Thursday – Colombière, Joux Plane

142 km, 3425 m vertical

Assemble at 08:45 for departure at 09:00.

Today’s ride is the toughest of the week. It starts gently with a moderate descent towards le Grand Bornand, before climbing the col de la Colombière (1618 m) by the easier southern side. An 18 km descent brings us to Cluses where we cross the river Arve and make the short climb to cross the Col de Chatillon before descending to Taninges.

We then take a quiet and mercifully fairly flat road on the left bank of the river Giffre for 12 km before arriving in Samoëns and the start of the col de Joux Plane, arguably the hardest col in the northern Alps. After 11 km and 1000 m of ascent, we cross the summit (1691 m). There is a welcome small lake here, and the view of the Mont Blanc is extraordinary.

After an enjoyable descent another short climb to the Col du Ranfolly (1656 m) catches out the unwary before the long, tricky descent to Morzine. The hardest part is over, but there’s still a lot of work to get home, with another 62 km to ride via Les Gets, Taninges, Chatillon, Marignier, Bonneville, St Pierre en Faucigny and the Gorges du Borne.

Back at the hotel between 3 and 4.30 pm. Packed lunch eaten en route.


Thursday option 1 – easier

Colombière – Mont Saxonnex (70 km, 1825 m). This is a significantly easier option which cuts out the Col de Joux-Plane, replacing it by the lovely climb through the forest via the Mont Saxonnex. This climb is part of the sportive La Grand Bô, but ridden in the other direction. Back at the hotel between 12.30 and 1.30 pm.


Thursday option 2 – harder

Colombière – Joux Plane, Joux Verte (175 km, 4025 m).This is a significantly harder option, adding the Col de la Joux Verte (the climb to Avoriaz) immediately after the descent from Joux Plane into Morzine. The remainder of the route is identical.

Back at the hotel between 3.30 and 5.30 pm. Packed lunch eaten en route.

See Friday’s programme.