Cycling Col de la Loze from Courchevel
Ride 22.5 kilometers gaining 1,470 meters at 6.4% average grade.
Photographs from PJAMM’s Ard Oostra (CH).
This exceptional bike climb is located in the heart of French Ski Country and in the Graian Alps subrange of the Alps. Col de la Loze is one of the best cycling experiences in Europe as much of its length is on a roadway dedicated exclusively to cyclists and it is ranked #14 hardest bike climb in France.
Road markers each kilometer.
Photo: Starting km marker.
The final kilometer marker is located at the Vallee de Courchevel ski resort.
Summit in cycling season . . .
. . . summit in ski season.
We ride to the top of the mountain . . . no trams for us!
The below Climb Summary was written by Ties Arts, Netherlands (photographs by Ard Oostra, Switzerland):
The cycling world is dynamic and so popular these days. In les Trois Valles in France there is an ambitious plan. A plan to connect les Trois Vallees (which includes the well known ski destinations of Courchevel, Meribel, and Les Menuires) not only via skis but also with visitors on two wheels! The purpose is to make this very popular winter site more attractive during the rest of the seasons for cyclists.
The first step is connecting Meribel with Courchavel. And so Col de la Loze was born, with 2304m altitude. Col de la Loze is the third highest col in Savoie area (after the well know Col de I’Iseran (2770m) and the Galibier (2642m).
Nothing beats the Col de L’Iseran for altitude, but . . .
Col du Galibier is not far behind (below . . . )!
Col de la Loze already existed before this plan, although the last 6 kilometers from both the east and west side were not paved. These have been paved recently and are accessible only to cyclists - a true cyclist’s heaven!!
OCTOBER 2019 CLIMB REPORT BY PJAMM’S ARD OOSTRA (CH)
Col de la Loze from Brides les bains over Courchevel
First tuesday mid-day of October 2019.
As with Meribel to the east, this is an exceptionally scenic and epic bike climb - true bucket list material!
We begin this amazing ride from the 1992 Olympic Village of Brides-les-Bains (population 524 in 2016) in the Savoie department in the Auvergne region of the Graian Alps subrange of the French Alps.
The climb begins at the roundabout at Garage du Grand Pont and Route de Saint Bon by riding up the hairpins on Route de Saint Bon towards Courchevel. The official Col de la Loze climb begins at the roundabout on Route D91A at around 3.4 kilometers in Saint-Bon-Tarentaise (population 2,425 after being merged with Courchevel in 2017 - the sign entering town now reads Saint-Bon de Courchevel).
From the roundabout we wind our way on Route D91A through many ski areas. At Courchevel (1650 meters) we go above treeline - until then the roadway is frequently bordered by forest. While this route does not have the nearly as many hairpins as the Meribel route, the road is in decent condition as it winds its way up the mountain. Although we ride through forest a fair amount of our climb, there are regular open views of the valley below us.
Trees border the roadway for some of the first half of the climb.
While the Courchevel approach to Col de la Loze doesn’t
have the 32 hairpins of Meribel, it has some nice twists.
Before we enter the “bike only” zone 6 kilometers from the top, we encounter moderate to heavy traffic and some heavy roadway and commercial construction - in the off season, there is generally a lot of construction occurring in major ski areas in the Alps. Courchevel is made up of several popular ski resorts and thus there is construction along the route as we climb towards the summit.
Much construction during the non-ski season.
Some nice views along D91A, but they get even better up top.
About 6 kilometers from the top begins one of the greatest cycling segments in Europe. It is here that this roadway is closed to public motorized traffic and only cyclists, pedestrians and authorized motor vehicles are allowed - this is a special 6 km.
It is here that this climbs becomes exceptional.
6 km to the top.
No public motorized vehicles beyond this point.
Although authorized motor vehicles are allowed on the “cycle only” segment.
Unlike the approach from Meribel, we are surrounded (and covered 😃) by ski resorts, runs and lifts.
The last 5 kilometers are the steepest (there is a 500m 12% segment), although there is a brief respite just after kilometer 18 - a 700m -3.5% descent. With the steepest grades come the greatest views. There are panoramic scenes along the “velo only” segment that are exceptional - on a clear day one can also see Mont Blanc to the north-northeast amongst the other beautiful peaks and mountains of the Graian Alps.
Views from the top.
Thank you Ard!