A GUIDE TO CYCLING IN MORZINE
Cycling in Morzine. A guide on the best Tour de France climbs that you won’t want to miss when visiting Morzine with your bike!
As with many Ski resorts in the Alps, you don’t have to cycle far to find yourself on a climb or piece of road you may recognise from watching Le Tour de France, and cycling in Morzine is no exception. Smooth roads and double-figure gradients are available from your doorstep, making cycling in Morzine a must for every keen cyclist!
COL DU CORBIER
STATS: 6KM @ 8.6%
A short but punchy climb, the Col Du Corbier has featured in the tour a number of times. If you’re looking to get a Col under your belt pre-breakfast, then a quick trip up the Corbier is for you. Starting roughly 10kms out of Morzine following a leg warming gradual descent down the D902, the Corbier ramps up quickly, hitting 8% from the get-go. The tarmac of the D332 is smooth and there is good tree coverage the majority of the way, with the tree line breaking just over halfway to provide you with a great view of La Vallée d’Aulps. The gradient picks up in the last third, peaking at 11% as you take the final corner to reach the summit. Once you’ve taken the obligatory bike photo against the sticker bombed Col sign you can enjoy the fast descent back down to the D902 and the steady climb back up to Morzine through Montriond. If you’re looking to take your ride further, you can continue over the top of the Corbier down to Bonnevaux (via some great switchbacks) on through Vacheresse to loop up through La Forclaz to re-join the D902.
Top tip: Make sure you ride with the latest safety tech for your trip to the Alps – my personal helmet choice is the Met Rivale MIPS
COL DU JOUX VERTE
STATS: 14.4KM @ 6.1% (VIA MONTRIOND)
The Joux Verte is a long but forgiving climb that suits all abilities as its shallow sections offer opportunities for recovery, or a chance to pick the pace up; the climb is picturesque, providing you with a sense of adventure the entire way. It begins with shallow gradients (between 4-6%) from Montriond and quickly passes the stunning Lac de Montriond. This is the first respite as the Gradient relaxes down to almost flat for a km around the lake to give you the chance to take in the scenery. The gradient then kicks up for 3km to bring you up to several switchbacks, bringing the gradient temporarily into the double figures – fortunately, the view provides a distraction. This is rewarded with another respite and the opportunity to fill the water bottle in Les Lindarets – a village where goats rule the road, so be sure to take a photo with the residents.
The final 4.5km to the top is a winding road through the trees, giving you teasers of the view that awaits you at the top every now and again. You’ll reach a junction at the top of the climb where you’ll have 2 choices; continue the climb up to the Avoriaz resort or take the descent back down to Morzine. Or you can do what I did – have a coffee at the Col de Jeux Verte before making either decision! The descent provides stunning views of the valley the entire way and begins with fast straights which bring you into no less than 19 switchbacks before rolling you out into Morzine town centre for the rest of your ride (potentially up the other side of the valley via Ranfolly – the next climb on the list if you’re up for a big day) or into the first café you can set your eyes on – mood dependant.
Tip: Be sure to have the means to track all your rides reliably and accurately – my personal choice is the Garmin 520 Edge
COL DU RANFOLLY & COL DE JOUX PLANE
COL DU RANFOLLY STATS: 8KM @ 8.4%
Onto our third and final recommendation for cycling in Morzine, the Col Du Ranfolly. This climb tends to feature as a descent in Le Tour de France, its last appearance being in 2016 as the final descent of Stage 20 – but don’t let this deter you from tackling this tough climb as the visual reward at the top is very much worth the effort. The road wastes no time in hitting double-figure gradients, with the first 2km averaging 10% as the road winds its way out of Morzine and through the houses, quickly bringing you to fields of grazing cattle. The first of only two short gradient breaks comes at just over 2km with a slight flat before resuming 8% on the small number of switchbacks. Following the switchbacks, the next 4.5km average just over 8% without much relief before you reach the top of this particular Col (the last 2km average 9.5%), so be prepared to work until the summit! The peak of Col du Ranfolly is signified by the Lhotty restaurant and Les Nauchets Chairlift.. but you don’t want to stop here…
COL DE JOUX PLANE – 10.5KM @ 6.4%
Continue on the same road for around 1-2km and you’ll find yourself at the Lac du Joux Plane. The view from the lake is worth the extra piece of effort, with the distant mountains and valley in front of you undoubtedly becoming your Strava activity highlight photo. If you continue on this road you’ll take the descent into Samoens, where the Tour de France typically ascends, or you can retrace your steps and return to Morzine in a similar fashion to the peloton in 2016’s tour. The descent is mostly fast but technical at times, so be sure to note the location of the tighter turns on your ascent. You can find a nice flow through the final corners and straights, holding some good speed if you’re confidence is high enough. You’ll quickly return to Morzine with a smile on your face and another Col ticked off the list.
FINAL COMMENTS ON CYCLING IN MORZINE
I hope you enjoy cycling in Morzine just as much as I did – let me know how you get on and about any further discoveries you make, as I will definitely be heading back out at the next opportunity!
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