Tag Archives: Oisans

Forgotten Climbs of the Oisans: Part 2 – Maronne

22 Jul

Situated to the east of the Alpe d’Huez, Maronne is a satellite station for the main resort. The ascent is narrow and winding with some steep sections.

The climb starts at the foot of Alpe d’Huez. You climb the first 5 bends until you reach La Garde-en-Oisans. The first few bends of the Alpe are notoriously punishing and must be approached with caution.

At La Garde you turn right and pass over the Sarenne river before continuing climbing to the village of Armentier. The gradients here are misleading; the climb does not appear hard as it is a straight road surrounded by trees and thus there is little perspective of how steep it really is! Looking back at the profile, there are some sections of 14%!!

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A left turn in Armentier en Haut leads you on to the Climb to Maronne – 5km at 7%. The climb is covered by pine forest and so offers plenty of shade unlike its more famous neighbour.

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The climb is not as hard as the averages suggest with some flatter sections offering some respite. The climb finishes at 1500m altitude with some great views over Huez village and the 21 bends. The climb can be made part of the Traverse d’Oisans or you can just descend back into Bourg via the same route.

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Strava – http://app.strava.com/segments/4254338 (note the KOM)

Next up – Col du Sabot

Forgotten Climbs of the Oisans: Part 1 – Villard Reymond

9 Jul

In the week leading up to the Marmotte, riding in the Oisans is hectic. The roads are busy with cars and cyclists. However most ignore the lesser-known ascents in favour of Alpe d’Huez and co. Whilst the smaller climbs may lack the prestige of their neighbours, they provide some of the steepest, most beautiful rides in the area.

The climb to Villard Reymond is hard – 9km at 8.5% from La Pallaud. The climb twists and turns up the side of a ravine under the cover of pine trees until opening onto a mountain plain at 1610m altitude.

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The gradient is never constant – short ramps are followed by brief periods of rest. The first 2km offer a nice introduction. You begin climbing straight away however the gradients are not too severe. The middle section is really tough; the hairpins had me prodding at the levers in the faint hope that there was still another gear. The final 1.5km proved easier as I wound through fields towards the village.

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Above the fields soar two 3000m peaks – Le Grand Pic d’Ornon and Le Grand Renaud. The village has 37 inhabitants and is famous for its production of Génépi – alpine plants that are used for the production of liqueurs such as Chartreuse and Absinthe. Once at the top you have the option of continuing to Villard Notre-Dame and descending back into the valley through a succession of long unlit tunnels. However the road joining the two villages is poor and is better ridden by mountain bike. I prefer to avoid the tunnels and enjoy the technical ride back down. Below is a picture of Hattie at the top modelling her Alpe d’Huez cycling jersey and waterbottle.

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Strava – http://app.strava.com/segments/1677004

Next up – The climb of Maronne (and hopefully a Strava KOM!!!!)