September 8th-16th, 2017 – Experience the rugged beauty and superb cycling of the French Pyrénées in an epic coast-to-coast ride. Beginning in Biarritz on the Atlantic coast, and finishing in Collioure on the Mediterranean Sea, our Transpyrénéenne is the definitive Pyrenean cycling experience. The route includes the majority of the classic Pyrenean cols, as we follow the Route historique du Tour de France. From the lush rolling hills of the Basque country in the east, through the dramatic jagged peaks of the high mountains, and finally to the arid Mediterranean countryside in the west, this grand touring epic has it all.
On the road, you will be supported by our professional guides, and will benefit from constant vehicle back up for the duration of the ride. Accommodation is in comfortable hotels and one restored 16th century chateau. The group size is limited to ten riders in order to ensure the highest levels of service are provided.
Total distance: 708km
Total climbing: 10,384m
Major climbs: Col d’Osquich 5.5km at 5.3%
The opener of this six-day mountain classic begins in the resort town of Biarritz, on the Atlantic coast. After the traditional paddle in the breakers, we cross the town for around 10km before picking up the route impériale des Cimes. The terrain is rolling, with a number of short, steep climbs to test the legs.
The only col of the day, the Col d’Osquich comes at the 70km mark. At 5.5km with an average gradient around 5%, it provides a good warm-up for the tougher days ahead. The route then descends to the town of Mauléon-Licharre, from which point the road climbs gently to our destination of Lanne-en-Barétous, where we stay in a superbly restored 16th century château.
Major climbs: Col de Marie-Blanque 9.3km at 7.7%; Col d’Aubisque 16.6km at
7.2%; Col du Soulor 2.1km at 5.2%
At a little over 90km, the second day is the shortest of the trip but it is here that the climbing begins in earnest, with three Tour de France staples on the menu. First up is the Col de Marie-Blanque. Its 9km begin steadily, but the gradient ramps up towards the summit with the final 3km averaging 12%.
After the descent, a short flat run brings us to the town of Laruns where we pause for a light lunch. Light, because the Col d’Aubisque – a 16.6km hors catégorie behemoth– kicks up sharply no sooner have you had time to digest your baguette. Although the Aubisque is one of the toughest climbs of the trip it offers some spectacular views, as well as a unique opportunity to attempt to mount one of three giant bicycle sculptures at the summit.
The Col du Soulor follows quickly on from the Aubisque, but we approach it from by far the least taxing of its three sides. After only another 2km of climbing, we begin the long, technical descent to the finish in Saint Savin. Here, an excellent dinner is served by a friendly chef who looks like he may well have consumed all the foie gras available in the south of France.
Major climbs: Col du Tourmalet 19km at 7.4%; Col d’Aspin 12.8km at 5%; Col de
Peyresourde 8.3km at 7.6%
The third day continues in the same vein as the second as we continue on the Route historique de Tour de France, and is probably the toughest in terms of climbing. We begin by tackling the mythical Col du Tourmalet. At 2,115m, this is also the high point of the trip.
Next up is the Col d’Aspin. The climb, although long, is relatively gentle and the least challenging of the day’s three mountains, the average gradient being around 5%. We stop for lunch at the top, where you will almost certainly be joined by some of the local cattle herds.
After a very enjoyable descent, there is a long drag to the foot of the final climb of the day, the Col de Peyresourde, scene of many a legendary Tour de France mano-amano. It makes for a tough finish, with the gradient averaging almost 8% over 8km.
After a very fast 15km descent we reach our destination for the day, Bagnères de Luchon.
Major Climbs: Col des Ares 8.4km at 3.9%; Col de Portet d’Aspet 4.5km at 9.6%;
Col de Port 12.3km at 4.8%
The route starts with around 20km of flat roads before tackling the Col des Ares, which (compared with the previous day’s exertions) is not too challenging. At around the 50km point comes the Col de Portet d’Aspet. This is the toughest col of the day, averaging almost 10% for 4.5km. Near the foot of the climb you will pass the memorial to Fabio Casartelli, a sobering reminder of the dangers of the sport.
We stop after 80km for lunch in an idyllic setting next to the river Lez in Engomer. A gentle descent then brings us to Saint Girons, at which point we turn south to follow the Gorges de Ribaute. The road climbs very gently to Massat, where we begin the final climb of the day, the Col de Port. At 12km with an average gradient of 5%, it is not as tough as the climbs of the previous two days. The descent from the top to the finish in Tarascon sur Ariège is one of the most enjoyable of the trip. The wide sweeping turns and good road surface make for a fantastic end to the day.
Major Climbs: Col de Marmare 11.8km at 4.4%; Col de Jau 19.1km at 5.6%
Day 5 kicks off with a very steep climb of around 4km that takes us onto the Route des Corniches, a rolling plateau road with spectacular views. At the 30km mark we begin the first ‘real’ climb of the day, the 12km Col de Marmare. As climbs go, it is very pleasant, both in terms of scenery and gradient. From the top of the Marmare there is a short descent onto a second, higher plateau, where we make our way
through lush alpine meadows.
The final test of the day is the Col de Jau. At 19km, its toughest section comes between Sainte Colombe sur Guette and the junction for the village of Roquefort-deSault. From the top, it’s downhill all the way to the finish town of Moligt-les-Bains.
Major Climbs: Col de Fourtou 17.4km at 2.6%
Following breakfast we make the short descent to the town of Prades. From here,
15km of undulating terrain brings us to the final major climb of the trip, the Col de Fourtou. While long, the climb follows a gorge and is therefore not very steep. There is the chance for a coffee before the top in the village of Boule d’Amont. This
provides a nice breather, as the final 4km of the Fourtou are the toughest of the climb.
A long descent brings us to our lunch stop in the town of Ceret, before picking up a flat stretch of cycle path all the way to the Mediterranean at Argelès-sur-Mer. After catching our first glimpse of the sea since leaving Biarritz, we turn south and take the spectacular, hilly coastal road for around 25km to our final destination town of Cerbère. Once we pull up at the hotel on the seafront, it’s time to off the cycling shoes and take to the sea for a group photo, and savour the achievement of completing what is a truly epic grand touring route.
10 cyclists maximum
The Price Includes:
- Private airport transfers
- Single room accommodations
- Assistance to assemble and pack your bike
- All meals and sports nutrition
- Professional mechanic
- Experienced guides
- Professionally equipped support vehicles
Register for the Trans Pyrénées Trip HERE.