom here for a report and an energy gel.
I’ve just seen a guy go by up the hill on a mountain bike, spinning away in a crazy low gear, and he’s bouncing up and down with the suspension and with fat knobbly tyres on as well. I mean that really takes a lot of effort; I suddenly felt glad I had my higher gears and a stiff bike with narrow tyres.
16:35 I forgot to mention that I put my arm warmers on when I was up in the pastures because the air was a bit chilly and I wanted them on for the decent. Although they are rolled down at the moment. I’ve just taken a break at 23.5 miles wondering what the terrain ahead looks like. I came up that 9% section very strongly and after that it became quite easy but there have been a couple of short sharp climbs just before this point. I’m laying down on my back on a piece of concrete because my ‘armless’ reading glasses keep falling off the bridge of my nose. A woman has just stopped and leaned out of her car window to check if I was okay, when she saw me lying flat out. Even when I sat up and said I was OK she didn’t seem convinced until further questions were answered, like “do you have any drink?” I eventually convinced her that I was okay and that lying on my back was a reasonable thing to do to keep my glasses on.
It’s totally peaceful here except for the sound of birds chirping.
Report from end After that last report, the road descended slightly, which is why I had stopped to see what was going on. I had 5.5 miles to go from that point to the col du Granier. It started off very easy and never really went much above 7%, so it was quite long but completely manageable.
I stopped a couple of times for photos and once for some traffic lights.
Once through that tunnel, Mont Granier came into view again
In general I think the wind was behind me – in fact at one point I thought I heard the noise of a bike behind me but it was a leaf being blown up the road by the wind, and it overtook me, which I found rather amusing.
There were quite a few cyclists on that climb, some of them on electric bikes.
There were views over Chambery to the Bauge massif beyond.
Three and a half miles from the tunnel, I reached the col du Granier
Apparently the sheer north face of Mont Granier was formed after a giant landslide in the 13th century (see link below for details).
The 3-mile descent back to base was fast and glorious, the way all rides should end!
GalleryClick to enlarge / see slideshow