Cycling the Col de la Madeleine from N90, North Side (2000m)

After four cols in three days, culminating in a real struggle to get to the top of the Cormet de Rosalend, we took a rest day before tackling another Tour de France biggy today, the northern ascent of Col de la Madeleine. At 25.2km and 6.3% average, this monster meant a vertical mile of ascending! (1607m - which is also considered the 'easier' side by the way!) Needless to say we were both a little nervous about how we'd feel on this one after how crap we had felt on the Rosalend two days earlier and which had also had a 6% average gradient and was 5km shorter....but in hindsight we actually found it a slightly easier climb.

Starting out from a handy parking area just off the N90 between Bourg-St-Maurice and Albertville, in the village of Feissons-sur-Isere, the climbing started off into tree lined slopes on a series of switchbacks that soon carried us high above the narrow valley floor. With a couple of 9% sections and the rest at around 7% the opening 7km were tough going, but thanks to our rest day our legs were up to the challenge. An easier 4km followed with a flat and even marginally downhill section before the road kicked up again for another 7km which included one particularly hard portion at 10% and then suddenly eased off once more for another couple of kilometres before the final 5km which was, once again, steep with some more back to back 9% parts thrown in.

On the face of it this should have been harder than the Rosalend yet somehow, probably because of the longish flat sections which broke up the very steep parts, which themselves didn't go on for more than 6-7km at a time, it felt easier despite the fact the Madeleine was longer and steeper on average. It was as almost as though right at the point I wanted to say...."Aaah, when will it end" would actually end for a little while.

Visually this was also a very different sort of climb to the Rosalend, which was a lot of switchbacks through trees with a small number of big rewards in terms of stunning views appearing suddenly. With the Madeleine the overall direction of the route was to track up the eastern flank of the valley, so although there were switchbacks along the way, the final destination was often visible from quite a long way off and the view was more constant along the green and lush hillsides.

Several picturesque villages were strung out along the road as well as some lovely waterfalls and cliffs near the top to break up the view, but it was the view looking back that really wowed me, especially at the top when the bulk of snow topped Mont Blanc sat smack in the middle of the panoroma of peaks. It was lucky really that the clouds blocking this view in the morning when I'd arrived had cleared by the afternoon when I arrived in the camper to meet Esther at the top. We could have, and considered, staying up here as well overnight as we had done at the Rosalend. The pups certainly enjoyed running free and fast all over the deserted evening car park. But with plans to go uphill again in the morning we decided instead to head down to the next valley floor and stay at the motorhome aire in La Chambre ready to get cycling early.



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Adventures In Life, Love, Health & Travel: Cycling the Col de la Madeleine from N90, North Side (2000m)
Cycling the Col de la Madeleine from N90, North Side (2000m)
Adventures In Life, Love, Health & Travel
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