Col du Galibier

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How Fit do I Need to be to Climb the Alps?

The answer 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:

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)

25 km/h

30 km/h

35 km/h

Est. time Col Du Galibier return (96 km)

5 ¾ hrs

4 ¾ hrs

4 hrs

Est. Time Col de la Croix de Fer return (80 km)

4 ¾ hrs

4 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.