A brief description follows of my bike rides during my weeks stay at lake Annecy in the French Alps. I have put them all together in one posting rather than several individual posts. Some of the ride locations can be identified from this photo map of the lake. I have also shown the ride profile rather than a map by way of a change given the nature of the terrain, I thought it might be a bit more interesting. You can access the main ride detail including a route map by clicking the profile image though
1) Lake Annecy
A visit to area usually starts with a circuit of the lake as a loosener ride after a couple of travel and probably and extra day or two without a bike ride. Its about 24 miles all the way round with a nasty little lump in middle at Talloires. My details show a slightly longer distance in the Garmin stats because we started the ride then Cyril couldn’t remember if he shut his tent so we had to make a return to base. Apart from that there is very little of note on the ride.
We started from the site on the cycle path then turned off onto the road at the bottom of the lake and its all road up that side of the lake when you can return to the cycle path as you enter Annecy town at the lakeside park.
2) Montain of Semnoz and Cret de Chatillion
This was the first long climb. It entailed a ride of about 9 miles up to Annecy town on the cycle path and then turn off to to the footslopes of ride up to Semnoz. A climb of about 11 miles mostly a gradient of round 7 or 8% but quite a few stretches between of 8 & 10%. A nicely wooded climb for the most part but towards the top as you emerge from the tree line it is quite exposed. A double espresso was called for at bar at the top and well earned I think.
A very tiring ride but after the coffee stop there follows a magnificent descent of about 16 miles with a little climb or two about half way down around the village of Leschaux, then on down again to St Jorioz by the lake and onto the cycle track back ‘home’.
3) Col de Forclaz
I did this ride alone as by now Cyril had decided climbing wasn’t his thing after the experience of Semnoz.and opted for a ride to the bottom of the cycle track from our campsite a return trip of about 28 miles.
I did this ride from a different direction to my previous ride to the top from. Approaching it this time from the north and starting climb at the top of the climb from Talloires by the lake. Its a longer climb than the other direction but I thought maybe it would not be so steep.. WRONG !!!!
It was a relentless climb of about 6 miles with an average gradient of about 8-9% and a few bits of 14-15%. I just got my head down and rode onward and upward for what seemed ages but finally the last hairpin was acheived and I could see the cafe at the top of the long straight incline ahead.
A brief stop and then the descent of about 5 miles to Vesonne and short hop onto the cycle path and the 5 flat miles back to the campsite.
4) Col de Tamie & Circuit of Lake
This was a gentle climb I discovered back in June with a gentle gradient of about 3 or 4% mostly after a start at about 6% out of Faverges. I managed to persuade Cyril to join me again on this ride. A gentle quiet ride through mainly open country, little or no traffic and no serious inclines.
Again, first a gentle ride down the Cycle track for a six miles to the town of Faverges. A sharp climb up out of the town and though a couple of outlying villages for about 2 miles then it settled into a more gentle climb up to the Abbaye de Tamie close to the top and on the another mile to the summit, albeit a low summit after an altitude gain of about 1500 feet.
The climb is followed by a swooping descent back down to Faverges and gentle enough that the brakes are not needed until the last drop into town and hairpins.
5) Col de Tamie & Albertville
The next day I did the same climb agasin, but solo, Cyril hadn’t been persuaded that climbing was his thing. This time however I carried on over the toil, exploring new ground. What a thrilling descent that was. About 7 miles of hairpins over sparsely trafficked roads enabling a bit of licence taking a wider line around the hairpins.
I dropped down into the back of Albertville and made my way through town and then onto the bottom end of the cycle path the 20 miles or so back to camp.
This was the day of murders referred to in my previous posting and my route took me within a couple of hundred yards of the murder spot but fortunately just early enough to miss all the excitement!
6) Col de Leschaux
My final ride of the trip was to the summit of the Col de Leschaux. Again solo and it entailed a few miles north up the cycle path to Sevrier, just over halfway to Annecy. This was a gentle climb of around 3 & 4% with a maximum of 5% and 8 miles long.
A brief pause at the top and I was on my way down again. I was enjoying the ‘no brakes’ descent again the same as the other day but after a few miles I caught up with 2 cars following a truck down at around 30mph so I had to rein myself in and use my brakes. I had several pictures taken of me by the girls in the back of the Swiss registered car in front of me during the course of the descent. I would sometimes get ‘dropped’ on the straight bits but catch up with them on the bends and come swooping up to the back of the car again and this happened all the way down to the bottom.
I remember thinking as I looked at my Garmin showing speeds of 30+mph that the likes of Mark Cavendish and other sprinters achieve these kinds of speeds and more, up to about 40mph plus ON THE FLAT! in their sprint finishes. It was quite a reality check for me I can tell you.
So thats a brief summary of my rides over the week. I went out every day for a ride and enjoyed every minute of them. It is a real pleasure to ride on French roads. Very lightly populated roads and very smooth and such drivers as there are, are very cyclist friendly and understanding. What with that and the scenery and the weather I can think of few places I would like to cycle more. In fact on my cycling experiences so far I cant think of any, I am just assuming there would be somewhere better. If you know of it let me know and I’ll be there !
Here is a summary of the weeks riding stats :-
Just to say the Max HR must be inaccurate, maybe a blip of some kind because my rate seldom if ever exceeds 154 bpm.