Cycling to the Col de Montgenèvre (1854m) from Briancon

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Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Cycling to the Col de Montgenèvre (1854m) from Briancon

 After 4 hard days riding and one challenging ascent on foot from Briancon our sixth and final day in Briancon saw Esther heading out on her loaned, heavy hybrid (Thomas the Tank Engine) by herself as my knee was in need of a day off. Her destination was the nearby Col de Montgenèvre (1854m) close to the French and Italian border a little to the east of Briancon, an ascent of 14km and rising 580m at an average of 4.1%. However, as with the other climbs we've tackled in this area, the average hides a collection of steep sections along the way. The pass has featured 10 times in the Tour de France since 1949, most recently in the 2011 edition.


Setting off early in the cool of the morning the route out of Briancon was straightforward and followed the same route as our ride into the beautiful Vallee de la Claree, before forking right at La Vachette to begin the climb proper, now with 8km still to go at 6.4% average gradient.

The way from here on the N94 is relatively busy but the road is mostly quite wide, with a few narrower sections through the switchbacks that zig zag through the trees towards the col (leading to a few hairy moments on the descent caused by impatient drivers). However, with nice views back towards Briancon and the hills beyond Esther powered her way to the top in a little over an hour. After a little uncertainty in the route she soon found the col marker in the ski station village of Montgenevre from where the col takes its name and took a quick snap before starting the way back down.




We had also noticed on the map that from the col it would be quite straightforward to descend into Italy and return to France by the nearby Col de l'Echelle making for a nice cycling loop, but we'd decided to save that for another day. So it was that a short while after lunch I was joined once more by Esther, now making it 6 active days in a row in Briancon and adding one more col to her collection. But more importantly having taken another opportunity to enjoy the outdoors and appreciate the scenery on offer in this most beautiful part of the Alps.




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