Col d'Aspin

Situated to the east of the famous Col du Tourmalet, the Col d’Aspin is a climb that largely you will ride as a mountain pass to get between the Tourmalet, or the town of Campan to the east or the commune of Arreau and the Col de Peyresourde to the west.

However, the Col d’Aspin, in its own right is a climb that deserves respect and is one of our favourite mountains in the area, having ridden it on one of the first Bikecation trips back in 2011.

It is not just Bikecation that has history with the Aspin, the Tour de France has ridden over the mountain an amazing 71 times, with famous moments such as in 1950 when Gino Bartali being knocked over by crowds when battling it out with local Frenchman Jean Robic at the summit, decided to take his revenge by then taking down the Frenchman himself, winning the stage and leaving the race in protest the next day.

The Col d’Aspin is slightly longer from Campan, at 18 km in length it has a slightly easier gradient, averaging out to just over 4%, in comparison to riding it from the west and Arreau in which you will find a slightly harder 12 km with an average of 6.5% gradient. There are similarities between riding the two sides, the hairpin bends always seem a little too far apart to get into a good pedaling rhythm, but once you have found your pace the climb doesn’t get as steep as its neighbouring climbs which makes it a little easier to pace yourself to the summit at 1,490m.

The views high above the Aure valley reward you for your effort, and hopefully no matter which way you are heading you still have a little left in the tank to get you to the summit of the next mountain top, or to your final destination of the day, the hotel bar with a chilled bière in hand.

FIND OUT MORE about riding the Col d'Aspin in this Pyrenean self-guided trip.

 

La Hourquette d'Ancizan

Located between the small Pyrenean villages of Payolle in the north, and Ancizan to the south, La Hourquette d'Ancizan runs parallel to the Col d’ Aspin that is visible in the background when looking out to the north east. Much like the Aspin, you will most likely find yourself riding the mountain pass when cycling between Campan or the Tourmalet and the Col de Peyresourde and Bagnères-de-Luchon.

It is a slightly smaller road than the Aspin and provides you with a much quieter ascent. From Campan, which acts as the official start when riding south, an ‘easier’ beginning of the climb changes to a relentless and tough gradient once past the village of Payolle. The climb is characterized by a short descent before the final 3km kick up to the top. This is the longer side to ride, at 17 km with an average gradient of 4%. The more challenging 10km side from Ancizan has an average gradient of 8% and no short descents or flatter sections to rest on. You will be bombarded with km signposts indicating over 7, 8 and 9 percent averages. Without rest bites and hairpins to gage your effort you will have to settle into your pace quickly and work your way to the clearing at the top.

The summit provides views that stretch over to the observatory that sits on top of the Pic du Midi de Bigorre that is also visible when riding the Tourmalet.

WANT TO RIDE La Hourquette d'Ancizan? Contact the Bikecation team and they will help with plan your next Pyrenean trip.

 

Lac de Cap-de-Long

When visiting the Pyrenees it’s hard not to get carried away with trying to tick off all the historic Tour de France climbs that are packed into the Hautes-Pyrénées region, and as much as the Col du Tourmalet and Col d’Aubisque are truly spectacular climbs, there is something special about taking yourself away from the busier mountain paths and riding routes within this stunning mountain range that are less travelled and remain off the beaten track.

The Lac de Cap-de-Long, is one of those climbs that does not get the attention of it’s well known neighbours, the aforementioned Col du Tourmalet and also the likes of the Col d'Aspin and Col de Peyresourde, but this does not mean it is not a brutal climb that will test you to your limit and reward you with one of the most memorable experiences you will have on the bike when visiting the Pyrenees.

The official length of the climb is on par with some of the biggest climbs in the area, 22.7 km in length, with an average gradient of 6% the climb is gentle enough to begin with after departing from Saint-Lary-Soulan, but with a series of hairpin bends after 8 km the climbing becomes much harder as you zigzag up to the glittering Lac d’Oredon. The road dips for a short descent before the finale, an onslaught of 4 more hairpins over 10% in gradient.

Atop the climb you are greeted by the immense dam that holds back the lake and stunning peaks of the Massif du Néouvielle jutting upwards in the background. An abundance of flora and fauna to gaze over adds to the tranquility and remoteness that you feel at the summit.

This particular Pyrenean climb is a there and back, and after a brief respite, it won’t be long until you are heading back down through the switch backs to the foot of the mountain. This provides you with the scale of the climb you have just ridden, as the descent provides its own challenge, crouched down, with hands on the drops and concentration levels through the roof, by the time you have reached a café back in Saint-Lary-Soulan, you will feel the relief in your back. Time for some well-deserved mille feuille.

ANY QUESTIONS? The Lac de Cap-de-Long can be added to your Pyrenean trip with the help of the team at bikecation. Feel free to get in touch for more information.

 

 

 


 

Contact us

Find or plan a road cycling break in the Pyrenees by getting in touch with us below

Just let us know your prefered dates and how many miles you would like to ride and we will do the rest. We can provide you with advice, book your bike hire, accommodation and much more.

 

 

 

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