|We're based in Alpe D'Huez near Grenoble. The town is a well known ski resort and from December to the end of April is dedicated to winter sports. During the summer the skis are put away, bicycles brought out and the town becomes a cycling mecca. The main access road from Bourg d'Oisans is well known as a mountain stage for the Tour de France and most days you'll see hundreds of cyclists toiling up the 15km and 21 hairpin bends that make up the Tour stage. The town council even lays on official timing equipment on Monday evenings so you can see how you compare. Fortunately it's a lot more pleasant with an engine to help!|
|The access road to Alpe D'Huez rates as a 5* for motorcycling with www.bestbikingroads.com. Click on the picture above for a better map of the area.|
|You can choose from a number of day trips starting and finishing in Alpe D' Huez. I've suggested a few possibilities below but I'm happy to modify any of these if you have other ideas. In general we're aiming to start around 9.00 / 9.30am and return around 5.00pm but in keeping with the relaxed nature of the days if we overrun a bit that's not problem.
1.Les Grand Rousses. ............................................
A day spent exploring the back roads and small villages in the Oisans area. Lots of narrow roads and spectacular views based around the Grand Rousses mountain range. The exact route is open for discussion but the essence of the day will be to stick to the lower roads, soak up the scenery and enjoy your chosen motorcycle. Refreshment stops will be frequent and we'll be seeking out regional specialities for lunch. Other possibilities could include a visit to the Chartreuse Liqueur Cellars at Voiron. (yes, they do give free samples!).
2. Le Cinq Cols.
This tour takes the opposite aproach. We start high (Alpe D'Huez is at 6000ft) and go higher. The Col de Croix de Fer is at 6800ft and the Col de Galiber is, at 8600ft, the sixth highest road pass in the Alps. In between the two we'll test the brakes with a drop down to 1900ft at St Jean de Maurienne for lunch. A medium distance day - only around 120 miles, but covering five major mountain passes. It takes all day because you'll be wanting to stop to take pictures every few minutes! Expect to see many cyclists toiling up the 10% gradients because the area is a major cycle racing route. The Marmotte race (8th July in 2006) expects the leaders to cover the 174km distance in around fourteen hours. With frequent stops we should do much the same route in about eight! Click here for photographs of this route
3. Route Napoleon.
Based (loosely) around the route Napoleon took on his return from Elba, this is a longer (200+) mile circular route south towards Gap and returning through Briancon. A fair bit on faster roads but we'll still be crossing four cols.
I'm also considering introducing a number of longer, multi day tours. Top of the pile at the moment are :
1.The Verdon Gorge.
Europe's Grand Canyon, the Verdon Gorge is a major feature of northern Provence and has become a huge tourist attraction in recent decades. If you don't know the area their website is a mine of information. It's about 100 miles south of our base but further on the road because of the rural route we'll be taking. Either two or three days depending on what else you'd like to do while we're in the area.
2. The DaVinci / Sepulchre tour.
From our base in Alpe D'Huez to Rennes le Chateau and Rennes le Bain. If you've never heard of Rennes le Chateau, grab a copy of Holy Blood and Holy Grail from Amazon and join in the mystery, but in brief the village has links to the Holy Grail, The Ark of the Covenant, The Knights Templar etc and is a popular Grail hunter destination. Rennes le Bain is just a few miles away and is the setting for Kate Mosse's novel Sepulchre. The villages are in Languedoc, about 30 miles south of Carcasonne and as it's about 300 miles each way the tour would be spread over five days. Side trips could be included if you have any particular destination that you want to visit en route. There's plenty of "mystery of R.le C". websites, but if you'd like to know a bit more about the area try this one
Neither of these tours will run in 2008 as I haven't done enough background work on routes, accomodation etc but if you're interested in either of them for 2009 please get in touch.
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