Cycling in the French Alps
Cycling in the French Alps
A guidebook to nine of the most picturesque cycling routes through the Alps of south-east France. The eight circuits, plus the Grand Traverse from Geneva to Nice, include the classic high passes of the French Alps (Galibier, Iseran, Izoard, etc) as well as cycle routes in the pre-Alps and Southern Jura. More...
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One can happily sit down and read these books even if one has no intention of heading for the destinations. True, the well-laid out route summaries and itineraries will be less useful than if one is exploring, as will the logistical information on accommodation, food and transport.
The general information will set the scene and then you can read the book and admire the photographs and be transported by poxy-cycle to the mountains and valleys of the Alps. If you are tempted, there is a vast array of useful information to help you plan. Each tour is divided into daily sections, which can be a little frustrating if that schedule does not suit, but in mountainous regions it is often better to think in terms of height gained and time taken rather than distance covered. In any case, the authors recognise the needs of cyclists of different abilities and ambitions, and alternative itineraries are suggested. Much of this is in tabulated form, a particularly useful feature of this series of guides.
Cycling in the French Alps features nine tours, including a circuit of Mont Blanc and a Grand Traverse of French Alps from Geneva to Nice. It is hard to turn a page without finding more stunning scenery in the photos that adorn this guide. Many of the passes crossed will be familiar to followers of 'Le Tour', if only in name. Other, lower, flatter sections may be less familiar, but are present, all the same. Whilst there are mammoth ascents the gradients are often very good, another useful feature of the route descriptions is that they highlight the steepest gradients and how long they go on for! Not everyone will wish to anticipate this, but others will relish such knowledge either because they look forward to the challenge or can happily count down to the end of the agony. Interestingly, the author gives a less optimistic portrayal of French drivers than is often the case. Even so, he would have had to paint them in a much darker and more lurid colours to prevent folk being tempted by this excellent book.
Cycling World, October 2008
Nine challenging routes for more experienced riders looking to follow in the tyre tracks of the great champions. Henderson's informative, conversational delivery, coupled with accessible maps, demonstrates an intimate knowledge of the region. Small enough to fit in a bar bag or jersey pocket, it makes a superb companion for sportive riders and seasoned tourists alike.
Michael Stenning, London Cyclist, August/Spetember 2008
Nowadays, many people combine the sports of mountaineering and cycling. There are obvious cross-training benefits to be derived, and cycle touring is a great way to have the experience of being among the big mountains and have the freedom to cover comparatively long distanced quite easily.
Crossing a big mountain pass by bike, even the multi-geared modern lightweight tourer, requires a high degree of fitness and is immensely satisfying on many levels. the mountain peak-bagger has his equivalent in the pass-bagger in the cycle world.
The guide to the French Alps describes nine challenging tours of approximately a week each, though it would be simple to combine two or more to make up longer tours. The stages average 50 to 80 kilometers per day with an average height gain of between 800 and 1500m. There are clear maps of the routes with profiles to show ascent/descent and lots of useful information on accommodation, supplies and transport. The photographs are superb and make one eager to plan for the next expedition.
All of the tours described are loops, thereby simplifying transport arrangements. Three of the tours pass through Grenoble, which you can fly to directly from Dublin.