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cycling in bourg d oaisans

Hi

Going to French Alps at weekend, nervously looking forward to it!

Any tips for places to eat, drink, and some none cycling things to do, as my wife is definitely not into cycling every day!

Posts

  • To be honest, Bourg d'Oisans is not a particularly good base for cycling in the Alps, especially at this time of year when many of the big Cols are still shut or only partially open. It's actually a bit of a dump and some of the hotels are pretty run-down. There is also a real lack of quiet back roads. For a better selection of roads and more to do away from cycling look at somewhere like Annecy, which is fantastic, or even somewhere around Lake Leman, such as Evian Les Bains.
    "an original thinker… the intellectual heir of Galileo and Einstein… suspicious of orthodoxy - any orthodoxy… He relishes all forms of ontological argument": jane90.
  • Well, I'm right looking forward to it now! Ha ha
  • Staying with a English run company more than 21 bends.

    They have said the cols are open
  • BenderRodriguezBenderRodriguez Posts: 907
    edited May 2014
    Staying with a English run company more than 21 bends.

    They have said the cols are open

    Well, Alpe d'Huez will certainly be open, as will the Lautaret, but that is not much fun on a bike. According to the following site http://savoie-route.fr/ the Galibier is only open as far as Plan Lachat, and the Glandon is not fully open yet. Still, things are starting to open up now, and you might get lucky, or you might not. It is only a couple of weeks ago that even the road over Mont Saleve between Geneva and Annecy was completely blocked by snow. I read the official notices, couldn't see a flake of snow anywhere and after 9 km of climbing suddenly came across a barrier and a metre of snow! Round my way The Colombiere, Jambaz, Joux Vert, Joux Plane and Ecrenaz are all not open yet. The company you are going with says that The Sarenne is 'kind of open'. Not sure what that means though!

    I can see why people go to the area around Alpe d'Huez, what with the Tour de France connections, but there are thousands of square miles of mountainous countryside that are way better for cycling in the area running south of Grenoble to the north of Annecy. For me there are simply far too few roads, and far too much traffic, including goods vehicles, along the D1091 corridor.

    This weekend I will be in the gorges of the Vercors for the Challenge Vercors. Pity that the meteo is for storms and rain right across the region for this weekend. Wrap up warm, the forecast for Bourg d'Oisans is 4 -11 degrees with a 70% chance of storms. Snow will probably be falling on the higher cols!
    "an original thinker… the intellectual heir of Galileo and Einstein… suspicious of orthodoxy - any orthodoxy… He relishes all forms of ontological argument": jane90.
  • DeVlaeminckDeVlaeminck Posts: 7,783
    There is a report somewhere on the web from a couple of guys who went cycling there this April - they went up the Alpe, Deux Alps, Ornon etc so unless you are unlucky you should get up most of the cols, Galibier was still shut this time last year of course so keep your fingers crossed. My standards may be lower than censored 's but I like Bourg, it's a fairly quiet little place though and if you aren't into cycling or walking then there isn't a lot to do that's immediately obvious. It's also true that most of the quiet roads are mountainous, the valley ones being not so appealing for a bike ride.
    [Castle Donington Ladies FC - going up in '22]
  • There is a report somewhere on the web from a couple of guys who went cycling there this April - they went up the Alpe, Deux Alps, Ornon etc so unless you are unlucky you should get up most of the cols, Galibier was still shut this time last year of course so keep your fingers crossed. My standards may be lower than censored 's but I like Bourg, it's a fairly quiet little place though and if you aren't into cycling or walking then there isn't a lot to do that's immediately obvious. It's also true that most of the quiet roads are mountainous, the valley ones being not so appealing for a bike ride.

    Generally, the major arterial roads and those serving the ski stations will be kept open, those most favoured by cyclists might still be shut in mid June!

