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.
All of our guests are offered advice on routes and local climbs (every morning if
you are staying at our B&B) and we’ll happily suggest options based on your fitness.
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 duration 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 from our base in the Oisans.
Based on the above, below are an 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
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 60 to 90 minutes.
For advice on how to train for getting a good time up Alpe D’Huez, or just being
well prepared for an effort of that duration, 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. We can even off some training tips to help
you better prepare for your visit.
For advice on what gearing you may need, see the Ascents page.
How fit do I need to be to Climb the Alps?
The short answer is….it probably matters less than you think. If you can manage
a 3 hour ride (even if it’s on the flat) then there will be some great rides accessible
to you here in the Oisans Valley.
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. Keep in mind you will also likely push yourself harder up these kind
of inclines than you would for a normal training ride.