Cycling the Cormet de Roselend from Bourg Saint Maurice (1964m – Southern Approach)

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Monday 30 October 2017

Cycling the Cormet de Roselend from Bourg Saint Maurice (1964m – Southern Approach)

Riding up the northern approach to the Cormet de Roselend from Beaufort in early September had been a hard climb, with an opening 12 km of relentless climbing that hard worn us right out. Now that we were back on the other side of the Roselend, the question was, would it be a hard? The answer, it turned out, was no.

On paper at least the climb is very similar from either side, rising 1150 metres over 19.3km (a 6% average) from Bourg St Maurice compared with 1227 metres over 20km from Beaufort (also 6%), so perhaps we've just gotten a little fitter. Or maybe it is just that the climbing is spread more evenly. Either way it certainly felt like an easier climb on the day.

Starting out from Bourg St Maurice the day after our freezing ascent of the Col du Petit Saint Bernard, it was a pleasant surprise to find the sun shining and the air unexpectedly warm because I'm not sure I could take another freezing descent so soon after the tortuous 28km coming down from the Petit St Bernard.

I went up the climb first, on my own but soon met up with another Brit who was also cycling upwards but had stopped briefly. As it turned out he was evidently a better cyclist than me but was happy to chat and so fairly dragged me up a good 20% faster than I probably would have cycled otherwise. Thank you Justin.

The climb itself was lovely and autumnal in the morning sun. The lower slopes were made up of tight switchbacks through trees, with the sun flickering through the almost bare branches, while the upper portion of the climb emerged onto more open mountainside with expansive valleys and views of several snow capped summits. It was a real treat.

The final approach to the top was a little windy as it was so exposed but with Justin to keep my ego pedalling hard I just about kept the pace. Not sure I could have carried on with him down the other side and back up the other way though.

Sadly, when Esther went back up later in the day, she got the shady part of the day with the sun too low in the sky to shine on the road any more meaning it was quite a different experience. It was still very pretty but not quite the same. At this time of year the sun really does make all the difference between chilly slog and exciting pedalling.

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