Impressive storms hit Alpe d’Huez days before the Tour de France comes to the region.

Just two days before the Tour de France is set to pass through the valley and four days before the final mountain stage on Alpe d’Huez, a huge storm has broken the 6 week long heatwave causing multiple mudslides and closed many roads in the area. Local authorities are already out trying to clear the roads. Its yet to be seen if there has been any serious damage to the Tour de France route.

    Mud slides between Bourg d'Oisans and Venosc close the road in 2 places - Photo by Daan Goos
Mud slides between Bourg d’Oisans and Venosc close the road in 2 places – Photo by Daan Goos

In April, damage to the Tunnel du Chambon and fear of a huge mudslide from the hill side above forced the closure of the tunnel and road between Bourg d’Oisans and the Col du Lautaret/Col du Galibier. The road remains closed today and has resulted in the change of the route for the final mountain stage of the Tour de France which will now pass over the Col de la Croix du Fer, rather than the Col du Galibier on the way to Alpe d’Huez this Saturday. All work on the tunnel has stopped until nature takes control and this part of the mountain finally collapses. Hopefully this storm will trigger the predicted rock slide, so that work on repairing the tunnel and road can start again.

Update – Wednesday 22nd July. The sun is shining again and the clean up is underway for the many landslides in the area. The road to Venosc and La Berarde is open again, but there are set of traffic lights in place as local authorities clear the roads of debris.

Mudslide blocking the road to Venosc and La Gerarde
Road cyclist picks his way around the mudslide on his way to La Berarde

 

 

 

8 July 2015 update to the Tunnel du Chambon and the impact on the Tour de France.

8 July 2015 update to the Tunnel du Chambon and the impact on the Tour de France.

The latest on the Tunnel du Chambon is that work on the tunnel has totally stopped, since they expect the side of the mountain above to fall at any moment. Small sections of rock have already fallen and some people are camped up high on the far side of the reservoir hoping to witness the collapse of the mountain. Access to the path on the far side is strictly closed and the ferry service has been stopped due to the fear of waves that would be caused by the rockfall. Local residence below the dam have been warned to keep doors and windows closed in the event of warning sirens, in the unlikely event that a wave could flow over the dam and flood villages downstream. A helicopter service has been put in place available to locals trapped on the far side in the case of emergencies.

The area of unstable rock is about25 – 30 meters deep and 600k to 1 million cubic metres. Since April it had been moving between 5 to 10 cm per day. More recently it been moving at 12 cm to 15 cm per day.  Since 2nd July a  section of 100k cubic tonnes has been moving at 25 cm per day which is looking like the first area to slide. Small sections of the mountainside have already started to slip into the reservoir.

As an impact of this road closure Stage 20 of the Tour de France on the 25th July between Modane and Alpe d’Huez no longer passes over the Col du Galibier, but via the Col de la Croix du Fer.

Tour du Plateau d'Emparis - Bike Oisans
Tour du Plateau d’Emparis – Bike Oisans

Many people booked into accommodation in La Grave or Briancon hoping to see the Tour de France on Alpe d’Huez, have been asking about the possibility to bypass the tunnel my mountain path or track. As mentioned before, then path along the other side of the reservoir is closed and this is being strictly enforced by local police. The quickest road route is via the Col du Galibier and the Col de la Croix du Fer. However there is a very long, but beautiful option above the tunnel via the Plateau de Emparis. This track is unpaved, generally used by walkers and mountain bikers and will take a long time, but is spectacular. Details of this route can be found via the following link under Tour du Plateau d’Emparis – itineraire 4.

Tunnel du Chambon closed. Revised opening dates, ferry and new road

8 July 2015 update to the Tunnel du Chambon and the impact on the Tour de France.

The latest on the Tunnel du Chambon is that work on the tunnel has totally stopped, since they expect the side of the mountain above to fall at any moment. Small sections of rock have already fallen and some people are camped up high on the far side of the reservoir hoping to witness the collapse of the mountain. Access to the path on the far side is strictly closed and the ferry service has been stopped due to the fear of waves that would be caused by the rockfall. Local residence below the dam have been warned to keep doors and windows closed in the event of warning sirens, in the unlikely event that a wave could flow over the dam and flood villages downstream. A helicopter service has been put in place available to locals trapped on the far side in the case of emergencies.

The area of unstable rock is about25 – 30 metres deep and 600k to 1 million cubic metres. Since April it had been moving between 5 to 10 cm per day. More recently it been moving at 12 cm to 15 cm per day.  Since 2nd July a  section of 100k cubic tonnes has been moving at 25 cm per day which is looking like the first area to slide..

