Road biking Alpe d’Huez
Probably more than any other French ski resort Alpe d’Huez has proven itself to be a destination for road cycling enthusiasts…. Find out more http://www.alpedhueznet.com/activities/cycling/road-cycling-routes-around-alpe-d-huez
Riding in the Alps is much more demanding than your favourite local route back in the UK. The roads around Alpe d’Huez are the setting for some of the most gruelling sections of the Tour de France but they can be tackled by enthusiasts as well as professionals.
Below is a list of just some of the rides that can be tackled from the chalet, there are hundreds of options available and the tourist information has a dedicated guide that can give you a few more options. There are also lots of cycle hire shops in the town that offer good quality bikes if you choose not to bring yours, and remember check out our events page there might just be a race for you!
Alpe d’Huez 21 hairpin bends
Positive difference in height: 1143m
Distance: 28km return
Undoubtedly one of the highlights of the Tour de France stages the iconic 21 bends can be ridden at any time of year. Snow cover permitting even on a cold, dry winter’s day, the ride can still be possible. However, the most popular time to tackle the challenge is during the summer when an average of 1000 riders completes the climb each day. The start line is situated opposite the EDF station in Bourg d’Oisans (717m) and the official finish point is 14km and 1143 vertical later, on the Avenue Rif Nel in Alpe d’Huez. It is possible to time your ascent with the use of an electronic chip, which records data at various checkpoints along the route. The chips are available to buy or rent from the Tourist Office and then you can check your performance on www.timtoo.com which updates every hour. From May to September the Tourist Office also hands out a diploma to every cyclist or pedestrian who successfully completes the ascent. As prestigious as a Blue Peter badge, the certificates cost €1, all proceeds from which are donated to www.mountain-riders.com – an environmental association dedicated to preserving the beauty of the mountains.
Alpe d’Huez, Col de Sarenne et Balcons D’Auris
Positive difference in height: 1280m
Max. Incline: 12%
The start from the chalet follows 20 of the 21 hairpin bends down to Le Bourg-d’Oisans. The route follows the beautiful valleys of l’Oisans, entering through some tunnels which are all lit. The first part of this route is a good warm up before the gruesome climb up to the col de Sarenne. Once at Lac du Chambon cross the barrage and turn left to Clavans le Haut to col de Sarenne. The drop down and easy climb back into Alpe d’Huez is a welcome cool down.
Alpe d’Huez; Le Bourg-d’Oisans; Allemont; Villard Reculas; Alpe d’Huez
Positive difference in height: 1100m
Max. Incline: 8%
From the chalet follow the 21 hairpin bends down to Bourg-d’Oisans, remember this can be a cold descent! Follow the main road to Allemount, a lovely fast and flat route (unusual in the Alpes!) to warm up for the climb. Just before you enter Allemont take the turning for Villard Reculas, this steady and comfortable climb gives some great views of Lake Verney. Once you enter the village follow through and onto Huez village. The familiar 6 hairpins back to the village offer the only challenge on the ride and is a good chance to push the climb.
Alpe d’Huez; Bourg-d’Oisans; Villard Reymond return
Positive difference in height: 2000m
Max. Incline: 14%
This can represent a difficult day as it includes two big and at times steep climbs. Once in Bourg follow the signs to Grenoble and take the road left sign posted Villard Reymond and col d’Orion (another good and easy climb to combine with the return to the chalet) What is lovely about this climb is there is hardly ever any veichles Once you reach Palud follow the descending road on the left, this quickly climbs steeply once over the bridge and can present quite a challenge but the views are worth it and this is the road you can see etched in the mountain from the chalet, something that so inviting when relaxing with a beer on the balcony. Unfortunately when you reach the top you have to return!
Alpe d’Huez; Bourg-d’Oisans; col d’Ornon; la Morte; Sechilienne; Bourg-d’Oisans; Alpe d’Huez
Positive difference in height: 2750m
Max. Incline: 14%
This round trip is popular among local cyclist, is a difficult day but definitely worth it. From Bourg follow the road to Grenoble and turn left after 2km to col d’Ornon, this is a steady climb on quite roads. Follow the road down the pass to Valbonnais and then turn right towards La Morte. Then go to Sechilienne and follow the road to Bourg. The hardest part of this day as it always is, is the climb back to the chalet, head down and switch off it is worth it in the end!!
Alpe d’Huez; Bourg-d’Oisans; Allemont; Vaujany; col du Sabot; Villard Reculas; Alpe d’Huez
Positive difference in height: 2400m
Max. Incline: 14%
Just like the route above this can be challenging especially the last part of the climb up to the col du Sabot, the is narrow and the tarmac rough with a lot of loose stones so the descent is particularly difficult. The ride from Bourg to Allemont and along the lake is particularly good and fast, a good way to warm up before the 5km climb up to Vaujany. The col itself is a dead end so once you have returned to the lake you will follow the signs for Villard Reculas a great climb with an average gradient of 5%, the final section of the hairpins up to the chalet is a familiar route with the chalet in view from hairpin 7. A great ride and the legs will know it!!
Alpe d’Huez; Bourg-d’Oisans; Lac du Champon; La Grave; col du Lautaret; col du Galibier return
Positive difference in height: 2850m
Max. Incline: 14%
To save the climb back up to Alpe d’Huez you can drive down to Bourg and start from there, this would mean the total ascent would be 1920m and the distance 94km. The road along the RN91 towards Briancon is busy but there is ample room for cyclists, beware there are several tunnels to negotiate along this route up to the col du Lautaret so sunglasses can be a problem! It is a steady and enjoyable climb up to the col and the scenery stunning at times. The final push up to the col du Galibier is 8km and starts off at a 6-7% gradient however save some reserves for the final km that is steep and energy sapping even for the strongest rider. The col itself is narrow at the top and always busy but its great for a memorable photo. Follow the route back to the chalet and enjoy a well earned rest.
Check out: Team Mountain Chalet Sky-Heinz (DVD of the ascent via La Grave, Col du Lauteret)