It wasn’t until I rode these two cols a few days ago that I quite worked out the geography of them, or really took in that they both qualified for the blog. They are on a nice 60-mile loop from home I’ve done several times, and though nothing extraordinary (no heart-stopping balconies or stunning vistas) the roads are delightful and quiet, and the scenery is very pleasant. Oh, and no desperately hard climbing, just average pre-Alpine drags in either direction.
This time I did the loop clockwise – more often I’ve done it the other way, as I prefer the descent into Valdrôme (the descent from Col du Fays feels just a bit sketchy at speed in a couple of places) – but either way is nice.
From Valdrôme the D106 is clearly marked, and apart from one pair of hairpins (by one of the interesting bits of geology en route) it’s a fairly direct 400m ascent. You might get a little confused by the altitudes given on the km markers: I suspect that some of the later ones have been inflated by 100m, as you pass two over 1100m (the second at 1170m), then carry on climbing to the col at 1115m. Curious.
After a pretty little circuit of elevated pasture, with more geology to the right, and strange black mounds in the middle of the pasture, you start ascending to Col du Fays.
But here’s the odd thing: you are now going alongside the top of the second valley, and Col du Fays, after a short distance, will take you over into the third: you never really descend into the second. And just before the col sign you might see a km marker at 1050m altitude… but you definitely descend from there to the col at ‘1051m’! Today the descent had several loose gravel signs, but the patches had been tidily done, and most of the loose gravel had been swept. But never assume that to be the case: if you see gravel signs, take great care, as you might meet a pile just when you need to brake, or turn a corner. Fast descents aren’t the sorts of places where you want to have to make difficult decisions.