As an impact of this road closure Stage 20 of the Tour de France on the 25th July between Modane and Alpe d’Huez no longer passes over the Col du Galibier, but via the Col de la Croix du Fer.

Tour du Plateau d'Emparis - Bike Oisans
Tour du Plateau d’Emparis – Bike Oisans

Many people booked into accommodation in La Grave or Briancon hoping to see the Tour de France on Alpe d’Huez, have been asking about the possibility to bypass the tunnel my mountain path or track. As mentioned before, then path along the other side of the reservoir is closed and this is being strictly enforced by local police. The quickest road route is via the Col du Galibier and the Col de la Croix du Fer. However there is a very long, but beautiful option above the tunnel via the Plateau de Emparis. This track is unpaved, generally used by walkers and mountain bikers and will take a long time, but is spectacular. Details of this route can be found via the following link under Tour du Plateau d’Emparis – itineraire 4.

The closure of the Tunnel du Chambon in April, linking Bourg d’Oisans to the Col du Lautaret and beyond, has sparked widespread discussions amongst the locals and cyclists planning to visit the region, such as when will it reopen, are they building a new road and can cyclists use the ferry to bypass the tunnel?

Tunnel du Chambon
Tunnel du Chambon

On the 10th April the Tunnel du Chambon was deemed to have an extremely high chance of collapsing and was immediately closed, with initial reopening dates suggested for early July. More recent surveys have shown that up to 100 000 m2 or 250’000 tonnes of rock are shifting around 10cm everyday, threatening collapse the entire tunnel. As such the reopening of the tunnel is very much in doubt, but the authorities hope to have a solution in place prior to the opening of the ski season in December.

Chamnon alternative routeOne of the solutions put forward, is to build a reinforced structure within the existing tunnel. However the extent of the problem has forced the local authorities to sign off on a new road on the south side of the lake, which they hope to have built by the winter. Whether they intend to build and maintain two roads up the valley, or to concentrate their efforts on building one reliable route remains to be seen.

Revised route for La Marmotte 2015
Revised route for La Marmotte 2015

The consequences of this for cycling tourism is that the only road leading from Le Bourg d’Oisans towards La Grave, Col du Lautaret, Col du Galibier and Briancon is essentially cut off. This has already lead to the rerouteing of La Marmotte Granfondo and almost certainly the  penultimate stage of the Tour de France from due to race from Modean to Alpe d’Huez over La Galibier on the 25th July. La Marmotte will now return to the Alpe d’Huez valley via the Col du Mollard and the Col de la Croix de Fer. The Tour de France is very likely to follow suit.

Kevin from Cycling Ascents taking the ferry around the Chambon
Kevin from Cycling Ascents taking the ferry around the Chambon

One of the most talked about topics amongst locals and cyclists planning a trip to the region, is the possibility of using a ferry to bypass the tunnel and get to up to the Col du Galibier. The ferry has been provided for locals stranded on the La Grave side of the tunnel to access shops and schools in Bourg d’Oisans and Grenoble. However I recently spoke to Kevin from Cycling Ascents in Bourg who, last week with some of his cycling clients, successfully used the ferry without a problem and achieved one of the most magical climbs of the Col du Galibier, thanks to almost zero traffic. However he went on to add that yesterday (21st June) his guests were turned away and told that “that due to the risk of a rockfall into the reservoir they weren’t taking anyone with bikes – only locals on business.

So officially, for the moment, the ferry is not an option for cyclists. However pressure from business owners in La Grave, at the Col du Lautaret and the Col du Galibier, that are experiencing a catastrophic effect to their trade from the closure, may force some changes here in the future.

With all this in mind, the Oisans region still has more than enough routes to keep every cyclists satisfied. Including amongst many others, routes to the following places. Col du Galibier, Col de la Croix de Fer, Alpe d’Huez and the Sarenne valley, Les Deux Alpes, Col de La Morte, Col d’Ornon and La Berarde.

double size 432x278mm masterBike Lodging is based in Le Bourg d’Oisans and helps cyclists find and book bike friendly accommodation such as that of Cycling Ascents. We still have options for La Marmotte, the final week of the Tour de France and for the Alpe d’Huez Triathlon.

