The answer is.....it doesn’t matter! As there are no fixed itineraries or point to
point tours, Cycling Ascents can create a route to suit you, based on your fitness
or even on how you feel on the day.
However, having said that, if you really want to make the most of your cycling holiday,
and if you also aim to ride some of the big climbs in this area of the Alps then
it is better if you are comfortable doing some fairly long rides. Here is some guidance
on how long you should expect to spend in the saddle, and therefore how fit you should
aim to be:
A rough rule of thumb I use is that rides in the mountains are at least 50% tougher
than normal ‘rolling’ terrain (by rolling think a mix of flat and hills, but nothing
steep or long).
This means if for example you normally take 3 hours to ride 90 kilometres on a group
ride (not racing) on this kind of terrain, expect it to take around 4 ½ hours in
By the same token, for speeds, if you normally average 30 km/h for example then you
can expect something around 20 km/h on most routes we will be taking you on.
Based on the above, I have calculated a estimated range of times for climbing the
Col du Galibier and Croix de Fer for out and back rides:, based on your normal average
speed for rolling terrain:
Normal Average Speed (rolling terrain)
Est. time Col Du Galibier return (96 km)
5 ¾ hrs
4 ¾ hrs
Est. Time Col de la Croix de Fer return (80 km)
4 ¾ hrs
3 ½ hrs
So to give yourself a good chance of enjoying these climbs, do your best to ensure
that you are able to ride for the times stated above during training rides before
your holiday. You will also likely push yourself harder up these kind of inclines
than you would for a normal training ride.
Just as there is always an exception to the rule, Alpe D’Huez is a little different!
As it is so close to Bourg D’Oisans, and goes straight up the mountain, on average
it is much shorter and steeper than most other rides you will do. It is more difficult
to estimate how long it might take you as some people will be going as hard as they
can - Alpe D’Huez seems to do that to you! Most people will complete the 12 km in
around 1 to 1 ½ hours. For my advice on how to train for getting a good time up
Alpe D’Huez see the Training for Alpe D’Huez page.
If you have any questions or concerns about preparing for your cycling holiday in
the French Alps, or want more information to decide whether it is the right thing
for you, please feel free to Contact us.
For advice on what gearing you may need, see the Ascents page.