Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Marmotte Gran Fondo 2015 entries are in theory open

however, most people are having the (now traditional) traditional woes with accessing the site - I guess it's sheer weight of traffic.....

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Marmotte sportive accommodation

2 beds available for the Marmotte sportive due to late cancellation. Half-board accommodation, shuttle up to registration and back from finish included.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Galibier now open, Marmotte route now fully accessible!

A few photos to whet your appetite for the Galibier! I imagine there's still a little more snow about up there than in these shots.

Monday, 26 May 2014

Accommodation available for 2014 Tour de France

Stop press!

Due to a late cancellation, we now have 3 beds free (in a large, triple room) for the week that the Tour de France is in the area (13th to 20th July):

 St Etienne to Chamrousse: Route information 
You can get to Chamrousse by riding the Col du Luitel if you fancy an extra challenge!

Grenoble to Risoul: Route information
You will be able to see the riders at the foot of our road, passing through Bourg d'Oisans or climbing up to the Lautaret.

Tallard to Nimes Route information
A little drive away, but the stage start in Tallard allows you to get really close to the action, riders, bikes and team buses. We were there in 2007 and had a great time: Photo album 2007 Tour

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Col du Glandon now open

We will keep you posted as to the Galibier, as soon as that opens the Marmotte route is 'GO'!

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Col de la Croix de Fer open for 2014!

My favourite col in the area is open again.

Here's where to look for updates, but we'll keep you posted on the blog....

Happy riding!

Col Openings

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Cyclosportives and randonnees, our top 10!

Since riding a couple of Thursday randonnees (see blog 21st March), I have turned my mind to some of the other local randonnees and cyclosportives taking place this summer.

Mont Aiguille (see randonnee #3)
There is an overwhelming choice but we have made a list of 10 of our favourites taking place this year.

These are not necessarily the biggest, toughest or best known events hence don't include 'The Marmotte' or other similar 'epics'. We have chosen 10 rides that we think showcase the area and the wonderful riding we have on offer here. Come on over and ride one!

In chronological order:

1. Randonnee du Balcon de Belledonne - Saturday 10th May - 40, 80, 85 and 110kms. This is a stunning ride that takes you through some amazing countryside, gradually climbing and traversing small roads, villages and hamlets above Grenoble visit website 

2.Challenge Vercors (and Vercors pour Elle) - Sunday 25th May - 42, 121 and 171kms. Very different mountain scenery to us locally here but some equally challenging climbs, the 'Gorges de la Bourne' are an amazing, natural highlight of the circuit visit website

3. Randonnee du Mont Aiguille - Saturday 7th June - 77, 100 and 140kms A friendly and small randonnee taking in some very quiet country roads that keep you in view of the beautiful Mont Aiguille (pictured above) visit website

4.Vercors Trieves Matheysine - Saturday 14th June - 60, 100, 130 and 150km. Three stunning areas of riding all rolled into one lovely randonnee using small, country roads with well-stocked, friendly feed stations.

5. Randonnee de l'Obiou - Saturday 21st June - 40, 74, 114 and 145kms. Lovely route choices in a very beautiful setting, more rolling and gentle than some of the other rides in the area, all within sight of the dramatic 'L'Obiou' mountain. visit website

6. Brevet des Randonneurs de l'Oisans - Sunday 22nd June - 83, 110 and 122kms. Not one for the feint hearted; the 122km is just shy of 3,000 metres of climbing and takes in the Col du Sarenne, Alpe d'Huez and includes an out and back to one of our highlights, La Berarde - visit website

7. Randonnee Dubois Jacob - Saturday 28th June - 80, 117, 140km. If I'm honest, I can't remember much about the route here, though I can only imagine it's pretty nice given the area it covers. My main reason for listing this as one of my top 10 is because it it possibly one of the most friendly events I've ever ridden. The cycle club who host this are the most jovial bunch you could hope to be manning the feed stations and treat us as returning heroes whenever we ride, we always seem to win something on the post-ride tombola too! visit website
8.Meylan Chartreuse - Saturday 13th September - 52, 60, 76 and 100 kms - The Chartreuse is an amazing place to ride with some pretty tough climbs but plenty of stunning scenery to take your mind off of the grind! I like this event because it falls later in the season too and participants have the roads virtually to themselves - visit website

9. Drômoise - Sunday 28th September - 36, 70, 116 and 143kms - Another late season ride so most participants are pretty fit by this time of year. A little drive from the King of the Mountains accommodation, but worth it for the scenery, climbs and welcomes in the various villages you pass through. Last time I rode, one particular village had all turned out in fancy dress and set up their own feed station boasting lots of home made produce and cakes - priceless! -  visit website
10. Alpe d'Huez time trials -not strictly in the category of rando' or sportive, but these mass-start time trials take place every Wednesday morning from 2nd July to 27th August. It's all a bit of fun with a lead-out car (booming out 'Europop' from giant speakers!) and a fun neutralised section from the centre of town to the foot of the Alpe.

The beauty of the randonnees over a sportive is that you do not have to pre-register but can sign up on the day, also, medical certificates are not needed to participate in randonnees, however, for the events number 2 and 9, which are cyclosportives, you will need a medical certificate or racing licence to take part and it's usually prudent to sign up in advance.

Monday, 31 March 2014

Alpe d'Huez 'balcony', a Sunday morning spin

Balcony road from Armentier
On Sunday morning, despite loosing an hour, I was up and out, bike prepped and rolling down the hill at 9am.

