Exploring the French Alps: Haute Savoie & Savoie

Last modified: May 23, 2021

I decided somewhat last-minute to spend a week cycling in early October in the northern French Alps, in the Haute Savoie and Savoie departments. I couldn’t have chosen a better week in terms of the weather and my recent obsession with ticking off all of the VeloViewer map tiles (see my blog post) caused me to plan a rather convoluted route that included an intense amount of climbing and many gravel/dirt roads.

I used my action camera for the first time in a while and got some great footage that I’ve compiled into the following video. This is the first video to receive the “Ride Far Productions” stamp, but I haven’t decided whether this will be a regular thing; it takes a lot of time to do it properly, but it is a lot nicer than a wordy ride report. Please let me know in the comments what you think.

The distances I rode weren’t massive, but I was climbing an average of about 3000 meters per 100 km, and one day I even managed to climb 5000 meters in just 125 km (see details on Strava). I finished with a total of 30,000 meters of climbing in 8 days, which is a new record for me (even in the mountainous TCR 2016 I only managed about 27,000 m of climbing in an 8-day period). I’ve also now surpassed my record amount of climbing in a calendar year with over 220,000 meters so far in 2017 (in 13,000 km of distance).

To get my VeloViewer tile cluster to continue all the way to Italy over the Col du Petit St Bernard, I rode many minor roads, gravel roads, and a little singletrack around the major passes of the Col de la Colombière, Col des Aravis, Cormet de Roseland, and Col du Petit St Bernard, plus several smaller passes. This caused me to discover some beautiful sections of road and trail that I wouldn’t have otherwise been motivated to explore. So thanks again to VeloViewer and the awesome Explorer metrics.

Here is my route created using the VeloViewer “Wheel” option and my current tile cluster for the region. Click an image to enlarge it.

4 thoughts on “Exploring the French Alps: Haute Savoie & Savoie”

  1. Hi Chris, great write-up! I live near Geneva so your route is definitely inspiration for me. I was wondering what you think of the Diverge? Please link me through if you’ve already done a review of it somewhere. Also, I read on your “components” page on your advice section that you’d go for the Shimano mechanical disc brakes over the Avid BB7s, but you’ve got the latter on the Diverge – is there much between them – do you have a preference? I’m looking at my own gravel/adventure build and mechanical discs seem to make sense from an ease of repair point of view. Are you happy with their performance?

    Thanks in advance for your advice. Love reading your blog.

    1. Performance-wise, the Shimano CX77 and Avid BB7 are very similar and I’m happy with both of them. In the page on Frames & Brakes I state that I prefer the Shimanos only because they are lower-profile and so work with rear rack and fenders better, but that isn’t a problem on this bike because of the position of the brakes. The Avids do have the advantage of being able to adjust the pad position without needing tools – the Shimano brakes need a different-size tool for each side, which is annoying. When setup well, with good cable housing, a true rotor, and well-positioned pads, the performance of these two models of cable-actuated discs is very good and not too far behind hydraulic versions, but hydraulic disc brakes don’t require as much fiddling to get them setup well, and there are some poor mechanical disc brakes out there, which is why they have a bad reputation.

      The Diverge itself is an excellent gravel/adventure bike; it’s more capable off-road than most other gravel bikes because of the Future Shock suspension helping to keep the front wheel on the ground in rough stuff and proving a little extra comfort. The Diverge is also better than many other gravel bikes because it has an almost-full set of accessory mounts (although the upper rear rack and mudguard attachments are not ideal and neither is the upper front mudguard attachment), but none of the other options is perfect and I wouldn’t change much. Lastly, the Diverge does cost a bit more than some similarly-equipped gravel bikes, but you’re mainly paying for the technology of the Future Shock so I think it’s worth the extra money to have a bike that can go almost anywhere.

  2. Amazing video! What a dream week. I love how not one car is passing in the whole video. And the Larch trees were perfectly golden – Incredible timing with the weather. It was fun travelling along with you – Thanks for sharing!

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