Our October guest blog comes from Paul and Ingrid who share their experience of a great few days cycling the Cols of the Pyrenees...
“Félicitations” was the taxi driver’s generous response as we described our grande finale climb to the Col du Tourmalet the previous day. Still on a high, we were returning to Lourdes airport from Argelès-Gazost after three wonderful days cycling in the beautiful high Pyrenees. Glimpsed, snow-covered, away in the distance earlier this year, they had called us back and did not disappoint.
LoveVelo arranged the ideal package for us: taxi transfers, great bike hire and four nights half-board in a wonderful hotel in the heart of Argelès-Gazost.
It’s the perfect cyclists’ hotel, run by Philippe a mad keen cyclist himself, it was roomy, had secure bike storage with pumps and rags, laundry, and inside or outside drying. The plentiful delicious food included the option of an extra pasta course at dinner. We sat at a large table with other cyclists where Philippe helped us mix easily, also providing us with le météo and webcam pictures of the Cols each morning.
On our first morning, a short walk up the Voie Verte bike path took us to collect our bikes. Our carbon Lapierre hire bikes were top spec, well looked after and perfectly set up for us.
Love Velo's route suggestions were ideal: quiet roads into Vallées d’Estaing and d’Arrens, crossing Col des Bordères between; so scenic that we kept climbing to the end of the road by Gave du Tech (where we met a steaming, overheated Citroen), achieving plenty of ascent before heading “home” via the faster-but not busy - main road.
This winding village warm up and swift (ish) downhill was the pattern for our second day: Col du Soulor and Col d’Aubisque. Cut into the mountainside and including two short tunnels, the Cirque du Litor-linking the two cols-is described as one of the most beautiful roads in the world. In good conditions it was less hair-raising than it looked, fortunately; the scariest moment was a close encounter with an aggressive cow.
Our third and final day simply had to be Tourmalet, given the ideal conditions … and the extra pasta. We paced ourselves for the official 18.6 km climb from Luz St Saveur, which was exhilarating, particularly tough at the end and a long way back down!
Our hotel was well looked after and so were we: our last day, with the airport taxi at 14.55, might have felt rather aimless, but no, our excellent host Philippe lent us a guidebook and set us off on a lovely, well-timed walk from Argelès-Gazost; an unexpected fourth day of holiday exploring a lovely location.
All in all an amazing value holiday – great cycling – ALLEZ!