To most cyclists riding in the Alps, the Galibier is like an old friend. Its 2,645-meter (8,678-foot) summit is often the high point of the Tour de France and it’s been crossed regularly since the Tour’s first foray into these mountains in 1911. The Galibier—which separates the Savoie region from that of the Hautes-Alpes at the beginning of the southern French Alps—is on the bucket list of any self-respecting cyclist.

While riders often climb the southern face from the alpine town of Briançon or from Bourg d’Oisans, at the foot of L’Alpe d’Huez, there’s no question that our weekend warriors want to attack the Galibier from the north. “When you ride the Galibier you have to do the northern face. It’s longer and just more mythic,” says Jérôme, a longtime mountain guide in the region. “There are false flats mixed with steep pitches and the scenery changes all the time. There is so much variety.”

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