Chalet sleeps 5 available for Alpe d’Huez Tour de France week

2 bedroom chalet available for 3rd week of Tour de France
Chalet available 3rd week of Tour de France

Due to another cancellation for €800/wk, we now have available, this beautiful two bedroom chalet in Bourg d’Arud, just along the valley from Le Bourg d’Oisans and the start of the climb to Alpe d’Huez. Totally renovated in 2014, the chalet has a modern kitchen and charming living room, a double and a triple bedroom with one IMG_0885modern bathroom. It also have a large sunny terrace with views over the Ecrins National Park. The chalet is ideal for a small family or a group of friends. It is a short walk from an open air swimming pool, tennis courts, tree top adventure trail, bars and restaurants, small campsite shop with freshly baked bread and the gondola link to the mountain resort of Les Deux Alpes with summer skiing and the vast network of mountain bike trails.

Tour de France 2015
Tour de France 2015

However the position is of particular interest to road cyclists thanks to the proximity to the foot of the Alpe d’Huez and various other famous climbs. The property has just become available again from the 19th – 26th, thanks to a recent cancellation. During this week, it will be possible to ride to three different location to watch the Tour de France on three different stages. In locations such as the Col du Morte, Allemont, the Col du Glandon, the Col de la Croix du Fer and of course the Alpe d’Huez.

The price for these seven nights self-catering would be just €800.

For more information, or to make a booking, contact us on enquiries@bikelodging.com

Tour de France changes to Alpe d’Huez stage 20 – Tunnel du Chambon

As expected, the route for stage 20 of the 2015 Tour de France from Modane to Alpe d’Huez has now officially been changed due to the closure to the Tunnel du Chambon. Rather than passing over the Col du Glandon, it will now climb the Col de la Croix de Fer. Details on the official Tour de France website.

Revised route profile for the Tour de France 2015 Stage 20 from Modane to Alpe d'HUez
Revised route profile for the Tour de France 2015 Stage 20 from Modane to Alpe d’HUez
Tour de France on Alpe d'Huez
Tour de France on Alpe d’Huez

 

 

 

 

 

Bike Lodging still have some accommodation available close to the Alpe d’Huez during this week, such as the Chalet Chardon in Venosc which sleeps 5 people for €800 for a week self-catering. We also have a 3 bedroom apartment in central Bourg d’Oisans for €1100. For details contact enquiries@bikelodging.com.

Revised route for La Marmotte 2015 to use Les Lancets de Montvernier

Revised route for La Marmotte 2015
Revised route for La Marmotte 2015

Here is the official revised route map and profile for next months Marmotte cycling event. Following the forced closure to the Tunnel du Chambon for emergency repairs, authorities have had to change the course of the 2015 Marmotte. What is interesting about this years route, is that similar to the 2015 Tour de France and the 2015 Etape du Tour they will now also incorporate the short but impressive set of 18 back to back hairpin bend Lacets de Montvernier(switchbacks) of the Lacets de Montvernier. Les Lancets (French for loop or hairpin), dates back to the 1930’s and is just 4km long, with an averaging gradient of around 8%. The majority of switchbacks are concentrated to within a 2.5km stretch, resulting in a corner every 150m. Although being climbed for both the Tour de France, the Etapt du Tour and now La Marmotte, descending this road quickly is seen as a hugely technical challenge and requires great breaking and cornering skills.

Revised profile for La Marmotte 2015
Revised profile for La Marmotte 2015

 

 

 

 

 

Tunnel du Chambon open Sundays to Cyclists!

Tunnel du Chambon - Cycling
Tunnel du Chambon – Cycling

It is being suggested that the Tunnel Du Chambon may be open to cyclists every sunday, during the current closures, so that cycling tourism can get from Le Bourg d’Oisans to La Grave and the Col du Lautaret. However the report suggests that this will only be from 10am until 12pm. I guess this will have to be a fast ride up and back, or perhaps do the Marmotte route in reverse.

If this is the case, it would suggest that it might also be possibly for the tunnel to be opened to cycling traffic for events such as the Marmotte and the Tour de France (should repairs be delayed), although no suggestion has been made.

More information to follow as it come to us.

Car free cycle path. Le Bourg d’Oisans – Allemont

Annecy - Albertville car free cycle path
Annecy – Albertville car free cycle path

One of the highlights of visiting the lake and mountains around Annecy for a cycling trip is the 45km paved road which links Annecy to Albertville. The road starts along the banks of beautiful Lac (Lake) Annecy and largely makes use of sections disused railway. The paved road is closed entirely to motorised vehicles and creates a safe family friendly alternative to the busy roads in the area.

Those visiting the Oisans region, no doubt attempt on the Alpe d’Huez, will almost certainly have experienced the dangerous long straight road into Bourg from the Grenoble or Allemont direction. This extremely busy section of road is the main artery through the region on the way from Grenoble to Briancon and onto Italy. Things have improved slightly over the years with the creation of sections of bike lanes.

