I descended towards Barcelonnette – on my bike this time – in the morning to tackle the Cayolle.
Some two kilometers out of Barcelonnette, you get to the junction of the Cayolle and the Col d’Allos. The latter is also the entry to the climb up to the ski station of Pra-Loup.
Upon leaving Uvernet-Fours, you enter the more spectacular part of this climb, the Gorges du Bachelard. The road has been carved out of the rocks and is spectacular, albeit narrow.
This means any wide vehicle or vehicles higher than 3 meters, will get stuck 🙂 So no trucks, no campers and in fact, there’s not much traffic at all.
After you pass through Chapelle Saint-Blasse, the road widens a bit.
At Bayasse, a short series of hairpins leads up to the second part of the climb.
Those first 15 to 20 kilometers are not so bad, the average grade being modest, almost easy, at some 3.5%.
I was even considering to make the originally planned round trip with the Col des Champs and then return via the Allos.
But that plan evaporated in the last 5 kilometers, the rather hard final of the Cayolle…
As usual, I had only looked at the overall average (4.5%) and probably noted that the graph looked ‘slightly’ steeper towards the end. And although the final 5 kilometers are only 6,8% on average, the inevitable steeper bits were wearing me out…
And as I was fighting gravity, minions were carving parts out of my back again (and with blunted knives)…
I descended back to Barcelonnette, which was actually quite dangerous on account of the 5 million tons of gravel that were sprinkled on the fresh patches of tar – this doesn’t bother you as much when ascending I guess…
After lunch, we headed back to Barcelonnette to go right to the Allos at the same junction where the Cayolle goes left.
This pass is similar to the Cayolle, but the average is slightly higher to make it quite a bit more difficult.
With 20 kilometers, it’s 10 kilometer shorter than the Cayolle, and the summit is 80 meters lower, but that means the average is 5.7%.
Most of it is between 7 and 8, but there’s a easy stretch of 3 kilometers halfway, before les Agneliers.
At the summit there was about as much to do as on the summit of the Cayolle, i.e. nothing, but the descend was a much better treat than the one in the morning.
Back in Barcelonnette, having completed all seven cols, we went straight to the tourist office to get the brevet.
* According to Strava, but that is definitely “off” as the cols have 1,200 and 1,120 meters of elevation gain respectively…