The Col de la Croix de Fer (2067m) is yet another great col in this wonderful area of France that is also home to the Galibier and Alpe d'Huez. On the notoriety stakes it is probably overshadowed by its more illustrious neighbours - less steep, and with fewer mad spectators - but it is without doubt one of the most beautiful rides in the area.
Approaching the Col de la Croix de Fer
The long valley gives a majestic ride through stunning scenery with fewer zig-zag sections than most of the cols hereabouts. For much of the climb it is a fairly steady gradient which can seem a little endless and makes you realise how zig-zag bends provide useful targets. There is even the novelty of some downhill hairpins when you least expect them as the road drops across the valley to tackle it from the other side. These come as a bit of a shock on the descent from the summit. Near the top you can grab a free 'extra col'. The Col du Glandon (1924m) branches off just before the main Croix de la Fer and is the more popular route for the mighty Marmotte circuit to take.
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