Ken Roberts - - Bicycling
later in 2006
posted to rec.bicycles.rides 06sep20:
subject: favorites in mountains of Switzerland
I was glad to get to try out some of the high passes in Switzerland suggested on this newsgroup in the last couple of months by Sergio and Roberto, and the ever-helpful reports from Jobst Brandt. I've put some photos up at http://www.roberts-1.com/t/b06/ch/k So now I'm ready for some more ideas on favorite places -- and why we like (or don't like) them.
favorite Passes so far:
other passes with good points:
favorite Loop tours so far:
(clockwise thru Interlaken, Meiringen, Grindelwald) -- To the great pass the loop adds nice lakeside views and some pleasant quiet valley riding (and more vehicle traffic between Grindelwald + Interlaken, another reason to prefer clockwise to get thru that faster). I rode the south side of the Brienzersee lake following the national bike route, which was quiet, but got me into some gravel and complicated turns -- not sure how it would work to ride around the north side of the Brienzersee.
(counter-clockwise thru Wassen, Innertkirchen, Gletsch, Realp, Andermatt) -- Each of the three passes feels different, and the whole thing feels like a great achievement. My thinking is that the clockwise direction might be better for enjoying Grimsel -- but counter-clockwise fits better with maximizing enjoyment of Susten + Furka -- and especially with handling the required tunnels between Andermatt and Goeschenen.
(clockwise thru Orsieres, Aosta, Courmayeur, la Fouly) -- I found that the loop added the superlative close views of the highest mountains in Europe, while riding thru Courmayeur and la Palud and lower (Italian) Val Ferret, and some fun downhill cruising between la Fouly and Orseires on smooth pavement. But especially it adds the adventure of handling going up and down the unpaved hiking trail. I was glad for Jobst's idea of riding Ferret south-to-north because hiking trail on the north side is much gentler (and mostly not as rocky as Col de la Seigne), while the south side was very steep and had lots of "water bars" across the trail -- so I was able to descend much of the north side on my bike. I did have to carry my bike in several sections to get it up the south side, took serious arm + leg strength. But I'd do it again.
notes on other passes:
Look forward to getting corrections and more ideas.
posted to rec.bicycles.rides 06sep19:
subject: Re: how was your weather?
Thanks Sergio -- It was your suggestions by Email that got me thinking about Col de la Seigne, and looking for Jobst Brandt's reports about it -- and his and other people's reports about Col du Grand Ferret.
And it was your suggestion of Col du Grand St Bernard / Passo del Gran San Bernardo that got me wanting to make a loop route with that. But riding all the way around the Mont Blanc massif seemed like too much, and I liked Jobst Brandt's idea that seeing the Mont Blanc massif from the south side was very spectacular.
So I started in Orsieres in Switzerland, rode over Grand St Bernand (indeed spectacular like you said) to Aosta in Italy, then over Col du Petit St Bernard (Piccolo San Bernardo) - (not as good views as Grand St Bernard) . . .
Next time I'm around here, try climbing southwest from Morgex over Colle San Carlo (or at least partway up its northeast to try for a big view of the wild southeast side of Mont Blanc.I found that the obvious road up the Val Veny southwest from Courmayeur was too close, and the main road from Pre-St-Didier to la Thuile is too much in the trees. [added 09jun]
. . . into France and found a hotel down in Bourg St Maurice. Next morning I started riding north toward Cormet de Roselend, but then turned northwest into Val des Glaciers. I left the road when I saw the sign for the Col de la Seigne hiking trail, did a little more riding, then lots of steep uphill pushing. Funny thing was the first four people I met on the trail that morning on bicycles -- they were amazed anybody would try this on a road bicycle. I added a photo of one of the mountain bikers and the trail surface to this page: http://www.roberts-1.com/t/b06/mb/index.htm
Then over the Col into Italy and down Val Veny (seemed like needed to hike up off the road to get the better views). to Entreves -- I didn't feel I had time to visit Courmayeur. Then the steep climb up thru la Palud, and the delightful gentle paved road in Val Ferret with a festive atmosphere with so many people out on a sunny afternoon. Then the steep climb up the hiking trail where I was regretting having ever read Jobst's and other reports of Col du Grand Ferret. Followed by the happiness of enjoying the descent on dirt into Switzerland, and glad I had learned from Jobst that the downhill would be more fun taking it south-to-north. Reaching the smooth pavement near la Fouly and a high-speed cruise down to the Orsieres train station (which made me glad I was on my road bike).
