2017 Tour of The Alps
Day 3 - Route des Montagnes: Col de l'Arpettaz

Mindful of yesterday's efforts, for today's ride I thought that I would remain close to the Piste Cyclable in case my energy levels dropped, but with Meteo de France (they of the incredibly accurate forecasts) suggesting that today would be the warmest day of the week and the only day with complete blue skies, then I had to ride the Route des Montagnes to the almost unknown Col de l'Arpettaz. I was saving this for the final day but in the mountains plans have to be flexible and you will soon see why.

The ride started with just over an hour of the Piste Cyclable, almost as far as Ugine for a narrow and steep road up through the tiny villages of Les Rippes and the strangely and similarly named Mon Dessous and Mont Dessus. Up through the forest, it was a climb of 1 hour and 45 minutes to reach the Auberge at the Col de l'Arpettaz. This route does not have the usual kilometer markings with gradients and it was only when I was caught up by Bardet's Uncle that I knew how far it was to the top. We rode the last 3km together - the only trouble was that his English was worse than my French. It is a crazy road that goes from nowhere to nowhere via nowhere but the view from the top was amazing. There is a track to yesterday's Col de Aravis and snow-capped peaks, like a row of Toblerone taunting the hungry cyclist, were present in the background. The road surface was poor in places, so good to ascend this side and descend via Hery to Ugine.
The Piste Cyclable - I think this answers why I keep returning
The view from the Col - unmade road to Aravis on left, Mont Blanc in the distance
I had an omlette for lunch - Bardet's Uncle has something that looked like Tartiflette's unhealthy cousin, but lots of calories are needed for days like this. We said our farewells and I started the descent towards Ugine. Round a couple of corners and I had to keep stopping to take photos of the view over Mont Blanc -it was stunning. Completely pointless taking photos like this with a phone rather than a camera, but I just had to. Another reason to climb through the forest, you have earned the stunning vistas. I could also see Le Giettaz where I had lunch yesterday
The Massif de Mont Blanc - why have I not got a camera?
The Col tops out just below 1,600m - a climb of almost 1,200m. The descent seemed to go on forever, starting on the narrow road and then joining the D109. This was a proper 2 lane road with white lines and everything, just no traffic. In 12km I saw 3 cars, and one of those was parked up. The views over the town of Ugine were great (as long as you don't look at the massive factory). It was no wonder that the climb up was so hard. Climb by bike, with a different starting point to mine, has an average of 7.1% with 7km above 8%.

I started back towards Annecy on the Piste Cyclable but as it was still relatively early, I took a detour up the Col d'Epine. The climb is less than 7km, but in the heat of the day with consecutive kilometers above 7%, this was a tough climb. It featured on the tour stage that Jane and I saw back in 2013 down in Faverges.
The first of two bonus Cols in the afternoon stage
After the col, I had a nice descent down to Serraval where I then had an easy 3m climb to the Col du Marais - well when you are this close you have to bag another col. Had I carried on down the other side I would have returned to Thones, the nice town centre from yesterday, but I returned down to Serraval and then dropped back down the road directly to Faverges, omitting the Epine. I then had a ride home along the Piste Cycable. The day was 82.5miles, not exactly an easy day after yesterday.

It is said that every cyclist must ride the Alpe d'Huez - I disagree, every cyclist should ride the Col de l'Arpettaz. It is easily on a par with any ride I have done before, even the night ride up the Col du Cloy that Guy from King of the Mountains so kindly took me on.

Again, I have traced a map on My Maps but it did made some 'corrections' but the route is easy to follow. Map can be found here.
Profile image, below, shows about 2,000m climbing in total

Profile of today's ride - produced by GPSVisualizer.com

Back to Day 2
On to Day 4


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