Col d’Aubisque via Col du Soulor, and Falling CowsBy Will • Jun 1st, 2009 • Category: Climbs, Cycling, Favorites, pyrénées
For an overview map and details on every route I have cycled in the Pyrenées see here.
Col d’Aubisque was part of the famous 1910 stage where Octav Lapize called the race organizers “assassins.” It’s the second most famous climb in the Pyrénées after Tourmalet and has been in the Tour de France more often than not – something like 70 times.
From the east side, the classic way to climb it is via the very scenic Col du Soulor.
Both Col d’Aubisque and Col du Soulor appeared on Le Cycle magazines list of the 30 most beautiful Cols in France
But if you are planning on riding Aubisque via Soulor – TRUST ME – do not take the classic route. Instead, see my map, and do the bottom part of Soulor via Col des Bordères. Why? Because:
1. It has FAR less traffic
2. It is far more scenic, skipping the early monotonous part of Soulor
3. It is more challenging
4. You get to add another Col to your list
The deserted route to Col des Bordères goes through a beautiful little valley and then climbs out to descend down to rejoin the classic Soulor road. The climb is no joke. Roughly 750 metres of ascent and a couple of steep parts, especially the last 2 kilometres.
Back on the Soulor road, it’s really the last 5 kilometres of this climb that get interesting and beautiful as one starts to get a hint of the mountains around Aubisque.
From Soulor, the route descends to the Cirque de Litor. Formerly and sometimes still called La Cercle de la Mort – The Circle of death.
This is an amazing flattish stretch along a cliff road and through 2 little rock tunnels.
It was here in 1951 that Wim Van Est fell 70 metres off the cliff while wearing the Yellow Jersey – luckily surviving.
As I continued a cyclist descending yelled something about watch out for cows!?
And then I came upon this scene. A poor cow had fallen off the cliff and was dead. Wow.
After the Cirque du Litor, it’s about 8 kms and 350 metres climb up to Col d’Aubisque. Not hard, although the last 4 kms average 7%. The top of Aubisque is stunning:
It is VERY difficult to do a self portrait facing the camera on a road bike, with only a 10 second timer!
I descended back directly, desperately searching for a restaurant that wanted to sell me food after 2pm. The fifth open restaurant finally offered a sandwich (and a beer).
One of the best rides of the year.