A good adventure with three countries and two high pass crossings on each day -- not sure I'd do all of again.
A few days later I got to try some of your other ideas like Grosse Scheidegg -- very spectacular going east to west, and made a nice loop route for me with Interlaken and the Brienzersee and Meiringen.
posted to rec.bicycles.rides 06jly18:
subject: Ile-de-France near Paris
Sharon and I had several fun days of riding our tandem in the Ile-de-France region which surrounds the city of Paris. On previous trips to France, we somehow thought we needed to go to some outlying area to find the world-class riding of France: Dordogne + Lot, Loire valley, Alsace, Bourgogne.
But now it's seeming like some of the most fun riding in France for us is close by Paris. We tried riding around Giverny + Vetheuil (75 km / 47 miles to the northwest of Paris), Chantilly + Neuilly-en-Thelle (38 km / 24 miles to the north), and Fontainebleau + Milly-la-Foret (57km / 36 miles to the southeast of Paris).
This is good for us, since it means we can combine countryside bicycle rides with evening visits to the city of Paris. All three of those rides are near train service to Paris. And the riding in Ile-de-France is much closer to major international airports which we can conveniently fly to.
On our rides we like variety, so in the countryside, we like seeing multiple kinds of animals, different kinds of fields and forests and gardens, different kinds of houses and building architecture, villages with multiple food + drink options which tend to be open for business when we ride through, a couple of historic sites which we could visit (but often don't). 3 out of 3 rides, the Ile-de-France region delivered on most of those. And the city of Paris delivered on its special qualities.
So now we've bought the L'Ile-de-France a Velo map by IGN 1:100000 with 100 loop routes. Though actually the 1:200000 Michelin or Blay-Foldex maps with scenic roads highlighed in green have been plenty useful for planning rides for us. The original stimulus for trying out more riding in Ile-de-France (and many of the roads for 2 out of the 3 rides) was the "Cycling France" guidebook by Sally Dillon and others (Lonely Planet, 2001) -- still the best English-language bicycling guidebook for France I know of.
P.S. My theory of why the countryside near Paris is often more interesting than the farther provinces . . .
The problem with truly rural areas is that they tend to focus on agriculture as a business, which tends to imply that they focus growing one or two things which optimize profits (or subsidized losses?) for the soil and weather of that area. Like the Alsace region has lots of vineyards and orchards, but not many cattle or animals. Like the Bourgogne region has lots of all-white Charolais cattle, but not many other animals. And business agriculture tends to have lots of large open fields, but not many farmhouses. Also not as many (non-migrant) people are needed to make modern business farming work, so lots of villages we ride through don't have any shops open to purchase food or replacement hydration more on lots of days and hours.
What's interesting for us in the region closer around Paris is that there's still farming, but it seemed to us like some of is "gentleman" farming, or "semi-hobby" farming -- perhaps supported by a family member with a good-paying job in Paris, or retired from a good job in Paris. Semi-hobby farming implies non-optimized farming, which implies variety: Different vegetable crops, more over-sized gardens, horses, cows, sheep. It implies more farm-houses, since part of the idea of a hobby is to get your hands on the growing stuff (when you choose to). Money from good-paying jobs implies multiple bakeries open in the quaint little village. Implies money to renovate old stone houses. Money to widen roads and pave them better. And lots of people out riding nice bikes on those roads (? perhaps to work off some stress from those good-paying jobs + commutes ?)
posted to rec.bicycles.rides 06jly18:
subject: favorites in the French Alps?
I'm looking for more rides to do in the great mountains of France. I've done lots of the big climbs, but I find I have more fun on a holiday week when I instead "mix" the tough climbing days with other days of fun gentler riding. So I'm interested in hearing about both ends of difficulty spectrum.
Here's some categories where I'm looking for more ideas: * gentler single-day loop routes * loop routes with moderate climbs "in the foothills" * big climbs up with descent back down the same way * loop routes that include big climbs
Below are lists of the ones I've found so far in each category.
