Pyrenees Coast to Coast
This is another classic cycle trip, Coast to Coast across the Pyrenees, taking in some of the legendary cols used in the Tour de France, such as Aubisque, Tourmalet, Aspin, Peyresourd and many others.
The trip will take place from Saturday 7th September - Saturday 14th September 2019
Starting in St. Jean de Luz on the Atlantic Coast, close to the Spanish border, the ride will cross the Pyrenees from West to East, finishing in Argeles sur Mer on the Mediterranean Coast. We will largely follow the classic Raid Pyrenean route with a few deviations.
We will stay in good quality hotels along the route and breakfast and evening meals are provided to ensure that you are well nourished after the day's efforts.
Arrive in Toulouse and be transported to St. Jean de Luz where we will spend our first night before starting the ride on Sunday. Evening meal will be in a local restaurant, where we will give our pre ride briefing and answer any questions.
Our first day is lumpy rather than brutal but you will still climb 3 small cols and ascend over 2200m over the 146km distance from St. Jean de Luz to Oloron Sainte Marie. The Col De St Ignace (169m), Col De Pinodieta (176m) and Col d'Osquich (500m) are your first taste of the mountains to come. The route passes through St. Jean Pied de Port, which as you may know is one of the main starting points on the Camino de Santiago, which crosses northern Spain.
Our first night will be spent in Oloron Sainte Marie.
Stats: 147km. 2228m climbed.
Day 2 really starts to give you what you came for - high mountains. We start by leaving Oloron Sainte Marie and riding towards the Cat 1. Col de Marie Blanque. At just over 9km long, with an average gradient of 7.5% the col rises to 1035m. Certainly not one of the monsters you will tackle later in the week but definitely not to be underestimated.
After descending the col, we will ride to Laruns and begin the climb of the formidable HC Cat Col d'Aubisque. 18km of steep twisty road, fortunately most of which is shaded. A short descent from the top follows before you start climbing again but only for a few km to the Col de Soulor. The reward for your efforts is a 20km descent down to Argeles-Gazost where we will spend the night.
Stats: 87km. 2553m climbed.
Day 3 takes us on one of the most famous roads in cycling - the D918 - over the Col du Tourmalet, Col d'Aspin and then joins the D618 to go over the Col de Peyresourd. A classic Tour de France route.
After breakfast in Argeles-Gazost, we will immediately start to climb the 18km western side of the highest pass on the tour, the Col de Tourmalet at 2115m. A fabulous descent of 17km awaits on the other side, taking us down to St. Marie de Campan. Officionados of the Tour de France will know this tiny village as the place where Eugene Christophe lost the lead of the 1913 Tour after being forced to weld his forks by himself due to Tour rules prohibiting outside assistance. A memorial is in place at the junction of the Cols de Tourmalet and Aspin.
Straight out of the village, we will start to climb the Cat 1 Col d'Aspin. The western side is fortunately the easier side with a gradient averaging only about 5% for the first 7km. It does ramp up a bit after passing the Lac de Payolle but is never too fierce. When you reach the summit, watch out for wandering cattle!
The descent of the Aspin is fast and twisty - great fun if you are a fan of descending, a bit nerve wracking if you aren't.
At the bottom of the Aspin, we reach Arreau, which signals the start of the final climb of the day, the Cat 1 Col de Peyresourd. You start a gentle climb straight out of Arreau but the climb of the Peyresourd doesn't officially start for another 9km, when you reach the fork in the road at Genos. From here it is 10km to the summit at around 8% for much of the way.
As many of you may have seen in the 2016 Tour de France, when Chris Froome attacked, the descent of the Peyresourd is fast! After the top hairpins there is a 5km straightish section where you can easily reach 80kmh, but beware, after a couple of gentle bends, the road hits a T junction where you do not have right of way! This is only about half way down so once you have crossed the junction, more fantastic descent awaits before we reach our overnight stop in what I believe is the best town in the Pyrenees - Bagneres de Luchon.
Stats: 120km. 3659m climbed.
These cows today...
Le Geant du Tourmalet
Fabio Casartelli Memorial
Col de Mente
We're off to Spain this morning! Straight out of town, we will climb the Cat 1 Col de Portillon. A pleasant 12km climb which takes us to the Spanish border. After descending to Bossost, we will ride down the Garonne Valley and back into France to St. Beat where we will begin the hard climb of the Col de Mente - a 13km climb which rarely falls below 9%. The reward once you reach the top though is a superb descent with outstanding views.
At the bottom we will turn right on to the Portet d'Aspet. Shortly after starting the climb we will pass the memorial to Fabio Casartelli, who was killed descending this road during the 1995 Tour de France. The Aspet is a short but steep climb. At 6km this would normally be categorised as a Cat 3 but the steepness elevates it to Cat 2. Fortunately, after reaching the summit we will descend gently for about 30km before riding along the valley in the beautiful Ariegeois National Park for a further 30km.
Our final climb of the day will be the Col de Port - a 17km climb but with a fairly gentle gradient averaging 5% (although there is one spiteful section at 13km).
The descent of the Col de Port will take us out of the National Park to our overnight stop at Tarascon sur Ariege.
Stats: 152km. 3476m climbed.
Today starts off fairly gently with a 20km ride up the valley to Ax les Thermes, before tackling the long climb up the Col de Puymorens which tops out at 1915m. A great descent takes us to Puigcerda on the Spanish border before we then tackle the triple header of the Cols de Llous, Rigat and la Perche - although don't panic, as these lead on to one another and don't include big descents before starting the next one.
Our overnight stay will be in Prades, on the edge of the Catalanes Pyrenees National Park.
Stats: 138km. 2293m climbed.
Our final day of riding starts with an easy ride past the lake at Vinca before heading to the hills once more and our final climb before the coast.
After the climbs tackled earlier in the week, the Colle de Xatard will seem fairly insignificant in comparison but it is our last climb of the week and gives us a lovely descent of about 20km before we hit the flat roads leading to the coast.
We will arrive for a celebration drink on the sea front at Argeles sur Mer before going to our hotel and enjoying a fabulous celebration dinner on our last night.
Stats: 86km. 1001m climbed.
We will transport you back to Toulouse Airport for your return flight home, complete with "war stories" and happy memories!
Shared Room: £1295.00 per person
Single Room: £1595.00 per person
Costs include, transport to and from Toulouse Airport, hotel accommodation, breakfast, dinner with wine and souvenir riding jersey. The ride will be fully supported with on road guides and vehicle support.
Please note that minor repairs can be undertaken but major problems may need attention from a bike shop. We will carry spares (tubes, chain links, tyres etc.) but we advise you to bring anything you think you may need in case it is not available in the mountains.
Flight costs are not included in the cost of the trip.
Please note these costs are based on an exchange rate of 1.14€ to £1.00. Please see our terms regarding currency fluctuations.