Road Cycling: Via Rhona La Balme-les-Grottes to Lyon, France - 336 m. (1,102 ft)

Fri, 2 June 2023


Minimum altitude: 227 meters

Distance: 80 km

Slope Aspect: West

Trip Reports

Vertical Climbed: 401 meters (1,316 feet)

Vertical Descended: 473 meters

Rating: 2


I saw that Amberieu was 20 minutes by train from Lyon which meant I could cycle a chunk of the Via Rhona, the long distance cycle path that goes from Geneva to the Mediterranean sea. The idea was to ride down to the Rhone from Amberieu and tackle the end of section 7 and then section 8 and 9 to Lyons. The first obstacle is avoiding heavily trafficked roads from Amberieu. The D1075 has a lot of trucks. Once you join the Via Rhona the priority is to keep you away from traffic, even if this can mean some detours on back roads. At one point, at Hieres sur Amby, I took a short cut along the main road, which wasn't too busy as there was no shade on the alternate route and it was already pretty hot at 10am. At Anthon there is another detour, which I took this time but on very quiet roads.`

The section from la Balme des Grottes to Jons is 37km (section 8). It lies on the very southern edge of the Bugey region and doesn't follow the river but climbs slowly to the Balcons du Dauphiné. Authentic villages, châteaux and vineyards follow one another against a backdrop of the characteristic cliffs of the Isle Crémieu. Anthon is the confluence of the Ain and Rhône and there is a viewpoint with a small detour. At Jons you join the Jonage canal towpath and the Grand Parc de Miribel-Jonage. There is quite a lot of gravel riding although I tackled this on a 23mm tired road bike.

At Jons (section 9, 28km) there is a large dam which stocks water for the Jonage canal. You ride past the plan d'eau where people boat and sale the join the Greater Lyon cycle paths in through and beyond Miribel-Jonage. At Villeurbaine you can continue along the river on a gravel track until you reach the city center where it is finally surfaced or cross Villeurbain's university district then the Parc de la Tete d'Or and rejoin the river here.


Hot, 25C with a NE breeze, not bad as I was heading west. The initial section when you join the Jonage canal at Jons is a bit rough on a road bike. Signposting generally good but keeps your eyes peeled.


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