Crossing the Alps by Bike

There are many reasons why we ride, but for those who make the effort to travel far and wide to explore new roads (you!), “adventure” must be up near the top. The promise of adventure and exploration was certainly the main reason I started guiding clients in 2010, and is still my motivation many years later.

And so it wasn’t very surprising that one day I found myself laying on the couch, reading a book called La Grande Traversée des Alpes (by Jean Annequin, a friend of a friend), and his excellent idea of crossing the entire Alps mountain range instantly made perfect sense for 44|5 Cycling Tours.

The concept is simple, but it is loaded with possibilities for adventure – a series of cycling tours that, when pieced together, would trace a rough route from one end of the Alps to the other. Finish them all and you’ll have some major bragging rights with your cycling friends back home!

Map of Project Trans-Alps, a series of cycling tours that covers the entire Alps mountain range

Starting just behind the luxury villas of the Côte d’Azur in southeast France, the Alps rise dramatically and travel north, forming the border between France and Italy, before arching to the east for a long trip through Switzerland, Italy, Slovenia and Austria.

There are many possibilities to cut your way through the highest and longest mountain range in Europe, with the full route being well over 2000km long, if done in a ‘straight line’. For the cyclist you have an extended menu of mountain passes and roads made famous by the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia, Tour of Austria, Tour of Slovenia and Tour de Suisse – Bonette, Galibier, Madeleine, Cormet de Roselend, Izoard, Vars, Petit and Grand Saint Bernards, Gotthard, Furka, Nufenen, Grosse Scheidegg, Stelvio, Sella Ronda, Giau, Tre Cime, Zoncolan, Großglockner, Kitzbüheler Horn, Krvavec, and Klanška Škrbina to name just a few in each country. There are also countless beautiful and quiet roads that do not often make their way into Grand Tours, but are no less enjoyable to ride.

Female cyclists in southern French Alps
HighRoad Southern French Alps
Female cyclist on the Col de la Croix de Fer

The Stages

Each stage of Project Trans-Alps is a week-long HighRoad tour. If you’ve ridden HighRoad Southern and Northern Alps, you’ll be happy to know that you’ve already completed the French part of the journey! For those of you who’ve come to the Dolomites with us, you have accomplished another segment in Italy.

The Plan

Project Trans-Alps will get its official start in 2024 with HighRoad Swiss Alps (contact us for an itinerary – see route below). The following are the HighRoad Tours that we will custom make to achieve our overall plan, along with those that we’ve run already. These tours can be done in any order and will depend on our / your needs and desires, plus perhaps logistics. We’ve noted years below, but if we have enough interest we could certainly run more than one a year.

Keeping with HighRoad tradition, these journeys will be A-B bike tours, with no van transfers other than from and back to your airport. We will usually spend 2 nights in each hotel along the way to ensure that you explore the area fully. Of course if you haven’t yet done the three already-run tours above, we will give you the chance to do those ‘stages’ as well!

HighRoad Swiss Alps (2024)

Rider climbing Tre Cime on a Dolomties bike tour
HighRoad Dolomites - Italy