The Route des Grandes Alpes

Beginning Sunday, I’ll be undertaking the most ambitious bicycle tour I’ve ever attempted. I’m joining Erickson Cycle Tours for the Route des Grandes Alpes. This famous tour was devised by the Touring Club de France the year after the Tourmalet was added to the Tour de France (1911, to be exact), back when all of these roads were as-yet unpaved.

In broad strokes, the route runs from Geneva to Nice. Along the way, it hugs the French border with Italy and takes in the highest cols in the French Alps. In just 14 days I will (theoretically, at least) ride 1000 miles and climb 100,000 vertical feet.

A typical day will involve words like Galibier, Iseran, Izoard, Cayolle or Bonette.

Such is my sense of fun that I’ve fantasized about riding this route for a good 10 years.

I’ll try to update as often as possible, and I’ve got a few equipment-related posts I’m hoping to finish up along the way, but I probably won’t be too prompt about responding to comments.

I’ll also do a post on the bike I’m riding, a rig perfect for traveling to the mountains.

Have fun out there,



  1. Alex

    So you´re taking the RKP colors to the Alps! Awesome Padraig!

    I´m just back from a similar – albeit mellower – 10 day ridefest through the Pyrenees, L´Ètape included. France is paradise for us roadies. Can you immagine riding in the morning, watching the Tour in the noon and then have lunch beside guys like Sean Kelly, Poulidor and Co.? My body´s back but my mind is still there hehehe…

    The Route of Grand Alps is in my plans too, so I take great interest in your experience. From what I´ve read it´s a dream-come-true for every cyclist who loves climbing, magnificent views and good food.

    Have a good one, and let us know about it! I´m sure you´ll enjoy every second of it!


  2. Lachlan

    Awesome. Enjoy.

    Might that rig be a super light ultra stiff new Felt with 1100 gram aero wheels made by Mavic??? Or am I relating too many posts together?

    If you stop over in Paris give me a shout for a pint or a ride : o )

  3. randomactsofcycling

    And you get to write this off as a Business Trip?

    In Sydney right now: 6:30am Saturday Morning, 14 degrees (celsius), torrential rain, dark.

    I love your job.

  4. donncha

    Just back from France and rode Bonnette, Cayolle, Vars, Lauteret, Galibier and others. Still v. jealous and would love to go back and do more.

  5. Author

    Everyone: Thanks for your supportive comments. I’m primed and ready.

    Souleur: Safe is definitely the watchword.

    Jon, Todd K., Armybikerider, James and Cthulhu: Thanks and stay tuned.

    Alex: Envy goes both ways. L’Etape in the Pyrenees is a day-long pinch-me moment.

    Lachlan: Man, I wish my return was through Paris. I’d take you up on that offer for both a pint and a ride, though maybe the ride first. My ride isn’t a Felt (though I wish it was); I’ll do a post on the bike in the near future.

    RandomActs: Just remember, when you’re having summer, I’ll be suffering the same fate.

    Joao: Compared to Malibu, these descents should be pretty easy, so yes, I gotta stay smart and not get complacent.

    Donncha: Sounds like you had a truly epic trip. Did you go with an organized tour?

    Jim: Roger that, avoid small/small.

    Doug P: This will be my second time doing the Bonette and I really look forward to attacking it. Last time I was escorting other riders and was champing at the bit to light up the afterburners with 5k to go. It’s a terrific climb.

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