Col De La Croix De Fer

Col de la Croix aux Fer in auto Rhône-Alpes is a beautiful beast ns a mountain, commonly tackled from the alpine city of bourg d’Oisans. Steven Herrick, author du Baguettes et Bicycles, has actually this first-hand account de cycling Col du la Croix ns Fer.

Vous lisez ce: Col de la croix de fer

 

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Steven Herrick in front du Barrage ns Grand"maison en cheminement to the summit ns Col de la Croix ns Fer. Photo: steven Herrick

The Col du la Croix du Fer is unlike any other climb in the french Alps. Ce goes up and down, auto road winds through forest then open high meadows, the gradient changes from steep venir relatively easy back to steep in the space du a couple of kilometres. In différent words, the a temperamental bastard.

The Croix ns Fer is a "hors category" climb, 31 kilometres du trying to find a rhythm when thé road varies haricot de soja dramatically.

All this is great enough reason to indulge end breakfast. Anita, mien host at Le petit Catelan B&B in Le bourg d’Oisans, obliges par loading thé table with croissants et baguettes, home-made jams et local honey, all washed down with as much coffee as any tight fitting Lycra-clad bladder have the right to hold. It’ll be mien excuse à la frequent stops aujourdhui while climbing. Elle husband, Jean-Louis wishes me ‘bonne chance’ ont I périodes down thé gravel driveway. The sky is cold blue ont I cruise along thé valley road, a quick wave to the folk at la Cascade, my preferred restaurant in Bourg. I’ll be report in over there tonight à la a few recurperative glasses and perhaps some exaggerated storytelling on how easy ns found Croix ns Fer.

The early on kilometres

A few kilometres along auto RN91, i turn onto auto D526 in Rochetaillee, auto road winding next to a snow-melt stream into Allemont. Thé boulangerie is open on the left, a mrs behind thé counter offer a long queue.

The road turns spicy right and folds end itself with deux switchbacks, leading to the Barrage de Verney, the tons of two dams I’ll encounter today. I climb steadily past a large hydro-electric power station, which likewise houses a musée charting the history de hydro in France.

The gradient increases to 7% et loops right into a forest. I can hear the Eau d"Olle rer below me, tumbling down auto hill. Auto sight et sound de water is always a calming influence, even when pedalling increase a steep incline. Sometimes a stream cascade under thé road and plunges into the river nous the différent side. Ahead du me, auto gradient ramps increase a notch or two et there are enticing glimpses of snowy peaks.

After an hour, je reach the village of Rivier-d’Allemont. Une cafe is seulement beginning à open, auto waiter hoisting umbrellas over the outdoor tables. Hey waves as I pass, and looks increase to the snow-capped mountains, as if encouraging me forward.

Up, up et away...

The road curls uphill right into the forest again and then, oui if emulating the ghost ride at a funfair, plunges ago down into thé valley. I lose one hundred metres in key in a few protocole of exciting descent. Thé road crosses the river and turns back left, thé gradient an altering from -10% à 11% in a couple of hundred metres. Mien muscles ont cramped et gone cold conditions météorologiques the furious downhill et now shout in complain at the effort required to keep the wheels rolling. To my left is a gravel mountain slope through icebergs ns snow clinging precariously. Patches of snow dot thé roadside. My muscles warm and I try to gather a rhythm, mourir on that worthless descent. This is why thé Croix aux Fer is soja feared par cyclists. Cette doesn’t permit steady rhythmic climbing.

And then, as if a reward parce que le the effort, thé road leads to the lundi dam, thé Barrage aux Grand"maison, a exorbitant vista of turquoise lake surrounded passant par mountain peaks. Cette takes je a few protocole to importer my head about a lake at an hauteur of 1,500 metres. I stop and have a swig ns water, snapping a la peinture of the mountains reflected conditions météorologiques the surface ns the lake. Conditions météorologiques the tarif bank, deux pyramid-shaped green hills are dwarfed by snowy montails rearing behind them.

As I’m about to importer on ma bike, a tourist autobus arrives and unloads a party ns camera-happy snappers. One old masculin ignores thé lake and scenery et walks in the direction of me, his eye fondling the sleek present of mien Italian bicycle, which i’ve nicknamed monica B. He says miscellaneous in Italian. I indicate ns can’t speak thé language. Cette smiles et offers to take my photo, with monika B, in front du the postcard lake. I stand proud ont he snaps. As I mount et slowly périodes onto auto road, cette applauds quietly, the way a exploit crowd farewells a player. From then on, i view tourist buses through much more tolerance.

Voir plus: Citation Pour Demander Pardon A Son Amour, Demander Pardon À Son Amour

Beauty and the beast

It’s hard venir adequately describe thé last section. Cette is also beautiful pour words. Thé road winds alongside the lake for a kilometre and I’m enjoyment there’s au sens propre vehicle traffic ont I’m wandering across auto lane, my se concentrer sur is conditions météorologiques the lake and the mountains beyond. Two cyclists paragraphe me et push themselves hard to importer ahead. They are chatting as they cycle, cible neither turns his head towards auto lake. Maybe this is a weekly ride parce que le them, but even so, v that much beauty conditions météorologiques offer?

At auto end of the lake, ns see thé road curly enticely between green alpine meadows dotted v sheep et stone shepherd huts. Rushing streams, choose blue veins, funnel down towards auto barrage. My lallure slows oui I relax into the most beautiful eight kilometer I’ve ever before ridden. Thé pastures of green are sprinkled through wildflowers, the road seemingly crib in an elongated bowl ns steeply-pitched mountains. Dédié Lord ns the Rings meets The Sound du Music.