Existing trail running close to the busy road section from Bourg d'Oisans
Existing trail running close to the busy road section from Bourg d’Oisans

However, out on an early season mountain bike ride this morning, I was reminded of how simple a solution there is to the problem. On either side if the local river ‘La Romanche’ are raised flood barriers both with smooth gravel roads, which are already popular with mountain bikers and walkers. I would hope there would be little resistance if one of these were paved and turned into the purpose built, car free cycle path that the areas so desperately needs.

These paved roads would not only link the two major valley towns of Le Bourg d’Oisans and Allemont, but also around Lac du Verney and the lakes created from former quarries east of La Vert.

Lets hope the powers that in Bourg and Allemont be sit up and take note of the success of the cycle only roads around Annecy.

La Tarentaise – Road Biking and Mountain biking

Sainte-Foy-Tarentaise-mapLa Tarentaise region of the French Alpes offers an extraordinary location for both Mountain biking and Road cycling. Access by plane from Lyon or Geneva and by train and motorway right to the heart of the valley make this an extremely simple area to get to with your bikes. The region runs along the Isere river valley and comprises of a number of huge mountain resorts made famous for skiing in the winter and a couple of large valley towns.

Road Cycling – The region is also a popular for road cyclists, with classic routes such as the Col de l’Iseran (2764m), the highest paved road in the Alps, Col du Petit Saint Bernard (2188) and the Cormet de Roseland (1968m). In addition, spread along the valley are a number of well maintained resort access climbs to explore. The valley floor and balcony roads provide the perfect recovery day rides, to explore a number of beautiful villages and hamlets throughout the area.

6056620769_0c6bc4b7bd_oIdeal for families wanting to get their first taste of cycling in the Alps, located on the 12km stretch between Bourg St. Maurice and Aime is a flat paved piece of road dedicated to cyclists, rollerblades and pushchairs.

As well as bike related sports, the region offers hundreds of other activities to keep families, children happy for the duration of your holiday. Open air swimming pools, rafting, paragliding, summer luge, summer skiing (Tignes), hiking, swimming lakes and of course skiing throughout the winter.

999583_10151644169277911_919742052_nMountain Bike – With a large concentration of high altitude resorts, with modern lift systems most are embracing the explosion in popularity of all forms of mountain biking. Many resorts have now adapted their lift system to encourage mountain bikers with bike parks and mountain bike only trails crisscross the region.

Vast networks of interlinking resorts such as the Trois Vallee and the Paradiski offer massive amounts of varied terrain and trails to explore. Links from the valley such as the Arc en Ciel from Bourg Saint Maurice and the Moutier Meribel gondola extend the riding possibilities below the skiable level through the single track forests on the lowers slops leading to the valley.

Tignes/Val d’Isere located at the end of there valley has focused much of its attention on developing a huge selection of manmade downhill tracks with loads of interesting, jumps north shore and huge berm sections. As with most places in the Alpes single track is everywhere, but often shared with walkers, so attention must be taken during busy periods. The area is service by 5 chairlift and gondola as well as uplift services from satellite villages, all of which are FREE during the summer.

Saint Foy Tarentaise is for those who love natural, flowy, breaks off single track. Similar to the winter, this resort, with just a handful of chairlifts is ideal for those who love to head back country with a full backpack and a map.

Screen Shot 2014-03-19 at 16.24.33Les Arcs is home to some of the best cross country, single track and downhill trails in France. With an altitude drop of over 2000 meters and trails all the way into Bourg St. Maurice, the area promises trails for all level and style of rider.

La Plagne – The altitude range is from 2739m down to 690m. Recent development have seen huge advances for mountain biking in the highest parts of the domain, through the village sites, right down into the valley and along the banks of the Isère river. The area and altitude range accessible from both the summer lift system as well as free busses provides a vast area for mountain bikers to explore.

Other popular resorts in the region include Courchavel, Meribel and Val Thorens (Les Trois Vallee) and La Rosier

Guide to road cycling in the Tarentaise – Thanks to www.Saintefoy-Tarentains.com

Download Tignes/Val d’Isere MTB trail map – Thanks to http://public.tignes.net

Download Saint-Foy-Tarentaise MTB trail map – Thanks to www.saintefoy-tarentaise.com

Download Les Arcs Mountain Bike Trail map – Thanks to www.lesarc.com

Download La Plagne Mountain Bike Trail map – Thanks to www.la-plagne.com

Download Meribel/Les 3 Vallees Mountain Bike Trail map – Thanks to www.mountain-summer.meribel.net