Chamonix offers gravel riders several high passes to choose from... but they aren't easy!
There’s a reason that gravel biking as a dedicated cycling discipline rose to prominence in Kansas: the heartland of the United States is covered in thousands and thousands of miles of smooth gravel roads with mellow grades. What better way to explore these wide-open spaces than on a drop-bar road bike with slightly wider, more aggressive tires?
From its humble origins in Kansas, gravel biking as a dedicated discipline and breed of bicycle has spread around the world. Here in Chamonix, you can indeed tackle stunningly-beautiful dirt roads on your gravel rig… but be forewarned that almost all of the roads here are steep. These roads were not designed with cyclists in mind whatsoever. Whenever there’s elevation to be gained, the roads tend to rocket straight up the mountainside.
In order to tackle these steep roads, mount up the easiest gearing that you possibly can. In fact, if you have the option to swap a mountain bike drivetrain onto your gravel bike, do it. Your knees will thank you later!
While most of the routes in this guidebook consist of the afore-mentioned quad-shredding steeps, there is one mellow gravel route detailed here that runs up and down the floor of the Chamonix Valley. So if you do enjoy gravel cycling but don’t enjoy brutalizing your body, opt for the Chamonix Valley Gravel Ride.