Text and pictures © 2006-2013 Guillaume Dargaud
Last updated on 2013/01/20
"When you ride your bike, you're working your legs, but your mind is on a treadmill. When you play chess, your mind is clicking along, but your body is stagnating. Climbing brings it together in a beautiful, magical way. The adrenaline is flowing, and it's flowing all the time." — Pat Ament.
Right: Several of those images show sequences assembled into panoramas, featuring the same people over and over again. Here Vincent, Jenny and Christine biking up to the Cochette fort.
Left: Vincent coming down the Melezin trail. From Briançon, head to Villard, then up Les Ayes valley. After the little village of Les Ayes, take a side road to Malezin where a trail between the houses comes straight down the forest (steep in places).
Right: Rhododendron bush below the Moussiere pass.
Right: The last rocky section before the Moussiere pass.
Right: Reaching Moussiere pass.
Right: Coming down the other side of Moussiere pass.
Right: View of the south side of the Izoard pass, the other side in respect with Briançon. This pass is one of the favorites of the Tour de France.
Right: Going up the dirt road leading to the Furfand Pass from the small village of Arvieux. There are only two huts along the 10 or so km of road.
Right: A view to the north from Furfande pass (left of the image), the 'plan du vallon' and the Izoard pass in the background, with Arvieux hidden at the base of the valley.
Right: 'Dent de Ratier' and the Croseras pass seen from the Furfande pass where two cars are parked at the end of the road.
Left: Biking down from the Furfande pass, towards the Maranuit huts.
Right: The Croseras ridge. No climbing that we know of up there.
One of the characteristics of the woods around Briançon is the presence of vast forests of larch trees. In summer you can't really tell the difference with standard pine trees from a distance, but as soon as autumn is upon us, the whole forests turn golden for a few weeks before the needles fall to form a thick mat on the ground. It's particularly beautiful if the snow is early, then a thick mat of needles for on top of the snow, lasting as a middle layer until spring.
Right: Maranuit hut.
For details on this bike tour: start from Arvieux, south of the Izoard pass in the remote Queyras region of France. Bike up from the fountain on the dirt road of the Plan du Vallon leading up to Furfande pass. The road ends at the summit. Take the GR58 trail down to Maranuit, then stay to the left to coast the Croseras ridge (short sections on foot), take the left trail leading to the Queyron huts, then the road for no more than 100 meters and cross a field to the left at a fountain to take a poorly visible trail among the larch trees (yellow markers). Keep going, crossing one dirt road much farther down. This trail takes you just below Arvieux, 5 minutes back to the car. About 3 to 4 hours total.
Left: Mountain biking in the middle of a larch tree forest, the only kind of conifer (pine tree) which looses its needles for the winter (also known as a deciduous tree), turning beautiful golden colors in autumn.
Right: Reaching the road for a short while at the Queyron huts, before taking off again on dirt trails.