Bike packing the GR5 – Some in depth photos, maps and words on how we got on
I posted a sort of overview of this trip last week and said that I would write some more detailed posts about it in the coming weeks since I have so many photos from it so here we are. I think I will just post all of the links in this one thread as I write them to save having 10 threads and so everything is in one place. Hopefully the posts load a lot faster than the last one as i’ve reduced the image sizes a bit and maybe as my wordpress/website skills progress as I do more I will figure out how to make things run smoother.
I’ve tried to keep the text to a minimum since the photos are what people are mostly interested in but I do tend to ramble quite often and my english language is not all that sophisticated or descriptive so feel free to read or just look at the photos. I’ve also added some maps of where we rode as I just love maps so a bit of a personal indulgence on that one and maybe some others out there love a good map too!
So here is Day 1 and what we got up to, a lot of faffing before getting the pedals turning properly and some last minute planning before finally setting off into some real hills! Any feedback on the photos or the website it welcomed and maybe this will even inspire someone else to give bike packing a go, it was out first time and we didn’t really have all the ‘proper’ equipment but it went really well and we both want to do it a lot more! 😀
Day 1 – Briançon to Col des RochillesPosted 11 months ago
Would post a couple of photos here but they don’t seem to want to link in 🙁
Nice one guys. Seems like the site is working at a decent speed then if no one has commented otherwise…?
Oliverracing – Just realised you are the guys who also did the GR5 last summer who even look like me and my mate and even have the same name! (I am also a Will). Reading your report it seems like you missed some pretty epic sections however i’m not sure how legal it is to ride it all (although we didn’t realise this until we actually arrived at signs which said so and it was too late to make a MASSIVE detour so we rode on cautiously, no one complained and were in fact almost always encouraging, even the locals!).
I realised just now you asked me some questions on your thread and in response the sections of the GR5 south of Briancon are often really rideable, you would often have the real GR5 going up some hiking path then a gravel road or proper road zig zagging up nearby until about 500m or so from the top of the col then it was on to a proper trail and some hike-a-bike mixed with riding, surprised how much we rode uphill really.Posted 11 months ago
Just read it, great photos and really hankering after going back this year, but suspect it’s going to be more the Dolomites area that we’ll end up doing as my Brother is currently working out there. I may do a brief visit to the french alps on the way out and back as will have about 30 days to get to Italy and back. Might even do a post asking for recommendations on where to visit en-route…
We know we missed the most remote section but with the amount of snow that was forecast to be on it, I still think we definitely made the best decision as we didn’t have any winter kit, although looking back with rose tinted glasses it’s easy to think why didn’t we just carry on! I will go back and do Briancon/Modane onwards some point in the future as it really does look as good if not better than the northern 250km of the GR5! I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the report!
As for legality who knows (or more I know it’s illegal but who knows if it’s ever enforced). I think I may have said but not sure, but we even got talking to a policeman in Les Contamines-Montjoie who said he regularly rode in the Vanoise National Park and wasn’t aware it was illegal! I guess there is probably the “law” and then the actual case that they don’t bother stopping people unless it’s a big group causing damage.
Re-rideablity, sounds similar to what we experienced or a few of the passes between Samoens and BSM.
The weight weenie/kit minimalist in me is seeing how little kit you are taking compared to us, do you have a kit list as I’m looking at seeing if I can ditch the fork bags as that would really improve the handling! Also did you find that you missed anything or would have taken anything extra?Posted 11 months ago
I will try and get the next one out over the weekend!
Oliver – I’ve no idea about the Dolomites but it looks epic, used to live in Slovenia just next door and i’d recommend riding there!
Not sure about policemen enforcing it but I’ve met several sort of park rangers out in the hills whilst living in Grenoble and been told a couple of times oh don’t go here with bikes or maybe that is not a good idea etc. So I think they enforce it. I was told by a couple of people that the most sensitive area on the GR5 is La Vallée des Merveilles which is in the Mercantour national park and you only pass through that if you take the Menton ending option. I have to say the best riding by far was in the mercantour park like but maybe I shouldn’t be advocating that.