    If you are in Bourg do try out the road on the opposite side of the valley to the Alpe which runs up to Villard Notre Dame, assuming that it is open. There are some long, bendy tunnels so ensure that you have some good lights with you.
    "an original thinker… the intellectual heir of Galileo and Einstein… suspicious of orthodoxy - any orthodoxy… He relishes all forms of ontological argument": jane90.
  • DeVlaeminckDeVlaeminck Posts: 7,783
    [Castle Donington Ladies FC - going up in '22]

  • Some classic routes there. They did get lucky with the weather though. That is the thing with the mountains, there were days in late February when I was able to get out in shorts, and yet the week before last it was back to tights, Assos winter jacket, hat and gloves and still freezing! Just look at what happened in the 2011 Etape du Tour and travel prepared for any eventuality.
    "an original thinker… the intellectual heir of Galileo and Einstein… suspicious of orthodoxy - any orthodoxy… He relishes all forms of ontological argument": jane90.
  • durhamwaspdurhamwasp Posts: 1,242
    Its not ideal time to be there, but you will still have a cracking time!

    Bourg is a quality little place, and I could sit outside with a beer or two watching the cyclists go by all day.

    Alpe d'Huez, Lautaret, Deux Alpes is a nice enough little menu!
    http://www.snookcycling.wordpress.com - Reports on Cingles du Mont Ventoux, Alpe D'Huez, Galibier, Izoard, Tourmalet, Paris-Roubaix Sportive & Tour of Flanders Sportive, Amstel Gold Xperience, Vosges, C2C, WOTR routes....
  • Cricket, reading some of that, I might as well stay here! You guys maybe hard to please!

    Been to vercors area, that was very nice. For sure it is a gamble going thus time of year, but then again have to go when you can. If gone in August prob found it too hot!
  • cc78cc78 Posts: 599
    Staying with a English run company more than 21 bends.

    They have said the cols are open

    Phil will look after you well.

    (although I agree, the Northern Alps are better - maybe slightly biased though...)
  • You been with company before cc? They ok?
  • cc78cc78 Posts: 599
    You been with company before cc? They ok?

    No, I only live 2 hours up the road so no need... but I have a friend in Bourg who is good pals with Phil. I rode up the Alpe with him last year: lovely guy who knows his stuff.

    Enjoy your trip, the weather is improving nicely for you too 8)
  • Thanks for that cc. Put my mind at ease a bit after a few slightly negative comments about the place. To be fair people only telling as they see it which is fine, just have no experiences of that area.

    Going to ventoux as well, so will be on my knees at end of week!
  • knedlickyknedlicky Posts: 3,097
    Download the pdf “Cycling in Oisans” from this website for a good list of local rides, most of which will be open by now.

    http://bourgdoisans.com/en/leisures/road-cycling
  • BenderRodriguezBenderRodriguez Posts: 907
    edited May 2014
    I wasn't trying to be overtly negative, but I do think that people visiting the Alpes should look beyond the fact that there is a climb close by that the Tour uses. For example, you mentioned eating out and things to do non-cycling wise, and Bourg offers practically nothing in that direction, certainly when compared to the cultural and gastronomic delights of somewhere like Annecy. Sure, if you have never ridden in the area before just riding up the Alpe will blow you away, but there are relatively few circular routes that you can do, and most will involve riding on an Alpine equivalent of the A1 at some point. Just take a look at a map of the area and the vast number of back roads, climbs and so route options that there are to be found around somewhere like Chambery, as opposed to the dearth of roads further east.

    Another issue is that many of the highest passes are also attractive to petrol heads and motorcyclists, some of whom treat the roads as racetracks. I have certainly seen 'club runs' of drivers in Porches, TVRs and so forth driving like nutcases on some Alpine roads, and a surprising number of these seem to be Brits or Swiss. It is not just me who has noticed this. For example, I have seen a report over on the CTC site where one rider was mightly miffed that his ride up Mont Ventoux was spoiled by a load of clearly well-off Brits in sports cars, many with obscured number plates, racing past him at 100 Mph plus. (Generally, many of the Brits who actually live out here are no better and many, perhaps even a majority of them, bring over cars from the UK, register them on a SORN notice in the UK and then drive them in France with no valid VED, no French controle technique badge and probably no valid insurance either.) The Ventoux also has a crappy narrow 'cycle lane' marked up it, which would spoil the atmosphere of the climb for me.

