The French Alps - "Alpe d'Huez and the Belledonne"
This ride takes in some of the most famous climbs in the cycling world, including Alpe d'Huez, Col de la Madeleine and Col du Glandon. Alp d'Huez is 13.8 km long with 21 switchbacks and has an average grade of 7.9 per cent. The usual finish is at the ski resort which is 1860m high. Col de la Madeleine is almost 2000 meters high and is longer at 25k. Col du Glandon might be tougher than both those with a average grade of about 10%. Plus, there are lots of other opportunities for hyperventilating along the way.
Day 1 - Annecy
Meet in picturesque Annecy, "The Venice of Savoie".
We will ride the cycle path on the western edge of the lake south to the town of Faverges. From there we climb up a couple cols, including Col de la Fry at 1467 meters on the way to La Clusaz. If you like, you can cut it short and skip Col de la Fry. You will have some company, whatever you do. It is Sunday and a lot of people will be out on their bikes. 60k
From La Clusaz we go over Col des Aravis (1498 meters) and then head south towards Flumet. We continue on past Mont Bisanne, where we reach about 1600 meters and then down to Albertville. There is sharp little climb at the end just before Albertville, so keep something in reserve. 72k
This is bigger day. We head Southeast along the Tarentaise Valley using a road that parallels the busy main highway which was built for the Winter Olympics. After 20k, the road tilts upward and we find ourselves on the long 25k climb up the Col de la Madeleine. The grade is variable and there are plenty of spots to catch your breath. The Col de la Madeleine tops out at almost 2000 meters. After the top, we have a welcome 18k descent all the way to La Chambre. 64k
No rest for the weary today. Only 2k into today's ride we start the climb up Col du Glandon. This one is tougher not only because we reach it sooner, but because it is steeper. Towards the top the trees will thin out for some splendid views. The climbing isn't over at the top either. There are a couple good uphill sections to break up your descent. We end in the town of Le Bourg d'Oisans which lies at the foot of Alpe d'Huez, but don't lose any sleep over that. 61k
Today is a "rest" day. Of course, whether you actually rest or not is entirely up to you. The alternative is to climb Alpe d'Huez, of Tour de France frame. That means, for most people, it's a rest day in name only. However, Alpe d'Huez won't take all day and you will have free time to do as you please (your day is unsupported).
We take the long way back to Grenoble via Col d'Ornon and the Valbonnais. This avoids the busy and dangerous direct route along N91. There are no big climbs or descents and, but the ride is pleasant enough providing some nice views of the Vercors Mountains and the tower like Mont Aiguille. Once in Grenoble we will take the cycle paths back to our hotel. 90k
7 nites accommodations at hotels and inns
Breakfast and dinners (except dinners on the rest day in Le Bourg d'Oisans and the last night in Grenoble)
Stocked support vehicle and driver
Lunches (can be had in local cafes for 6-10 euros)
Beer, wine booze
Entrance fees to museums, attractions