July 2015 and August 2019
KmM = Kilometer Marker
We stayed in Lans-en-Vercors for about ten days in 2015, but there’s not much real climbing nearby, so we drove to all the rides. I drove to Le Bourg d’Oisans twice, once with Tanya to ride Alpe d’Huez and watch the TdF, and once by myself to ride a few other climbs. We drove to ride the Col de Rousset, the Col de la Machine, and the Col de Porte. I wrote about the climbs in Le Bourg d’Oisans in their own section, but the others are just included here. In 2019 I added a wonderful loop in the Chartreuse are to the NW of Grenoble.
Col de Rousset
About 20 km and 858 meters (2,815′) of climbing. A lovely climb, never very steep, but in wonderful surroundings. We discovered this by chance as we had to drive over it on the way to where we were staying in Lans-en-Vercors. Start in Die and follow the road north, finishing at the tunnel.
Col de la Machine
There are two main climbs up to the Col de la Machine. Here they are:
From Saint-Laurent-en-Royans. About 17 km and 850 meters (2,789′) of ascent. When I was looking for climbs to do around Lans-en-Vercors, I came across this profile on ClimbByBike.com. It has the most colorful profile that I’ve seen and for that reason I wanted to ride it. It’s a pleasant ride if you are in the area, not too hard, with little traffic, but no great views. There are two unlit tunnels, one of 120 meters and one of 255 meters. Lights are useful but not essential – there is just enough light to make your way through the longer tunnel.
From Saint-Jean-en-Royans. About 12.25 km and 770 meters (2,526′) of ascent. After doing research on Col de la Machine I discovered that the climb from Saint-Jean-en-Royans was written up in dangerousroads.com as being one of the most spectacular balcony roads in France. (It is written up twice: as the Combe Laval Road and as the Col de la Machine Road.) This of course meant we had to ride it. The first 8 km are pleasant with no surprises and a good road surface, but the 3 km of balcony road are just stunning with tunnels, cliffs, overhangs, narrow roads, and incredible views of the cliffs and the valley to the side. There is one lit tunnel of 190 meters.
Chartreuse 4-Col Loop
This is a fantastic loop through beautiful country, of 94 km with 2,860 meters of climbing. It goes over 4 cols: the Col de Marcieu, the Col du Granier, the Col du Cucheron, and the Col du Coq. My legs were exhausted by the finish. The route is well-signed and you should have no problem finding your way.
I’d read about this loop on Cycling Challenge and you can also see profiles of the four climbs there.
I parked in the same place as Will, at the Place Alfred Berthet in Crolles, where there is plenty of parking. Ride north on the main road until at about km 5.4 turn left to La Terrasse. Turn left on the D30 and climb the 7 km of steep zig-zags to Saint Bernard du Touvet. As you enter the village turn right on the D30c signed to Col de Marcieu, which you reach at about km 17.
Continue until at about km 24 you leave the D30c and continue straight on the D282. More climbing then a long descent takes you to an intersection at about km 37. Turn left here following the sign for the Col du Granier.
7 km of misery, including one kilometer averaging 11.3% and another averaging 11.7%, and you arrive at the Col du Granier.
Now you have 10 km of reward, a lovely descent down a beautiful, wide open valley, with the distinct peak of Chamechaude beckoning in the distance. My one regret on the ride is that I didn’t stop in this valley to take photos – the descent was too much fun 🙂 The ascent also looks fun and I saw more people riding up this valley than on any other part of the loop.
Down in Saint-Pierre-d’Entremont, turn left on the D512, then left again on the D512 at the city limits, following the signs for Saint-Pierre-de-Chartreuse. You’ll reach the top of the Col du Cucheron shortly before km 62 – fortunately this climb is not as steep as the previous two climbs.
Just below Saint-Pierre-de-Chartreuse, at about km 66, turn left, staying on the D512, signed to Saint-Hugues-de-Chartreuse and the Col de Port. In about one kilometer, turn left again on the D57B, signed to Saint-Hugues-de-Chartreuse and the Col du Coq.
Just after Saint-Hugues-de-Chartreuse the road splits, with the D57B turning right. Your road, up to the Col du Coq goes straight, up the C8. The road narrows and becomes quite a bit rougher, with gravel on the road in places. There are some steep sections on this climb, including one section that felt more than 14% – my Garmin was showing 0 at this point, perhaps because I was riding so slowly 🙂 Fortunately there’s a 2 km downhill before the final 2 km to the Col du Coq.
From here a steep descent leads in about 6km to the D30 where you turn right towards Grenoble. Down at the D1090 turn left and follow the mainly flat road back to your car.
Col de Porte
About 15.5 km and 1,100 meters (3,609′) of climbing. Not a very inspiring climb, and only worth doing if you are in the area. Tanya’s view is that you’d have more fun having a coffee and a pastry. We parked in Grenoble, near the Bastille, by the river just before the city limit sign for La Tronche. Ride into La Tronche and soon turn uphill on the D512 following the sign for Col de Porte.