Le Tour: Part 3 Bourg d'Oisans via Villard-Reymond

The next ride I had planned was yet another mountain climb.  I started by descending into the valley town of Bourg d'Oisans which happened to be the starting point of Stage 19.  I managed to get a few snaps over the crowd.

The loop I had planned was another mountain pass, although this one was along a mountain pass overlooking the river valley, super narrow roads with long unlit tunnels.

As you can see it involved a bit of climbing...

The first ascent was quite tough, gradients were in the 10% range, and the road was super narrow with a series of unlit dark narrow tunnels.  There is something really quite frightening cycling into complete darkness surrounded by rock inside a mountain.  I was more afraid of giant potholes that I couldn't see, as you could hear oncoming cars a long way off.

However the effort was worth it for the amazing views over the valley.  This was only one side of the mountain, once I reached Villard-Notre Dame the ascent should have mostly finished.

After reaching Villard-Notre Dame I headed to Villard-Reymond through an unsealed gravel road which was mostly flat but at high altitude.  At this point I was starting to get cold, it was about 22ºC in the valley and a good deal cooler this high up. Also it started raining and I had no rain gear whatsoever.

The descent was a little hairy, being mostly gravel not as bad as the first day's route as it was a lot harder packed, however the verge was very steep, and about 1000m down or so...  Suffice to say I took it easy around the corners.  Boy was I glad to have a bike with 28mm tyres rather than little 23mm skinnies.  Even then I was a wee bit wary.

Finally I reached Villard-Reymond and the paved road came back, not the smoothest of roads but greatly improved.  At this point I was starting to get quite cold, only having a jersey and knicks and starting to get wet from the rain.  The descent was nice and quick, each few hundred metres I descended it started to get warmer and warmer.

Finally I reached the valley and found a whole lot of other cyclists going through there.  I started striking up a conversation with another guy about Mr Ramen.  What I wasn't looking forward to was ascending Alpe d'Huez again to get to where I was staying on the 16th hairpin, which meant climbing the first 5 hairpins, also the hardest...  Still I made it back in once piece.  I have a few more rides planned so stay tuned.


  1. Wow. Your photos are spectacular. I feel like I'm riding with you. Any way to enlarge your photos (other than clicking each one) in your posts? They are way too lovely to enjoy in tiny view.

  2. Thanks! Yep thanks for the feedback, I think the default setting for photos are medium which end up too small, so I've now put them all on x-large. Should make it easier to see the pics without having to click.