Climbing is not a crime
This is an introduction to 'Climbing is not a crime', dreamt by Greg Hetuin during lockdown, turned into reality last Friday as he departed Geneva on a ‘one man and his bike’ adventure across the Alps, from Vienna to Nice.
"Even in the sun, neighborhood tours are long.
The impression of being in a cage while the summits are clearing snow.
The famous #outdoorisfree has never made so much sense.
Living here is a feast for the eyes on a daily basis, cycling is the best way to go and see what is going on behind a collar ... so no extended outings to respect confinement but the desire is growing every day! Indoor cycling is not cycling, it's just sport ... without the view, without the wind, without ... the essentials!"
“The borders are open and I must go”
Vienna - Nice | 2,500km | 45,000m d+
“It’s not about the distance” says Greg, as we sip our coffees at local Geneva bike cafe, La Frigale… “it’s about the climbing”. Over 20 consecutive days, he will climb a minimum of 2,500m per day. He goes on to explain that “actually, it’s not even just about cycling”.
As a former rugby player turned triathlete, Greg is a heavy, powerful rider. This trip has forced him to change his style of riding. It’s no longer about high average speeds and maximum watts, it’s about riding slowly, taking in the surroundings, discovering new places, new lakes, new mountains… and above all, new riders.
From Austria to France, crossing the Alps is not just about climbing cols. The trip is about sharing the passion of cycling, meeting new faces and also some famous faces along the way. It’s about trying to understand...
“What pushes me to do it? Why do I want to ride?”.
Austria / Italy... "A strong warm-up!"
The beginning. After a quick stopover night in Geneva chez KATUSHA, to prepare his bike and fuel up on Inglewood burgers, frites and beer, Greg arrives into Vienna by train. A quick visit to the capital, to enjoy real meals before the trip.
There are a lot of really beautiful routes to cross Austria. This trip, planned during the Covid-19 lockdown, was originally routed without venturing into Italy. Greg planned to go to the south and tickle the Dolomites without the possibility to ride Italy’s dream roads.
However, as luck would have it, the borders opened just in time. The route will follow the Murz, visiting Klagenfurt lake before climbing the king of Austria, the Grossglockner - 40km to climb 1600m - the pass is 2545m high, a true legend. Then he’ll continue straight south past Lienz to the Italian border.
“The last minute decision. Ciao Innsbruck, I’m going to Italia. To make a transalpine and not go to visit the Dolomites is like a good meal without good wine!! So "andiamo"!! A small gift of 6000 meters in elevation... that's priceless!”
Crossing into Italy, kissing the Parco naturale Tre Cime Naturpark Drei Zinnen (Dolomites UNESCO World Heritage), situated in the north-eastern corner of the Dolomites and framed by the Val Pusteria in the North, the Sesto valley in the East, the country border to Belluno in the South and the Val di Landro in the West.
From Cortina d'Ampezzo, Greg will head west towards Bolzano - the capital city of the province of South Tyrol in northern Italy - set in a valley amid hilly vineyards. The gateway to the Dolomites mountain range in the Italian Alps.
He'll climb the mighty Stelvio pass, bordering Switzerland at an elevation of 2,757m above sea level. It is the highest paved mountain pass in the Eastern Alps, and the second highest in the Alps, 7m below France's Col de l'Iseran (which all being well, he's doing 10 days later).
At Bormio Greg will enjoy his first night in a hotel, before crossing onto Swiss soil the next morning.
Into Switzerland... "Starting the serious business!"
The Swiss trip begins! From Andermatt he’ll climb Oberalp Pass (2,044m), Passo San Gottardo (2,106m), Nufenen pass (2,478m), Furka pass (2,429m). This region is Swiss cycling heaven, with legendary climb after legendary climb… full off surprises, at very high altitudes with never-ending-views.
Greg will wear the KATUSHA Switzerland kit for this leg of the trip, which features Switzerland's most famous cycling climbs. The base asphalt colour is inspired by the roads we ride on, while the red and white detailing represents the colours of the Swiss flag.
The last two days in Switzerland will be across Interlaken, tackling arguably Europe’s best cycling pass- the Grosse Scheidegg - with alpine walls and glaciers towering 1700 meters above and views of the famous Eiger Nordwand - closed to cars and only a few meters wide.
Fuelled by cheese, he'll go through the beautiful Gruyère region, via Geneva until he reaches his home country, France.
Finally arriving into France... "The cherry on the cake!"
Last step! After 25,000m d+, the hardest part begins! 700km for 15,000m d+ in 7 days. One week to enjoy the trip before swimming in the great blue. Following the ‘Grande Traversée des Alpes’, the Grand Classic menu before a giant pizza in Nice.
A crowd of legendary pass await: Joux Plane, Cormet de Roselend, Iseran, Lautaret, Galibier, Izoard, Bonette, Turini. So many climbs to make beautiful memories in wonderful places between Châtel, Beaufort, Serre Chevalier, etc. For these parts, he’ll be calling on the motivational support of friends and local riders.
Join Greg along the way
Find Greg via his Instagram page or Strava profile, send him a direct message and join him for part of the adventure. That's what it's all about. If you don't have Instagram, we'll link you up... Just write your message in the comments box at the bottom of this page.
Everyday, I’ll ride surrounded by incredible landscapes and legendary passes. My goal is to meet riders and share with them a topic: "why you love riding your bike and what attracts you to climb those passes?
He's also gratefully accepting beds along the way. As otherwise, for 13 - 15 of the nights, he's camping outside... All fun and games until the weather turns sour.
Courage Greg! See you out there...
1, 3 and final by Fabien Dupuis