Here's my favorites from what I've tried so far:
Gentler single-day loop routes:
[ It's not easy to find this gentler kind of route in the middle of the Alps -- I think I'd settle for something in the area east of Lyon being near enough. ]
Moderate climbing loop routes "in the foothills":
I feel confident I can find this kind of riding: (a) down south around Nice + Menton; and (b) up north between Thonon and St Jeoire --perhaps something with the D12 (Habere-Poche) and/or the D26 (Bellevaux).
But I'd love to know some nice foothills routes for some of the areas in between. I even took the time to check in three shops around Chambery, but they didn't have any bicycling-specific guidebooks or maps. Seems you can get bicycle routes from tourist offices -- OK -- but it would be nice to have some suggestions of which ones to try.
Big Climb up, then go back down the same way:
www.grenoblecycling.com is a rather helpful English-language resource to the big climbs.
Loop routes with big climbs:
posted to rec.bicycles.rides 06jly18
Subject: France Alps high cols Sea to Lac
One of the big mountain road bicycling adventures is to ride over the high passes between the Mediterranean Sea and Lac Leman / Lake Geneva. It's getting promoted a lot for driving by car or motorcycle as the "Route des Grandes Alpes", with the turns marked by prominent signs beside the roads -- and even a special paper map for it on sale in shops, and its own website: www.routedesgrandesalpes.com (see detail of routes further below)
Now I've found advertised on the web, three bicycle tours that are pretty closely following this officially signed motor vehicle route.
But I don't think it's the best route for most cyclists -- lots more details below.
My experience is that I climbed all the high passes on a route from Nice + Menton north to Thonon on Lake Geneva -- but I did not ride them all in a continuous sequence -- instead I climbed over them as part of loop routes together with other nearby roads and cols -- during four separate weeks over three years. I found this "piece-wise" approach rather interesting, often enjoyable and/or exciting -- no regrets on not having done it "straight through" -- hope I get to do several of those loops and climbs again. (Looked to me like at least 85% of the other riders I saw on most of the climbs were not doing it straight through either.)
Some thoughts on the overall route:
I think a better base for planning a Sea to Lac cycling route over the high passes is www.chez.com/bikeevasion/alpes.htm
Below are some comments about alternatives for specific sections -- and a sequence List of cols.
Specific sections (south to north):
What about the notorious "old military road" (mostly on gravel) over Colle della Finestre in Italy between Sestriere and Susa? Myself I didn't think the views were worth the extra labor (versus the valley road thru Oulx). Probably the views would have seemed more worthwhile in early season with snow, but still that's a lot of gravel and a lot of extra climbing. (If you like that sort of thing, also consider Cormet d'Areches instead of Cormet de Roselend.)
Seems to me that adventurous riders seeking a truly "Grand" connection on its northern end to the Lac should consider trying to figure out it it's possible to work out a route which finishes with some truly grand views of the Mont Blanc massif -- possibly using like the Passy - Servoz road to Chamonix, then over two cols into Switzerland and finish at the east end of Lac Leman / Lake Geneva. (I'm guessing the main reason the official car-driving route does not do this is in order to keep the route completely within the boundaries of France, but I fail to see why a cyclist visitor to modern Europe needs to be so constrained.)
08oct: I did try that: see report on riding "grander" northern section
List of cols (and some cities) -- south to north:
(some cyclists start in Antibes or Nice)
(some cyclists) Grasse - Col de la Sine - Col de Bleine - Gorges du Cians - Col de la Couillole to St Sauveur sur Tinee
(most cyclists) Col de la Bonette (2715m) - optional Cime de Bonette (2802m) - Restefond to Jausiers
(some cyclists) Col de Montgenevre - Italy - Susa / Col du Mont Cenis to Lanslevillard
(some cyclists) Cluses - Araches - Taninges - Pras de Lys - Col de la Ramaz - Col Jambaz - Col Terramont - Habere-Poche
A helpful English-language resource for many of the higher cols is www.grenoblecycling.com
more . . .
concept words: roberts Europe European visit trip vacation holiday American visitor report reports
bicycling: bicycle bicycling bike bikes bicycles bicyclist cycle cyclist cycling touring riding rider riders
routes: route routes ride rides tour tours map maps
places: place river valley state country region regions area areas city town village
fahrrad rad radfahren radtour touren routen velo tour tours route routes velotour cyclisme
bici bicicletta percorso itinerario visita giro turistico
Schweiz Suisse Svizzera Suiza Italia Italie Frankreich Francia Monte Bianco hautes cols alta alto h÷he