The Col du Galibier can only be reached when the Col du Télégraphe or the Col du Lautaret has been conquered, which makes the pass one of the toughest Alpine passes in the history of cycling. From St Michel-de-Maurienne you first serve the Télégraphe. Make no mistake; the Télégraphe may be easier than what's coming, but it's also not just a warm-up. After the heavy first kilometers the climb becomes less difficult. Time to set a time, or better, save strength for the Galibier itself.
After about twelve kilometers, mostly between the trees, you reach the top of the Télégraphe with its typical wooden chapter, flanked by a skier on the right (hiver) or cyclist on the left (été) made of straw. You're already at 1566 meters altitude. Here you can take a break on the wall or across the street in the Relais du Télégraphe. On top of that you get rewarded with a fairly gentle descent of about four kilometers on a wide road to the ski village Valloire.
Of course you can also strengthen the inner man in Valloire, but this can be quite disappointing in a ski village in the middle of summer. So also here! yet, the village has some allure, but perhaps it is too far away from civilization to attract many visitors during the summer. And you won't see many cyclists here either. For many the col might be too heavy or too long. And for a round trip (a Marmotte-like one) you are a full day on the bike.
It is very quiet when you find the D902 again after a walk through the village and you continue your journey towards Galibier. Initially there is not too much fun. It's not very steep in those first few kilometers and the straight road doesn't encourage an early demarrage. That's good, because there will soon be other things to do. When you suddenly leave the river Valloire at Bonnenuit, the real climb finally seems to start. Here you get a real view on the rough and beautiful surroundings and the jagged, surrounding mountain tops. Yet you still get a few kilometers of relaxation, but when you see Plan Lachat on your left, things are starting off.
The climb now takes a wide turn to the right and the final can begin. Via a few hairpin bends you will soon be about 200 meters higher. The landscape gets rougher and rougher. Try to enjoy it anyway. A bit further you reach la Grange du Galibier, where next to one of the famous garbage cans (throw your garbage in here!) there is also a statue of Marco Pantani. To be honest, we missed it. Luckily not the garbage can.
The Galibier now remains persistently steep. After a hairpin bend, follows a wide arch to get an overview of fellow climbers on the mountain. A few hairpin bends later, we reach the restaurant named after the mountain. We are at an altitude of 2556 meters and it gets chilly here, even in summer. Here, you can take the tunnel straight on to the other side of the mountain, but of course you drive straight on to the top. After all, it's just one kilometre anymore, but because of the altitude and the ascent (still 106 altitude meters!) it's very heavy. Finally, you reach the summit where you get one of the most beautiful views of the Alps as a reward. Here you are!
And now that you've gotten here, some good news. Actually, the Galibier is the toughest road bike col on the French mainland. Before the Col de la Loze and Mont Ventoux. When you take the real altimeters into account (2089 altimeters in total) you'll end up with a Climbbybike difficulty index score of 182.8! Congratulations!