I think that this is the last of my ‘local’ 1000m+ col reports. Without jumping in a car and getting ‘out of region’, Col de Tourniol was the last of the 24 I reckon I can get to and back from in a day on the bike. And I’m glad it was a great one, even if the weather was far from perfect. (I almost postponed the ascent, as it looked very Vercors-ish on top: dark grey clouds swirling about in strong winds. In the end I stayed dry, and you’ll see the drama in the photos.
A summary of the climb…
It starts at Barbières. It has lots of hairpins. It’s a fascinating route up to the col. It leaves you guessing for ages where you are going. The first set of hairpins rather works with the topography, getting you up to the top of a mound and along a broad ridge, then the second set takes you up the steep side of the valley to take the road up to the level of the col.
That said, it’s not ‘airy’ in any places, and would be a great introduction to cols: it’s not overly long (12km), rises from 450m to 1145m with no nasty gradients, and the views go from nice to stunning, as you ascend. Your effort is really rewarded.
At the col there is a memorial. I had expected this to be to the maquis of 1944, but instead it was to the victims of an aeroplane crash in 1989 of a flight from Paris to Valence.
Of course, as this col gets you onto the plateau, the descent on the eastern side is cursory (about 250m), and takes you into Léoncel, where there are toilets, water, a shop, the Romanesque abbey, and a rather expensive and snooty restaurant (“Bikes are forbidden on the terrace.”) There’s a good restaurant in Beaufort-sur-Gervanne, 20 minutes down the road, if you’re hungry.
One more thing. You might notice the smart new col signs aimed at cyclists. I’d seen these a few days earlier at Col de la Chaudière. Though the road signage is generally already good here, these are a great way to promote the fun of cycling up hills.