Once in the valley I headed towards the foot of Alpe d'Huez and rode the first 6 switchbacks to bend 16, here I took a right at the 'Restaurant La Sarenne'. This takes you on to a traverse that follows the Romanche valley via what we call a 'balcony' road. Of course, to access a balcony (unless you have the luxury of a lift), you usually have to climb some stairs!!   
Looking back towards Armentier

Maybe 'balcony' is a bit of a misnomer since the road climbs gently for a good way. The rewards are worth the climbing though. The road and Romanche river ribbon along the valley below and the cars look like Matchbox toys. Not a view welcomed by the vertigo sufferer, but it gives you a great sense of achievement and a real scale of the amount of climbing behind you.

Looking towards the Veneon Valley
The morning was slightly overcast but being south facing, any rays that did break through were very warming. Signs of the warmth and aspect were all around; an abundance of spring flowers, lizards basking on the road and the occasional butterfly. 

The descent is very enjoyable, a few technical bends as you approach La Freney and then plain sailing after joining the main road (D1091) that sweeps down from Briancon/the Galibier to Bourg d'Oisans.

A great start to the day and a marvellous excuse to have a big chocolate croissant once back in the valley!

'Bike Oisans' bike route including .gpx file


Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Last cross country ski race of 2014

When winter comes to our corner of the Alps, we pick up our cross country skis in place of the bikes. Cross country skiing is by far one of the toughest sports I've tried and one of the most technical too. It's a good way to keep up cardio-vascular fitness during snowy months.

This year I have taken part in a few cross country ski races. The events share a very similar atmosphere to cyclosportives.

Races give the opportunity to ski at different resorts and sometimes in areas that are not normally on the cross country ski itinerary; fields, roads and countryside pisted and prepared just for events. At some, snow is shipped into small village streets so that you can ski amongst the houses and farmsteads, it's really quite unique.

My second race of the winter, back in February, was in a stunning spot not far from here,Valgaudemar, a small valley similar to La Berarde (for those of you who have ridden that in summer). It was a difficult day weather-wise with fresh snow on the circuit and snow falling for the first half of the race. This made the field pretty small, only 19 people, including myself, in the line-up for the 30km event.

Skiing through the village of Valgaudemar
In that race I had a 'first'; a first in that I was last! The 'lanterne rouge' to put in in cycling terms! There were so few participants that despite being the last skier to cross the finish line, I still picked up a prize for coming second in my age group!

Sunday saw me setting off for one of the last events on the 2014 calendar; the 'Etoile des Saisies'. Up at 04h30 to start a stunning drive into the Savoie where, like here, spring is on the way. As I neared the resort of Les Saisies at 1600 metres, I was up in the snow-line and the scene looked altogether more wintry.

Sunday's snowy race conditions
The event had  a pretty big field with some serious racers at the front of the pack. The course had about 550 metres of climbing in each lap of 21km and wound through some beautiful tree-lined areas of the resort. On a clear day you get great views of Mont Blanc but the snow was too heavy to get even a glimpse on Sunday.

The first lady crossed the finish line having completed twice the distance that I had in half the time. I've got a long, long way to go to get to that sort of standard, but as they say, it's the taking part that counts!


Friday, 21 March 2014

First cyclo-randonnee of 2014

And for that matter, my first 'proper' outing of the season too!

Thursday afternoons are the new Sundays! A host of cyclo randonees take place on Thursdays in the local area to attract the many cyclists here of retirement age, in fact, next Thursday the name of the event is unashamedly 'Rando des Retraites' (Rando' of the Retired Folk!).

We are in the full throes of spring just now and it seems that every cyclist is back in the saddle. This is the time of year where Guy and I are spoilt for choice as there is still plenty of snow on the slopes of Alpe d'Huez to cross country ski too. Right now it would be very feasible to ride up Alpe d'Huez, ski, and ride back down again (OK, so there's the logistics of carrying skis on a bike....).

Yesterday I popped down to the outskirts of Grenoble for the 'Randonnee a Saint-Egreve'. Shorts, long sleeves, no overshoes and short fingered gloves a 'balmy' 19'C.

I know that in previous blog posts I have raved about the format of the French cyclo-randonnee, and forgive me for repeating myself, but for Eur 7 you could not get better value for money!

Yesterday offered the choice of 2 routes; 65km or 80km (I chose the shorter distance), all departing from a sports hall between 12h30 and 13h30. Both routes were pretty flat using the plain of Grenoble and some sections of the dedicated cycle path that runs along the Isère river. We were very quickly out of the city and in the heart of agricultural land that sits at the foot of the mountains, notably passing many walnut groves and lettuce plantations all hives of springtime activity. The directional arrows painted on the road for the event were so clear that you could take your mind off navigation and enjoy the scenery.

I took a moderately steady approach for my first ride of the season. That's the beauty of these events, you can choose your pace; there were a couple of triathletes who chose to use the 65km, flat circuit to train on the tri-bars and they left the rest of us for dust!

There is always a cheery, welcoming atmosphere at these events and the hosts, the local cycle clubs, love to showcase their part of the world and take a pride in finding the tiniest and quietest roads to make up the circuits. Yesterday at the feed station there was an unusual note of disquiet. I noticed a small row had broken out amongst a group of 2 local cycle clubs - what could be the cause for such harsh words as ' grand scandale' to be bandied about on such an idyllic day? Club rivalry maybe? No, the issue being hotly discussed was that one club group had ridden through a red light and the other club were worried that their actions would bring the name of the randonnee, of cycling and cylcists into disrepute. I have to say that after 10 years of cycle commuting in London, I found this rather 'quaint'! I filled up my water bottle, grabbed a quick slice of bread and cheese and left them to it!

P.S. Next week
24th May, an amazing choice of routes with a couple of great cols