Tour 2010,  20 - 22 August

stagedistance (km)climbing (m)
Erstfeld - Susten - Grimsel - Oberwald1053350
Oberwald - Brig - Moosalp - Sierre - Saxon1571660
Saxon - Pas du Lein - Orsières - Champex - Martigny651990

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Stage 1 (20 August 2010): Erstfeld - Susten - Grimsel - Oberwald


Because of serious problems with my back (a big herniation), i did not want to go to far away for my 2010 tour. I started in the second half of August, after a few test rides during the summer vacations... and after a longer period of unstable weather. First, i took a train to Erstfeld, there where the road to the Gotthard begins to climb. Then, arriving at Wassen, i left the southbound road and started to climb towards the Susten Pass. The first part in the valley of Meien was very nice, but then the road seemed to climb forever. There are almost no hairpin curves and this makes the climb somewhat boring. Nevertheless, i reached the pass around noon, three hours after hitting the road. The Susten has a tunnel at the top. Because i wanted to reach the real pass, i went first through the tunnel and then up the small road to reach it. The descent towards Innertkirchen long, first quite spectacular, then less steep, making some pedalling against the headwind necessary.
From Innertkirchen, i went up to the Grimsel Pass. The climb is also long, but i had enough time to take it easy. The weather was largely cloudy and the temperature pleasant. I reached the pass shortly after 4 o'clock. I took pictures from the Berne side with the artificial lakes and from the Valais side with the breathtaking hairpin curves of both the Grimsel and Furka roads, joining each other at Gletsch. I went down there, then further to Oberwald, where i stopped for the night.

 distance (km)altitude (m)climbing (m)
Sustenpass (Tunnel)3622201300
total105 3350

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Stage 2 (21 August 2010): Oberwald - Brig - Moosalp - Sierre - Saxon


After some rain the evening before, the weather for this second day was as promised by the forecast: sunny. It did not take long on the way to notice that was Saturday as there was much traffic in this touristic region (and there was practically no way to avoid it by taking smaller roads). Except for that, the descent of the Goms valley towards Brig was nice. As i had hoped, the valley wind was not yet blowing. From Brig to Visp, i followed the bicycle way. Strangely enough, there was no sign when it was necessary to turn left to Visp. Nothing to improve my poor opinion about road signs for bicycles. At least, i had a good map.
From Visp, i entered the valley to Stalden, a valley which splits then up to either Zermatt of Saas Fee. There was a crazy lot of traffic. Incredible that all these tourists have to behave like sheep and go as a herd all to the same place. It was not really surprising to see how bad a Dutch bus driver behaved on such a road, but a bit more astonishing to see his colleague from an alpine country doing no better... Anyway, i was very glad as i could leave this circus behind me and climb up to Törbel. It was much, much quieter and i could finally enjoy the view. By then, it was really warm and the road was steep enough, only somewhat less for the last part before the Moosalp pass. The descent was also quite steep and the pavement not very good. I often had to stand up to absorb the shocks and save my poor back. Further down, from Eicholl to Turtmann, it was very nice. Then, however, i was back in the Rhone valley and had to ride against the (dry) wind. It was not much fun but, drinking enough, i managed it well. After Sion, however, the wind became fierce and it was really hard to keep a pace around 25. Finally, i reached Saxon and there i found a room in a sort of motel.

 distance (km)altitude (m)climbing (m)
Matte (Münster)101330 
Gräiche (Reckingen)11135020
Wirbelti (Fiesch)251020 
Deischbach (Lax)27106040
Gietji (Stalden)5970050
Les Epeneys (Riddes)150470 
Les Iles (Saxon)157460 
total157 1660

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Stage 3 (22 August 2010): Saxon - Pas du Lein - Orsières - Champex - Martigny


I started early from Saxon, simply because there was no breakfast at the motel. After riding a few kilometres back along the Rhone valley, i started climbing to the Lein pass. The air was fresh and the small road was winding its curves between apricot orchards, up to an altitude of about 1000 m. (The apricots had already been harvested, so there was not too much temptation to pick some.) After the orchards, i was between forests, pastures and some chalets. The last stretch before the pass was not surfaced, but good enough for the race bicycle. At the pass, there was a herd of Hérens cows, those small, black cows bred more for fighting than for giving milk. Maybe a good idea actually, now that there are again wolves in this part of the Alps.
After the Lein pass, i continued along the crest on a good gravel road and soon reached a second pass, Col du Tronc. And to the third in a raw, Col des Planches, there was soon an asphalted road, not much distance either and it was going down. This way, i had three passes for the price of one. From Col des Planches, i took the steep descent to Sembrancher and joined the road to the Grand-St-Bernard. At Orsières, however, i left this road and went to a restaurant to finally have some small breakfast. From Orsières, i took the road up to Champex. I climbed at a good pace. The temperature also, on this south-exposed slope. I reached the lake of Champex at about half past eleven. Because it was Sunday, there were many tourists around. I did not stay long, continued to the pass and then to the long descent towards Les Valettes. The first part was very good, but further down the road was more bumpy, narrow and with more traffic. Finally, i joined again the main road and went down to Martigny. This tour was thus ending at the same place as the year before. It had been the shortest tour since 20 years that i'm doing this kind of exercise, but i was glad that it had been possible to do it at all and nearly with back pains.

 distance (km)altitude (m)climbing (m)
Les Iles (Saxon)0460 
Pas du Lein171660720
Col du Tronc191610 
Col des Planches211410 
Lac de Champex451470500
Col de Champex47150030
Les Valettes58630 
La Croix62500 
total65 1990

PS / 27.8.2010