Cycling camp in the Swiss and French Jura. From the 21st to 23rd of June 2019 we cycled through the Jura mountain chain, between Switzerland and France, from torrential rain to scorching heat, it was an amazing weekend with very tough rides but long lasting memories !
Cycling Camp Day 1 : Friday 21st June 2019
The cycling camp started in Septmoncel and we headed Les Rousses admiring the famous lake, before reaching the Vallée de Joux. Our pace was good helped by the nice weather conditions, and no head wind which is often the case there. We arrived at the main difficulty of the day, the Col du Marchairuz. From the Jura side it’s a shorter climb with some nasty little steep segments, but the views are incredible over the lake of the Vallée de Joux. We reached the summit and enjoyed a nice piece of blueberry pie !
We descended back a little bit to join one of my favourite roads in the Jura : la route des montagnes. This is where the cows stay in the summer, and only cyclists and hikers are allowed on their roads. In the winter, this is where the cross country skiing slopes are, amazing to be using these roads for two very different seasons and sports !
We descended back to Bassins with breathtaking views of Lake Geneva, before climbing back up to Saint Cergue and the Col de La Givrine. Unfortunately, a storm hit us and we got absolutely soaked, we took shelter in a little auberge by the border, and a nice and warm tea lifted our spirits, and the sun came back !
We headed towards Mijoux and looped back to Septmoncel. It was a very nice and challenging ride to start with, hopping from France to Switzerland and back to France, admiring the different views of beautiful regions.
108km / +1800m / 4h30min
Cycling Camp Day 2 : Saturday 22nd June 2019
Today was all about the Jura. In fact we cycled through two departments, the Jura and l’Ain. We saw loads of their mottos : “Made in Jura”, or “Ici c’est l’Ain”, signs that famous tours have used these roads. Indeed, the Tour de France and Tour de l’Ain regularly use these roads. No wonder, they are challenging and absolutely gorgeous.
From Septmoncel, we basically looped the whole Jura ! We passed Champfromier and Giron, before reaching our furthest point in Chézery-Forens, and “climbing” back up to Mijoux. Turns out we were not the only crazy ones out there, there was a trail running race and they were running 165km race !
Right at the end, again we got hit by torrential rain, and the risk of electric storms was in the air. We decided to cut the stage short by 25km, and we missed the famous “lacets de Septmoncel”. What a shame, but safety comes first and we didn’t want to get ill as well, as we all knew the final day would be a big effort.
Once we reached home, the sun was out, the weather had turned very quickly. We focused more on stretching and relaxing, and enjoying each other’s company, with the usual cycling chat over a nice cake and coffee, followed by a few beers.
80km / +1600m / 4h
Cycling Camp Day 3 : Sunday 23rd June
The Jura 3 peaks. What a challenge for the athletes ! What is the Jura 3 Peaks ? Well there are several passes in the area, but for me this consists of the Combe Blanche, the Baudichonne and the Barillette. A total climbing of more than 3000m. Not many people have attempted this, and after two days of cycling, we would really put our legs to the test !
The Combe Blanche is a very nice climb, not so steep, and with a few very nice view points on Lake Geneva. We reach the cross country skiing slopes of La Vattay and loop around the Jura and La Dôle and go back from the Col de la Givrine, descending the fast road from Saint Cergue.
From Chéserex, we then climbed the Baudichonne. It’s arguably the toughest climb in the region. With an average of 10% over 9km, and some very steep sections around 15%, it’s a gruelling climb without many resting areas. However, the views at the top are simply amazing. The Mont Blanc was standing proud, and so were all the athletes who couldn’t quite believe what they had just done.
But the final effort was yet to come, the main event, the Barillette. It’s the highest paved road in the Jura Chain, reaching 1550m elevation. The climb is tough the first 6-7km, but then it becomes easier. Overall the climb is 12.7km long, with an average at 8%. We made it to the summit, not without suffering, and the view of the whole Lake Geneva, Geneva, and the Mont Blanc and the Alps was an amazing view to finish with.
To close the camps, we celebrated with a few beers and some local cheese which we all deserved !
106km / +3200m / 6h
Cycling Camp Conclusion
294km / +6’800m / 14.5h
All the best for your main events coming up soon : Forest’Cime, La Marmotte, and l’Etape du Tour.
This camp would have given a huge fitness boost to all the athletes, and they are now truly prepared to face their main challenge and event of the year. Thank you for the amazing spirit, the camaraderie, and the new friendships. That’s what cycling is about, that’s what the Jura Cycling Camps are all about.
Thank you and see you soon !