Col d'Iseran tour
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February 12th 2013

 

 

 

 

 

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Just in time, one day in front of the Tour de France, we reach the Col d’Iseran

 

view down to MartignyWe had tried it already five times to ride across that pass and had failed each time. Either it was the bad weather or a road block. This time, however, we were much smarter.

We had chosen the day for our first pass tour of the Col d'Iseran just one day in front of the Tour de France. Because we were sure about one fact. This event will certainly not fail just because a pass is not open. So the French Grand Nation would do everything to make this route open for the bike heroes.

We had booked the nice little hotel Rarnerhof in the middle of the sunny canton of Valais in Switzerland, in July 2007. We caught just the window where the rain front had moved on and the temperature sometimes rose above 35°C in the valley. Therefore it was very wise to plan the main part of the planned tour, at an altitude above 1,500m.

But how should we setup that trip? The “Big Bow” as we had planned it in the past was not a good choice since we would not have sufficient time for a reasonable day trip without to speed. The “Big Bow” as we call it, starts from Martigny across the Grand Saint Bernard pass, then up the Val d'Aosta valley, across the Petite St Bernard down to the village Bourg Saint Maurice, then back across the Cormet de Roselend pass to Chamonix and back over the Col de la Forclaz to Martigny. But this “Big Bow” was already a day trip without the almost 100km detour up to the Col d'Iseran.

In front of the Mont Blanc tunnel just behind ChamonixPlanning this tour became challenging. How could we avoid this riding the whole west side of the Petite St Bernard pass, all the way down to the town Bourg Saint Maurice and without having this end only as back and forth dead end trip? Finally, after lots of beers and discussions, we found the solution.

And that was the result. On our way towards the Col d’Iseran we planned to ride through the Mont Blanc tunnel. Mont Blanc tunnel – everybody whom we asked told us not to do it - too stuffy, hot, it smells, dangerous, we heard hundreds of these arguments before our tour. All nonsense - the reality looked quite different.

Just at the end of the Mont Blanc tunnel on the Italian side, we had decided to just turn right and ride  over to France across the Petite St Bernard pass and our Magellan navigation system showed us a small detour, just after the 3rd serpentine on the west side that followed the valley side almost at the same height along the hills of the Val d'Isere over to the Col d'Iseran pass entry point.

This seemed to look very good. Back from that trip, the same way, except in the Aosta Valley we planned to make a right in Aosta valley towards the town Aosta and the chose to go from there back to Martigny across the Grand Saint Bernard pass. The tour planning was completed, and did fit to the temperature range which we expected during the day. We would pass through the Aosta Valley in the late afternoon and then quickly disappear again to the cool heights of the Grand Saint Bernard.

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