With its alpine location, there are few places as ideal for winter sports than Morzine. Cycling, however, comes into its own in the region when summertime comes. The mountains are home to well-kept roads and plenty of places to stay – for this reason Morzine has become a popular destination on the route of the worlda€™s most famous bike race, the Tour de France. The race is one of the hardest sporting events in the world: three weeks of sheer endurance that traditionally takes in both the Pyrenees and the Alps, regardless of where its ever-changing route takes it within France and nearby countries.
Pedalling in the Clouds
Morzine cycling provides riders with some real challenges. You need to be an experienced and confident cyclist to even consider riding up the steep gradients that form the alpine roads, not to mention having to be supremely fit! For 2011a€™s route, the race stays further south as it travels through the Alps, but thata€™s no reason for those who feel up to the challenge not to take themselves up in the clouds to enjoy the roads around Morzine. Cycling in Europe has few more imposing challenges than the battle between man and gravity on the asphalt ribbon that leads up to the famous ski resorts in the area. Here is a glimpse of the famous Tour de France elements from around Morzine to give you a little motivation.
The Col de Joux Plane
The Col de Joux Plane is one of the main reasons that the Tour de France juggernaut is so keen to visit Morzine. Cycling the famous pass is an incredible challenge; for those wishing to tackle the pass starting from Morzine, it is just under 11 km long. Perhaps not the longest bike ride youa€™ll have ever undertaken, but the sting is in the fact that the climb has an average gradient of 6.5%, with a lung-bursting, leg-shredding maximum gradient of 11%!
Be warned, if you think that you might be able to find an easier route by going the other way, youa€™ll be disappointed. If you take the route from SamoA«ns then you will have not only a longer route, this time 11.7 km, but also a significantly steeper average gradient percentage – a truly intimidating 8.5%. There is a little relief if you choose this option: the maximum gradient is only 10%!
If you do decide to have a crack at the Col de Joux Plane and find yourself struggling, dona€™t worry, youa€™ll be in good company: Lance Armstrong claimed to have had his most difficult moment in all of his tours on the pass in 2000.