Minimum altitude: 302 meters
Distance: 116.6 km
Slope Aspect: South-West
Vertical Climbed: 2,207 meters (7,241 feet)
Vertical Descended: 2,190 meters
I parked up at la Grande Croix d'Aiguebelle. A hamlet at the entrance to the Maurienne valley. In the drought the river was dry but the fountain still worked. Next to the fountain a memorial for victims of the Nazis, 5 men from the village, including a 14 year old, shot in August 1944. 80 years later and similar crimes are still happening in the Ukraine, Yemen and beyond.
The ride up the valley was chilly until the sun came out at St Jean de Maurienne where I stopped for a pain au chocolat and to buy some suncream which I'd forgotten. Then the climb via Montaimont, where there is a fountain for water and the Lac du Loup. The gravel starts some way after the Lac du Loup just before the Chalets de la Dame at 1650m. You then climb around 300 meters on gravel to la Buffaz, it is okay on a road bike. Just a couple of the zig zags that are a bit rough. A very long traverse follows to join the Madeleine road at 1800 meters, 2km before the col. A gravel bike or even MTB would be nicer to do this fast.
The col was busy but a bit chilly. I put on my wind jacket for the ride down. Looking back to l'Alpe d'Huez I saw the St Sorlin glacier has now become separated from the l'Etendard glacier. A sign of the dry winters and hot summers. At the cable car station in Celliers there is another water fountain. The ride to Albertville was not too bad but as usual Albertville was extremely hot and dusty. This is possibly the worst alpine valley town I know. A hot bowl like Grenoble but even more closed in and always with winds blowing dirt around. The ride back to Aiton was unpleasantly hot with no shade. About 5km before the car I had to stop for half an hour by a river to cool down.
Cold in the morning - 11C Just before St Jean en Maurienne. Climb on south ramp was ok but very hot after Albertville - 35C. After Celliers the road is a bit rough.