Col d Allos and Praloup

Col d Allos bends

Date: 28th July 2023

Climb: Col d Allos
Ride No. 97
Grade: 9/10

Climb: Praloup
Ride No. 96
Grade: 4/10

Location: Barcelonnette

Climb: Col d Allos
Segment ID:
My Time:1:29:21

Climb: Praloup
Segment ID:
My Time: 0:28:37




It’s close and closed

The Col d Allos is only 3Km from my campsite and I planned it as my weekend ride, but then I discovered Friday was a designated “Close Road Morning” (Cyclists only).


Being made of sugar, the early morning downpour scuppered my intended early start which was a shame.

It did allow for an even larger breakfast than usual, so no opportunity was wasted.

I am not a huge fan of riding up and down mountains in the rain Its not pleasent as generally the further up you go the more in the rain clouds you are, plus its usually cold too.

The trauma of climbing Semnoz was still fresh in my mind (and probably always will be).


Legally passing a barrier novelty

At 10:00, the sun made a welcome appearance and so it was time to saddle up for Barcelonnette for the start of the Col d Allos.

Like a few climbs already this year, a second climb opportunity presents itself on the descent, the Pra-Loup.

The first part of the climb up to the Pra-Loup turn on the Col d’Allos is relatively easy, with a gradient of 4-5%.

At the turn, a smiling Gendarme was there to greet cyclists as he stood guarding the road barrier.

Seeing someone manning the barrier left me very impressed and amazed. I had expected just a pole or sign on the road.

As the climb continued and had now risen to 8%, it was a novelty to use the full width of the road legally without the fear of irate motorised transport.

My expectation was that the road would be full of riders taking advantage of the closure, but there seemed very few.


Being a carrot and chasing them

There were a few carrots to chase, but then a young lady pulled alongside me. She slowed down to greet me and, after a brief exchange; she was up and around the next bend in an instant.

10 minutes later, a chap passes me. He is wearing a polka dot jersey. Like the young lady, he eased, greeted me, then just flew up the road.

I was in awe; he was pedalling was smooth and totally in control; he was undoubtedly the best climber I had seen in the Alpes this year.

As I reached the halfway point of the climb, the gradient dropped back to 5% as it passed over several bridges.

The last section, though, returned to 8% for the rest of the climb.

This was the land of the carrots 🙂  as a dozen or more riders lined the road.

Despite my cheerful, “Bonjour” those that responded only grunted a Neanderthal half grunt.


A stranger in town

At the exact moment I arrived at the summit, riders already there parted like the red sea.

The Brompton arrived like a stranger in a western cowboy saloon.


Wow, what a family!

As I milled around getting the photos, I spotted a young lad, possibly about 12 years old.

He looked splendid, all kitted out with his Team Pog jersey.

I walked over to him and shook his hand to say well done for climbing the Col.

He was not British but could readily converse.(this often embarasses me in my inability of being able to converse in other languages).

He was a bright and looked cheerful despite the slightly puzzled look as he glanced at the Brompton.

After a few moments, his father and mother come over to join him and blow me down.

It was the young lady and the chap in the polka dot jersey who had passed me earlier.

We spent a while chatting and all of them were on a family day out riding the Cols.

While other riders at the Col summit were gasping and wheezing, the young lad was champing at the bit and ready to ride.

Wow, I thought, amazing.

I wish I had caught his name, so in the future when he is riding a grand tour I could that I met him riding up a Col when he was 11.


Incoming and upcoming

The road had now reopened, and the traffic flood gates spewed the car drivers and motorcyclists in their desperate hurry to go somewhere or other.

The narrow road descent was understandably cautious, particularly with the tight bends and traffic.

Finally, back to the scene of the roadblock and the Praloup turning.

I had heard of this climb but I didn’t really know too much about it, except that it was short and not too demanding.

After an opening 0.5Km “legs wake up” call, the remaining 6Km was quite uninteresting and frankly boring.

There was certainly, no Col d Allos excitement.

Compared to the Col d Allos the road surface upthe 5% gardient was a big improvement.

As was now becoming obvious, this was going to another empty ski lodge town, and it was relatively so.

The segment finish was not the most obvious one I had crossed but as I weaved through the empty streets and started a descent I was satisfied that somehere I had crossed it.

The deserted shops and apartments were not appealing to entice me to stop longer than I needed, and so the priority shifted to enjoying a cheese baguette and coffee at Barcelonnette.