As for kit, I wrote a bit of an overview post before diving into the day-by-day things and it has an infographic thing I made with all our kit. For some reason that I can’t work out this page on my site is super slow! So if you just open it, let it load in the background for a bit it will appear at the bottom of the page after the ‘cols’ bit and ‘villes’ section there is an ‘equipment’ section. As I write in the post, I still think we took too much stuff but we were in August so super warm and no need for all the extra warm gear except for a warm jacket and some leggings in the evenings. RE tent/tarp we had a bit of an issue regarding our combination of kit… we took a tarp cos lightweight but then we both just used the sleeping bags we had at the time as buying new sleeping bags in expensive, these were rather warm! Because of this we always wanted to sleep with sleeping bags open otherwise you’d wake up in a pool of sweat every night however the tarp was obviously also open (we actually didn’t even set this up most nights, just slept on the ground sheet) so all the creepy crawlies could come in! In the end we actually ended up aiming to sleep as high up as possible (towards 1500-2000m) was ideal so that it was either cool enough to sleep with sleeping bags open or there were much less bugs up there.
Oh and i’ve managed to get the images to link directly in to here now!
Posted 11 months ago
You have way too much spare time on your hands making graphics like that, although I’m glad I’m not the only one that found the site a bit slow!
Seems like you were a fair amount more optimistic weather wise with kit and shared a fair amount more kit between you. We had a spare set of riding kit each, I also had 2 fleeces and a down jacket (did wear all at the same time a few nights) I also think the tent, while not being too heavy (only ~700g heavier than my tarp setup) was a fair amount bulkier than a tarp. On the other hand there were points where we dropped down to camp to find some warmth!
Although my shoulder isn’t great when carrying a backpack on the bike, using a light pack for the last year seems to have helped strengthen it so I’m thinking about trying a slightly bigger bag next overnight trip to try to unload the bike a bit.Posted 11 months ago
Oliver – It did take a while but I quite enjoy it and will try make some more inventive ones int he future! (indesign makes it way faster than you might imagine). RE the weather, doing the trip in August makes a bit difference I think and we were too hot most days tbh. I reckon we could actually have gone a load lighter as well, like taking a book and spare pair of shoes was unnecessary plus we should have taken lighter sleeping bags!
I think we judged it pretty well with placement of equipment as well, the weight on the back was not bad and not having too much weight on the bike was nice when carrying and also meant it still handled pretty nicely.Posted 11 months ago
Here we have it, part 2!
It took a little longer than expected but i’ve gotten photos edited, text written and it all arranged nicely on my website for you to browse and read through. Enjoy!
If anyone is able to get imaged from the page to show up on here that would be great, it won’t work for me! I would quite like to put one or two directly into the post each time I post.Posted 11 months ago
Another great write-up, seriously jealous that we missed this bit! I know the feeling of a section of trail taking 2-3 times longer than expected, the section I found worst for this was from Col Du Bonhomme to Refuge Du Bonhomme – 1.5~ hours to do just over a kilometer!
To get the image to work, right click it, open image in new tab, then copy that address into the “IMG” box. I’ve added my favorite below! Not sure why it is, but I think it just sums up what is so great about the GR5 for me!
Posted 11 months ago
Oliver – Exactly as I did but the images weren’t showing up in the preview box?
The section of trail in this write up was thankfully the only time we underestimated how long trail would take, it was also probably one of the few sections not on the official GR5 trail so that is maybe why!Posted 11 months ago
I still can’t believe we missed this bit! Top write-up again and really wish we’d had the weather to be able to do it, although it’s looking more and more likely that I’ll be out there late June/early July this year to give a this bit a go!
I’ve head from others that the climb up col des Ayes is pretty tough, but don’t have any reference over what they would class as tough, roughly how much of it were you able to ride?Posted 11 months ago
Just wait for the next couple of days posts, that was the best stuff!
Col des Ayes was just long and it was hot, compared to others it wasn’t too difficult and actually most of it was rideable because there is a decent gravel road that goes all the way up to 2200m (out of 2480m) then you can even ride a bit of the singletrack after that before a hike-a-bike section at the end.Posted 11 months ago
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