SR Mounta Cala
Mounta Cala means “Go up Go down” in Niçard (dialect that was historically spoken in the city of Nice).
What better name to imagine for a Super Randonnée?
The adventure begins in Menton and ends in Ventimiglia (Ventimiglia), after 622 km and more than 18,000 meters of elevation.
The SR Mounta Cala visits the Alpes-Maritimes, Piedmont and Liguria. The route culminates at Col de la Lombarde (2351 m), crosses the Franco-Italian border three times, and 238 kilometers are covered in Italy.
The route has a third, or 205 km, of unpaved roads.
This Super Randonnée was born from our fascination for this vertical region, difficult to access, which neither wars nor storms have spared.
The dazzling beauty of the Maralpine Mountains has to be earned. Do not ride this route if you do not like long and hard climbs. Mounta Cala!
The dirt roads of Mounta Cala
The dirt roads are mainly cyclable without requiring technical knowledge, but they are not all in good condition. Riders should have some experience of ups and downs on stony roads. The rockiest legs are the road of Vallon d'Orgials (old road of Col de la Lombarde), and the balcony road between Collardente and Colle del Garezzo. They can discourage those who are new to gravel.
Some forest roads, less stony, are likely to become muddy in case of rain (Panoramica dei Ciabot, Colla Domenica, Monte Guardiabella and perhaps others occasionally).
In the descending part of Monte Guardiabella, there are 2.5 km of connection to be made on a road which looks more like a path, where pushing is essential for anyone who does not have the know-how of mountain bikers.
The SR Mounta Cala has three major climbs on dirt roads : Authion (18 km), Granges de la Brasque (12 km) and Baisse de Sanson (12 km). Three memorable experiences for anyone who likes to climb. There are also shorter gravel climbs, such as Col de Brouis (6 km), Col de la Barbenière (6 km), Colle San Cosimo (8 km) and Monte Guardiabella (6 km).
You will also enjoy some long gravel downhills : from Camp d'Argent to La Bollène-Vésubie (17 km), from Baisse d'Ourne towards Tende (10 km), from Col de Barbenière to Puget-Rostang ( 9km).
Nothing like immersing yourself in the adventure by looking at the dirt roads of the SRMC in photos. The description offered under the following three links is the result of several rides carried out from 2019 to 2022.
Cue sheet (Road-book)
There are 15 km and 200 m of climb from Ventimiglia to Menton by the seaside... or 18 minutes by TER from Ventimiglia Stazione (a train every half hour).
The route is slightly too long for a Super Randonnée. However, it may be reduced to less than 620 km by future modifications (in particular by integrating the Selva Plane dirt road, when it is repared).
Two controls are optional:
Control 10 : road of Vallon d’Orgials (7.5 km descent from Col de la Lombarde). It has a very rocky passage. Ride it if you want to discover this old road, but do not ride it if you are in a hurry or exhausted.
Control 14 : Baisse d'Ourne. We offer a variant from Col de Tende, which consists of descending directly into the Roya valley by the Route des 46 lacets. This variant bypasses Baisse de Peirafica and Baisse d’Ourne, reduces the SR to 614 km and 17,935 m of climb, and removes 17 km of gravel. Ride it if you are pressed for time, or if you dream of riding the Route des 46 lacets ("46 bends road").
The SR Mounta Cala has a “sister”, the SR Maralpina, with 100% paved roads.
What time of year? The SR Mounta Cala is passable from the beginning of June (opening of Col de la Lombarde) to the end of autumn. Depending on the snow conditions, the opening may take place earlier in the year.
We are less "in the desert" than on the Desert-SR. During the summer season, and especially on weekends, some dirt roads are quite busy: from Col de Tende to the Roya Valley via Baisse de Peirafica and Baisse d'Ourne, from La Brigue to San Bernardo di Mendatica via Baisse de Sanson and Colle del Garezzo. Those roads are connecting to the Via del Sale ("Salt Route") network, well known to motorized 4x4 enthusiasts. If possible, do not ride these roads during the weekend, when everyone rushes into the mountains. Reserve the weekend for the other roads of this SR, they are less frequented.
Which bike to choose? The choice depends on the participant, his or her physical level, and motivations. There is no need to take a full suspension mountain bike. A classic mountain bike or a gravel bike will be fine. We recommend tires at least 44 mm wide, with small studs (rather than a smooth tire). A wider section (for example 47, or 52 mm) is preferable. We recommend using very small developments (MTB type), telescopic fork and straight handlebars. But again, it all depends on your sporting profile and your desires.
Géoportail (topographic maps of France by IGN, Institut Géographique National)
Topographic maps of France by IGN can also be viewed on Openrunner (a service requiring a subscription of 13 euros per year)
Viamichelin (Michelin maps of France)
List of Places where you will find Water
N.B. Many water points are indicated on Open Cycle Map (zoom in to see the drinking water and public toilets symbols)
Sainte-Agnès (Col Saint-Sébastien) : tap with “non-potable water” sign (?)
Col de Brouis : fountain
Parking de la Maglia : ? to be checked
Water tank at Colla Bassa : don't count on it
Water tank between Colla Bassa and Baisse de la Neggia : a trickle of water (Sept. 2021)
Camp d’Argent : two hostels, but no tap ?
Granges de la Brasque : fountain at control place
Tinée and Var Valleys
Chapelle Saint-Sauveur (plateau de Dina) : tap (if working?)
Var Valley (Daluis - Guillaumes)
Isola 2000 : many services but no tap ?
Pratolungo (in hamlet)
Olmo Bianco : tap (if working ?)
Madonna del Colletto : fountain at the start of the descent on the right
Chalet Le Marmotte : tap
Baisse de Sanson (just before pass) : fountain
San Bernardo di Mendatica
SS28 Colle di Nava (tap on the left, just before grocery "Porro")
Gazzo (at the church at the bottom of the descent)
Colle San Bartolomeo : tap next Casa Cantoniera
San Bernardo di Conio : tap on the big square
Molini di Triora
Non-exhaustive list, to be completed and corrected with your experience - for businesses, check opening days and hours - accommodation and restaurants have been identified on an online map, but for the most part have not been tested. Access to shops may require departing a little of the track.