Let’s face it, after the year we’ve all had, we need a vacation. That’s why we LOVE being able to join this week’s contributor Mervyn Heibert on his recent trip to Italy’s Dolomites and the Pyrenees in France.

These are ten rides from Italy and France with a bonus one from his home country of Canada. 

This series has got a great flow to it and tells a lovely story of what it’s like to explore the world by bike. There’s some big climbs over short distances here, so make sure you read the parcours ahead of time!

Hautacam

A perfect evening ride Up to the Hautacam ski station. This is a long and sometimes steep climb passing rural farm yards with great views of the valley and Argelès Gazost below. The ride continues past Hautacam and ends a few meters from the final left turn on the road on the summit of Col de Tramassel.

14.44KM

DISTANCE
01:18:23
DURATION
1182M
ELEVATION GAIN

Col de Ichere and Col de Lie

Two small climbs in succession in the Pyrenees, ascending from east to west. Situated just west of Col du Marie Blanque, these are both shorter than 5 kms each and offer a few steep pitches

17.13KM
DISTANCE
00:58:54
DURATION
604M
ELEVATION GAIN

Col du Marie Blanque from Louvie Juzon

Begin this ride with a flat warm-up from the town of Louvie-Juzon. The climb begins quite steep and has a flat section with lots of livestock before ascending through the forest with mostly minimal grades to the top. Approaching from the west is a much steeper test.

14.79KM
DISTANCE
00:55:24
DURATION
649M
ELEVATION GAIN

Col de la Croix Blanche

A short climb north of Col du Tourmalet in the foothills of the Pyrenees. There are a few steep pitches along the way. When you crest the top you can see the Tarbes plain north and to the right.

8.39KM
DISTANCE
00:33:00
DURATION
339M
ELEVATION GAIN

Tre Croci

An early morning ride out of Cortina d’Ampezza. There’s a quick warm-up along the bike path before a beautiful winding climb to the east

8.95KM
DISTANCE
00:41:17
DURATION
583M
ELEVATION GAIN

Sant Antonio

This ride begins with a warm up through the Italian town of Auronzo before the climb through the forest.

11.76KM
DISTANCE
00:50:25
DURATION
651M
ELEVATION GAIN

Cernadoi to Arabba

From the west base of the Giau, you will climb and descend through some of the most scenic Italian mountain roads I have ever ridden.

21.95KM
DISTANCE
01:00:52
DURATION
559M
ELEVATION GAIN

Misurina and Tre Cime di Lavaredo

Another beautiful ride in the Dolomites! Consider pulling off after Misurino or endure the ascent into hell of the Tre Cime di Lavaredo. Beautiful as it is unrelenting – 13.5% ave grade for the last 3 kms. It is advisable to change to a virtual 34 cog in settings for this ride.

16.15KM
DISTANCE
01:17:22
DURATION
559M
ELEVATION GAIN

Passo di Monte Croce

Contrary to many climbs in the Dolomites, this ride is not steep. The gentle grades allow for a quick ascent to the top! Once you pass the waterfall, you know you are almost there.

10.09KM
DISTANCE
00:34:06
DURATION
416M
ELEVATION GAIN

Soulor from Ferrieres

If there was only one climb you could do in the Pyrenees it would be hard to argue against this experience. Begin at Ferrieres through some small villages and forests before the road opens up to amazing views of the Cirque du Litor. You will see the thin line of the road on the cliff long before you ride along this famous balcony road to the top of Col du Aubisque. Truly a bucket list climb!

22.74KM
DISTANCE
01:39:57
DURATION
1297M
ELEVATION GAIN

Castle-Mountain

The road up to Castle Mountain Ski Resort winds southwest through rural farm land, over the Castle and West Castle rivers, and into the forest and Rocky Mountains. A few kilometers past the hamlet of Beaver Mines you will notice the imposing Table Mountain on your left – a popular hike in the region. Castle Mtn has been rated as one of the top 10 epic powder ski hills in the world – it’s not uncommon to get overnight snow dumps of 40 to 60 cm. But not today!

79.33KM
DISTANCE
2:46:07
DURATION
932M
ELEVATION GAIN