Col de l’Iseran

So I know it’s been forever since I posted. I got back into the states about a month ago and have been reconnecting with family, friends, work, riding, and the like. Time has been a bit short. That and until I get a new computer for the home, I’m stuck with E’s itty bitty work laptop… Excuses excuses excuses.

But I digress.

I wanted to post about some of my favorite rides in Europe and Col de l’Iseran is definately a top 3 contender.

I did it the very next day after my personal one-man version of La Marmotte, or more accurately; the wildly insane 10 hour bike ride. Needless to say, I felt a bit sluggish getting myself together for the ride in the morning. Then, when I flatted 8 miles into the ride before any real climbing even started, I came one thin hair from turning around and coasting back to the car.

But I’m so glad now that I did it. Iseran is the the real deal. Beautiful.
col de l'Iseran road - amazing.

I grabbed a dark chocolate covered crepe for breakfast and approached the col from the south Bramans side, which someone had told me was the better side. A little harder to get to, so less traffic. Also, the entire route is through national park land, so it is still very wide open. One of the first sights was a huge fort built on the precipice of cliffs, looking into the valley.
fort along col de l'IseranOld fortress along the route
I would have loved to take a day to explore it, but I already had plans…
The road wanders through the valley for a long time, climbing steadily at a moderate rate before opening up out of the trees and becoming very pretty just before Bessans. From there, it’s just amazing.

l'Iseran switchback. before it got steepSwitchbacks are so Euro

I can see the road ahead...Narrow, exposed, steep = mmmm

This was one of those rides where you look around and think “nuh uh…” because nothing else more intelligible comes to mind. You’re too dumbfounded to come up with anything more deep to think. Well that and the road is too steep to maintain rational thought and ride at the same time…


l'Iseranjust before it gets stupid steep

P1010567the top at last

Funny, there don’t appear to be any pictures between the bridge and the top… Narrow, windy, and winding. with cars slowing down to get a good look at the pain which you stopped hiding from your face an hour ago. They give a thumbs up as they go by, taking comfort within their little car. I wished I were them, they were going back down and I was on the hardest part. It may look moderate at 7-8%, but it goes on like that for 13 km after softening you up on the previous 30. Of course, 180 km the day before was still fresh in my legs.

P1010570The B&L sticker strikes again!

Saturdays routeyesterdays route

col de l'Iseranso you can climb closer to heaven…

cafe atop l'Iseranand of course, a snack at the top

The top was very cold. I was glad for the cafe and happily paid whatever ridiculous amount they charged for food just to get a respite from the wind; warm up a bit before the big descent.

Coming back down those flowing switchbacks was a blast, chasing cars like a dog once again. Am I really so different? Well, I do have thumbs.

Made it back to the village where I parked
just another alpine town...
and headed back to the hotel in Grenoble. What a long drive…

Watched some weird French TV
what was that show?

And then packed for the trip back to the UK.
27 kg of good times27 kg of love

Another action packed weekend in the books.


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