    Personally, I would much prefer to spend the day riding around some of the lesser know cols, many of which are far more picturesque with next to no traffic. That said, although some of the well-known high passes are hell in the summer due to the heat and traffic flows, they can be fairly pleasant around this time of the year, or after the tourist season just before they are closed again by the snow. For example, last weekend I did a monster ride that included the Col de La Forclaz (although I did take the back way up), the Col des Montets and the Chamonix valley, which wasn't too bad, even if the motorcyclists were already out in force. I would never choose to do it in the tourist season though.
    "an original thinker… the intellectual heir of Galileo and Einstein… suspicious of orthodoxy - any orthodoxy… He relishes all forms of ontological argument": jane90.
  • cc78 wrote:
    Enjoy your trip, the weather is improving nicely for you too

    http://www.meteofrance.com/previsions-m ... sans/38520

    Petrol heads on Ventoux...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dliX-mN5IS0

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7znB4Epe5_k

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cjqlGqkM_mw

    P.s. Sorry if I am coming over as being a bit negative again, but whilst there was a time when I saw a trip to somewhere like Bourg d'Oisans as being something special, these days the fact that the commercial circus / dope fest that is the Tour uses a road is not enough reason in itself for me to want to ride it as well. After all, it also uses the Champs Elysees every year, but I am certainly not planning on cycling around it myself!
    "an original thinker… the intellectual heir of Galileo and Einstein… suspicious of orthodoxy - any orthodoxy… He relishes all forms of ontological argument": jane90.
  • davidofdavidof Posts: 2,712
    The Glandon is passable on a bike now so you can do a loop: BdO -> Glandon -> St J. de Maurienne -> Croix de Fer -> BdO if you want. There are some road works on the Croix de Fer north and no water except for streams so stock up in the valley.

    viewtopic.php?f=40003&t=12968027

    Also worth doing Col d'Ornon perhaps in a big loop via the Grande Serre, I would descend to Vizille, climb the Grande Serre then loop back over the Ornon. The balcony roads around ADH are worth looking at; the Sarenne is probably closed but it may just be one or two drifts like the Glandon.

    The roads do tend to be busy though although now is much better than in the high summer.
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  • Thanks for all the info rod. Not a problem bout the negative thing, you have told it as you see it, which is exactly what you need, no rose tinted sales pitch!

    For me it is a case of just doing the famous cols of the tour this time, and just to tick them off really to say "done that" and to test myself. For me it will just be an achievement to get to the top of them. Think going to feel sorry for my wife, (not for the first time :D ) as she might be bored when I off cycling. Went to the Vercours region a few years ago, that was nice.

    Still we will have a guide with us who knows the area well, and will look after us.

    Appreciate you guys taking the time to reply to an Alp novice like myself!
  • Think going to feel sorry for my wife, (not for the first time :D ) as she might be bored when I off cycling.

    She will be fine if she likes walking or horse riding. Promise to take her for a long weekend in Lyon in return, which is one of the gastronomic centres of France and also has some decent museums and galleries, a Roman amphitheatre and loads of shops.

    By the way, I note that the company you are travelling with also offers a mini-bus pick up service. Let's hope that it is legal as running unlicenced shuttle services is another scam popular amongst Brits who live out here, especially in the ski areas. :evil:
    "an original thinker… the intellectual heir of Galileo and Einstein… suspicious of orthodoxy - any orthodoxy… He relishes all forms of ontological argument": jane90.
  • DeVlaeminckDeVlaeminck Posts: 7,783
    I wouldn't worry about the riding round there if the cols are clear and dry - I found it exceptional and traffic wasn't a consideration except on the Lauteret which is a fairly busy road. The concern will be the weather but in mid Summer I have always found even most of the well known cols to be quiet enough.

    There is a little booklet of rides you can get from tourist information though I think it is also on the internet somewhere which is worth downloading - otherwise ask on here - censored has already mentioned a few of the lesser known roads that are worth seeing but they are all on that little booklet.
    [Castle Donington Ladies FC - going up in '22]
  • wallace_and_gromitwallace_and_gromit Posts: 1,647
    edited May 2014
    To be honest, Bourg d'Oisans is not a particularly good base for cycling in the Alps, especially at this time of year when many of the big Cols are still shut or only partially open. It's actually a bit of a dump and some of the hotels are pretty run-down. There is also a real lack of quiet back roads. For a better selection of roads and more to do away from cycling look at somewhere like Annecy, which is fantastic, or even somewhere around Lake Leman, such as Evian Les Bains.

