Mont Blanc is the highest mountain in the Alps and cycling around it offers mind-blowing views. Press play on the video below and experience what it's like to ride through this incredible landscape!
Alpinists and ice climbers Matthias Scherer and Tanja Schmitt can’t get enough of the mountains. Whether, it’s winter or summer, their lives revolve around preparing for and going on big adventures. To help them physically and mentally prepare for the coming winter, they cycled around Mont Blanc in less than 24 hours. Below, Tanja Schmitt recounts their big day out pedalling.
By Tanja Schmitt
The Tour du Mont Blanc climbs more than 8050 vertical meters over a total distance of 340 km. The route goes through some of the most beautiful alpine passes in the Alps and some of the most spectacular parts of Italy, Switzerland and France. It offers stunning views of the snow-covered flanks of the mighty Mont Blanc (4810m), the highest peak in the Alps.
As mountaineers and ice climbers, the psychological part of our sport has a big impact and the physical demands are also high. Next to basic strength training, regular rock-climbing and dry tooling, endurance training plays a major role in our overall training. For this reason, over summer Matthias and I do a lot of vertical ascent training through mountain running and biking. The idea of cycling non-stop around Mont Blanc was born from the logical step of connecting the passes and roads we’ve gotten to know so well through our training and traveling over the years. And on Sunday, August 30th the time had finally come to take action.
With bright headlamps and equipped with several Clif Shot Gels, Clif Shot Bloks and Clif Bars, together with salt-tablets and water, we hit the road at Aymaville and cycled along the empty roads of Aosta towards Grand St. Bernard. Our heartbeat was regular and we cycled in a steady rhythm.
Our route lead us from the Col du Gr. St.Bernard over Champex to Martigny. Then over the Col de la Forclaz and on to Chamonix, Le Fayet and St. Gervais to Megève. From there we gained 750 vertical meters to les Saisies and further on to Beaufort.
Temperatures during the day went to over 30° C and, correspondingly, the cycling became tougher. On the Cormet de Roselend, I began to suffer from the heat due to an agitating dry cough. But as the evening freshness came on, we got our strength back and enjoyed rolling down the long descent to Bourge-St-Maurice.
The challenge to organize water refills became an unexpected issue. However, after a nerve-racking 30-minute wait in the queue of a nearby McDonalds, we rehydrated and furthermore equipped ourselves with an ice-filled cola!
The last verticals up the road of Petit St-Bernard were tackled at dawn. Then the end was in sight and after a spectacular ride down the Col to Prè-St-Didier, we felt like we were flying on the last flat kilometers on the SS26 to Aymaville. On arriving back in Aymaville, our Suunto Ambits showed a time of 19h55min. A wonderful training day in the mountains had come to an end.