I’m now cycling among auto snowy peaks I’ve to be yearning to pour the past couple of hours. At any kind of moment, i’m expecting a fairy to show up on mien handlebars et sprinkle some an ext magic dust, so intoxicating is thé view.The gradient doesn’t matter anymore, ns in cycling nirvana. Patches ns snow are within emotional distance et a cafe shows up at the turn-off pour Col aux Glandon, seulement 500 metres up that à côté de road. I’ll visit conditions météorologiques the way back. Ns can watch the fer à repasser cross (Croix de Fer) a kilometre ahead.

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The acier cross atop Col ns la Croix de Fer. Photo: steven Herrick

Monica b responds by breezily cycling up auto last kilometre, the road hugging the green hillside, a slim breeze pushing thé wildflowers right into a tentative bow at thé achievement du we cyclists climbing this high. Too soon, I venir at the mountain pass and slowly cruise into the là park. In former of me are 11, counting them, 11 snow-capped mountains. Behind are 7 more. Alongside me, the ancient cross, et a cafe. A couple of cyclists are having actually their d’image taken in front de the altitude sign. Je wheel Monica b to the end of the car park et drink in that majestic view. Je lean down et consider kissing her handlebars, but make aller with a love pat. Je lean sa carefully against a rock et sit down. Ns come native a land of arid dried plains ont far as the eye can see et further than the rider deserve to cycle. Our mountains are slight forested hills in auto flattest, driest polluant on Earth. This landscape rearing avant me is ont alien and awe-inspiring oui a visit venir Mars. Venir be able venir ride this mountain oz a principale – créé that?

Reward pour effort

Monica B et I pensioner to thé cafe, sitting exterior in auto bright sunshine. In all this beauty, I’d forgotten à check mien time for the climb. From auto Verney - deux hours, twenty one minutes. The meilleur recorded time nous Strava - one hour, nineteen minutes. Can je blame toutes les personnes that beauty pour slowing me down?

Reluctantly, ns shrug into mien jacket et begin the descent, but only for a couple of kilometres antérieur à veering right et climbing briefly to thé Col du Glandon. In a couple of days, ok attempt auto ascent of Glandon and Croix ns Fer from ns Chambre, auto way ns the Tour de France 2012. Je look down the road I’ll it is in climbing. Cette is ferociously steep. Something to look forward to. Favor a visit to auto dentist.

But, parce que le now, ns graciously prix Croix du Fer ‘the meilleur kilometres i have cycled in my life award.’ ns return to the main road and manage auto downhill as slowly oui possible, to enjoy it all over again.

The descent is chilling, with thé short uphill venir Rivier d’Allemont a grind ns frozen muscles et sweating brow. Thé cafe waiter is currently busy v customers, anyone enjoying thé sun outside, watching the work de a couple of hardy cyclists. Into thé forest, the seulement un sound is ns falling water and Monica’s cog whirring fast. Ns clock 60km/h and ease up conditions météorologiques the brakes. When je was young, ns wanted to descendre hills as fast as possible. Now, i prefer to slowly savour thé thrill, discovering my effort has earnt je the reward de this plunging joy.

The deux switchbacks above Allemont take a minute and I pedal to the boulangerie. Auto same waitress indigenous this morning takes mien order de a mille-feuille. I ask si she has water pour my bottle. Elle smiles and animatedly gestures exterior to thé cistern on the footpath, smiling, ‘l’eau du la montagne.’ as she wraps mien cake, I aller outside à fill mien bottle. It"s clear et cold, water ns the Gods.

I sit nous a seat in thé square, eating mien cake et drinking thé entire contents de the bottle. A refill is in order. Je look ago up towards Croix de Fer, auto sun glistens off the snow. Oui if thé climb wasn’t pitié enough, ns fill ma bottle et perform a toast to les montagne.

Climbing Croix de Fer: top tips

From ville d’Oisans, Croix aux Fer is a ‘hors category’ climb de 37 kilometre with année average gradient ns 5.4%. Haute gradient is 13%. Elevation gain is 1505 metres. Nothing think the average gradient makes Croix de Fer an easy climb. Over there are regular steep section and, also worse, a couple of descents mid-climb, the chill her muscles et force more climbing. Pace yourself in thé early forêt section et enjoy auto last eight kilometres. à la me, it"s perhaps auto greatest mountain partie in the Alps. Leave bourg d’Oisans early and have having lunch at the café on the summit. There are also cafes in Rochetaillee et Rivier-d’Allemont.

There room three routes to thé summit de Croix ns Fer – Climb par Bike covers each of them.

Steven Herrick is an Australian author et poet. His livres include Baguettes and Bicycles (UK, US, FR) i m sorry is based nous 1200km bicycle ride across France. The livre is available in tough copy and e-book formats. Steven"s bicycle blog is an excellent insight into cycling in australia (though cette covers lots of différent stuff too).

More informations on cycling Croix du Fer

See comment Croix aux Fer stacks increase against divers Tour de France mountains. See also Stephen Lord"s Freewheeling france guide venir making climbing montails that little bit easier. We ont also climbed Ventoux et Alpe d"Huez.

Voir plus: Vrai Ou Faux? La Paz Est La Capitale Bolivie La Paz Ou Sucre Or La Paz?

Bike rental in bourg d’Oisans

There space a alors of options for bike rental in ville d’Oisans – check out our Rhône-Alpes bike rental listings for details. 

Accommodation recommendation

Search our Where to stay section, in particular check out Chalet Saskia, Le intimement d’Oz et Chalet Paulette, or browse the map below parce que le accommodation parce que le cyclists in the french Alps. See likewise here pour more advice nous finding accommodation in France. Ont with bicycle hire, livre well ahead, particularly in summer.