    I'd agree with the issue of closed roads near BDO at the moment (the Galibier was shut last year until a few days before the Marmotte for avalance blasting!) and the quality of cycling round Annecy. A "Double Forclaz" before breakfast is a good way to start the day!

    However, there's plenty of good cycling roads near BDO that don't spend too much time going up the busy road to the Lautaret. I did all these last summer:

    Alpe D'Huez via Villard Reculas
    Alpe D'Huez via the col de Saranne (need an early start to the barage to miss the traffic)
    The back road up to Les Deux Alpes and then back via the Balcons d'Auris (also need early start)
    The Glandon and then over the other side or to the Croix de Fer
    Vaujany
    Oz-en-Oisans
    La Berade
    A "Double Ornon" is also a good way to warm up for breakfast

    If transport options allow it, it's not that far to Briancon for an assault on both sides of the Izoard. Riding a Wilier Izoard, I just had to do that last year!

    Bourg itself seems pleasant enough, though obviously not as nice as Annecy. A lot of non-town tourist stuff was shut round Annecy when we went for May half term last year (where ironically, the temperature barely rose into double digits at all, and Mrs W&G completed the ascent of the Semnoz in snow.)
  • Per a comment above, there is a very good guide book available from the Tourist office with 30 routes to go at. This looks like the online version.

    http://bike-oisans.com/en/cycling-oisan ... te=com_ocm
  • Once again big thanks to all who have taken time to reply, really helpful.

    We are having a guide cycling with us, and looking at some of rides, we are doing the Glandon, Croix Dr fir? And Chamrousse as well, although one day I will go walking with the Mrs. Got to show willing :D
  • Vino'sGhostVino'sGhost Posts: 4,129
    most of the cols are now open most of the time. Its a good time to go before the hoards of motorbikers and pouting roadie twa ts turn up.

    Have a good time
  • phreakphreak Posts: 2,546
    I appreciate that the whole area is ripe for Tour hunting, but the best rides I've done in that area have been on climbs not covered by the Tour. The road up to Villard Notre Dame has already been mentioned, and it's a stunning ascent. I can also recommend the Parquetout. You can reach it by going up and over the Ornon and it's a bit like a mini Mortirolo.

    http://www.climbbybike.com/climb.asp?Co ... ainID=6312
  • crescentcrescent Posts: 1,102
    I was there exactly a year ago and, due to a relatively late winter, several of the cols were still shut. If you watched the Giro last year you may remember the stage on Galibier was cut short due to blizzard like conditions - that was the day before I flew out and I was a bit worried to be honest, but there was still plenty of cycling available.
    I'd agree to a certain extent about BdO,it's probably not somewhere you would look to stay for a holiday in itself but is absolutely fine as a base for cycling (and people watching with a couple of beers at the end of the day's riding). I also used Prompt.CC (21 bends) for bike hire and they were spot on, the bike was fantastic and well spec'd.
    I did AdH and several of the balcony roads around it. I also did a loop of Ornon and Grand Serre (Col de la Morte). The latter was my first day's riding and was a nice route (about 70 miles) and relatively "easy" as a first day's acclimatisation - the only negative was the long boring drag back to Bourg d'Oisans from Sechilienne which is about 15 miles on a steady uphill gradient on a fairly busy, featureless road. May have been better to do the route in reverse with hindsight. I would say Croix de Fer is a must do - the round trip from Bourg d'Oisans took me about a morning and was absolutely stunning. The scenery on the way up is superb and the descent is absolutely fantastic and will have you grinning from ear to ear. Glandon is on the same road as CdF but was closed when I was there, had I known it was only a few hundred yards beyond the fork in the road I would probably have persevered and walked up just to get the photo opportunity.
    I regret not heading to the little village of Oulles which is only a few miles from Bourg and apparently has a fantastic hairpin laden climb - this is on the road to Col d'Ornon from BdO and again should be only a few hours there and back.
    I'm sure you will have a fantastic time, I'm very jealous - enjoy :D
    Take plenty of warm layers for the descents, it's quite possible to cycle up a climb comfortably in short sleeves but be absolutely freezing on the way down even with extra clothing on - I can't stress this enough, it is bitter.
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