[ blog » 2020 » 08_Tour-Alps ]Epilogue ( by Philipp Gesang, location: my desk)

A Roadbook

  1. 2020-08-08 — Genève → Seyssel (67 km, 580 m)
  2. 2020-08-09 — Tour de l’Ain / Grand Colombier (48 km, 1288 m)
  3. 2020-08-10 — Seyssel → Saint-Michel-de-Maurienne (130 km, 1041 m)
  4. 2020-08-11 — Saint-Michel-de-Maurienne → Les Alberts (79 km, 2292 m)
  5. 2020-08-12 — Les Alberts → Chianocco (73 km, 831 m)
  6. 2020-08-13 — Chianocco → Bessans (66 km, 2049 m)
  7. 2020-08-14 — Bessans → Arvier (119 km, 2284 m)
  8. 2020-08-15 — Arvier → Saillon (113 km, 2072 m)
  9. 2020-08-16 — Saillon → Oberwald (132 km, 1566 m)
  10. 2020-08-17 — Nufenenpass (36 km, 1066 m)
  11. 2020-08-18 — Oberwald → Bern (147 km, 1867 m)
  12. 2020-08-19 — Bern → Brunnen (133 km, 965 m)
  13. 2020-08-20 — Brunnen → Feldkirch (130 km, 1127 m)
  14. 2020-08-21 — Feldkirch → Tübingen (218 km, 1660 m)

A complete map of the route is available on UMAP.

Looking Back

14 days on the road for a total of 1491 km of distance traveled (106.50 km/d, σ 48.2) and 20688 m of altitude gained (1477.71 m/d, σ 567.8). As I had planned I had two “rest” days, one in Culoz for spectating at the Tour de l’Ain and one in Oberwald to pay the Rhône glacier a visit.

Not overly many compromises had to be made; I broke with my original course only once when I had to seek shelter from that thunderstorm in Chianocco instead of continuing over the Petit-Saint-Bernard. By folding the final two days together I ended up adhering to the schedule anyways. Given the unpredictable weather, reserving a few buffer days turned out to be as necessary as it looked on paper. In the Alps it’s only a matter of time that rain and thunder will force you to a halt and delay your ride, so better not plan out your time on the road too tightly. So while the average daily distance ended up significantly less than that of last year’s trip to the UK (124 km/d) or the 2018 tour through the Massif Central at comparable elevation numbers, the shorter sections made this tour possible in the first place.

All things considered I can see the appeal in these short-but-spicy days, they are perfectly appropriate for this kind of terrain where the decision usually isn’t between camping and going a few extra dozen kilometers, but between camping and climbing at least 1000 m to the nearest pass to find a campsite in the neighboring valley.

In retrospect, the hardest day was when I returned to Switzerland via the col du Grand-Saint-Bernard. While not overly steep for the most part, the climb from Aosta is an endless 36 km grind, half of it in dense traffic cause mosts motorists just ignore the tunnel. Also the descent on the Swiss side is on an even busier road that gets less and less pleasant to ride the closer you get to Martigny. Not the most physically intense day, but rather stressful for other reasons.

Colombier, Galibier, Iseran, and Moncenisio were some of the most fun I had on a bicycle. The atmosphere on the Galibier is on par with the Ventoux; it’s clear from the lowest switchbacks en route to the Télégraphe that you are in cycling country. Those slopes are home to a continous procession of serene suffering, shared by every vélophile who ventured to undertake the pilgrimage to the sacred col. The Iseran was similar but seemed to attract a larger share of motorists but that observation may have been distorted by the somewhat worse weather. The Moncenisio ascent however was a true gem; not that many cyclists, but quiet and relaxing for the most part, and a plethora of spectacular vistas in the summit area. Just as it should be.