I originally planned this trip to follow the route of the Marmotte, but then changed my mind and plotted a ‘shortcut’ down the Croix de Fer towards the Télégraphe / Galibier.
After all, the passage from the foot of the Glandon in Saint-Étienne-de-Cuines, through the valley to Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne and onwards to Saint-Michel-de-Maurienne, is basically just adding (a lot of) miles to the trip.
In the end, I changed this stage to not include the downhill and / or side trip over the Mollard, and I transferred from the top of the Croix de Fer to Saint-Michel-de-Maurienne by car because it would save us (valuable) time.
Besides, arriving at the summit of the Croix de Fer, I was already tired, with the Galibier still to come and the triple on the Ventoux planned for tomorrow…
Croix de Fer
I enjoyed the Croix de Fer more from this end than I did from the other end two years ago. Apart from the injuries spoiling most of the fun at that time, I think this side is the better, slightly ‘easier’ one anyway.
It ‘meanders’ along the l’Eau d’Olle and offers no hairpin sections, other than the one downhill passed le Rivier and two doubles uphill, some kilometers before arriving at the magnificent Lac de Grand Maison.
Apart from a few hard(er) stretches, it’s not too bad – probably the hardest stretch is the short 11, 12% section past the first descend.
I included the short detour to the top of the Glandon, which messed up the Strava segement recording of the Croix de Fer…
Information page on the Croix de Fer here.
Télégraphe & Galibier
In Saint-Michel-de-Maurienne, I got back on the bike, to first take on the Télégraphe.
While that may be considered “the gateway” to the Galibier from this end, it’s a fairly tough climb in itself, with an average of 7.3%…
The (short) downhill after that and the transfer through the Valloire valley are freebies, but you know you’ll pay for that later, as you still have to overcome some 1,200 altimeters.
The climb up the Galibier was a rather chilly one the second half, which is also the more difficult bit, with the higher grades.
I enjoyed my brief moment of reflection at the Pantani monument at Granges du Galibier to catch my breath and change cloths.
And after the grueling final up the loop, the view from the top of the loop was as I remembered it, but without most of the snow this time.
I was briefly considering enjoying the descend – down the Lautaret – on the bike, but I got in the car instead and we went on to Bédoin; a transfer that took us (a lot) longer than I had hoped for…
Information page on the Galibier (Télégraphe) here.
Trip total: 67.8 km / 3,548 m elevation gain.