For an overview map and details on every route I have cycled in the Pyrenées see here.
Broadly speaking, the famous climbs of the Pyrénées can be split into two categories:
1. Old mountains routes
2. Purpose built roads up to newish ski stations
The former have usually been in the Tour de France 50 or more times starting in the 1st decade of the 1900′s. The lower parts of the routes have beautiful old villages, history, ancient churches, etc.
The latter usually are well surfaced, devoid of any civilization until the top, and only have one way up.
Today’s ride was one of each type.
Both climbs started from Bagnères-de-Luchon. This posh thermal baths town is surrounded by no less than 15 peaks above 3000 metres (10,000 feet). Beautiful.
Col de Peyrseourde – 1569 metres
14.4 kms, 920 metres ascent
Col de Peyresourde has appeared around 60 (!) times in the Tour de France, first in 1910.
It’s a beautiful climb through a scenic valley, but the highlight is defintely the final couple of kilometres up fantastic hairpins. Just superb.
Just before the final hairpins there is an alternate very quiet road to descend for a few kilometres – see map below
Col de Peyresourde was listed by Le Cycle Magazine as one of the 30 most beautiful climbs in France
I knew I would enjoy Peyresourde. I was less certain about Superbagnères. But it ended up being one of the best climbs so far.
Superbagnères – 1800 metres
19.3 kilometres; 1179 metres ascent
Superbagnères has appeared 6 times in the Tour de France – first in 1961. It last appeared in 1989 when Robert Millar took the honours on his way to winning the Polka Dot Jersey.
Don’t be fooled by the average grade of 6.1 %. Much of the first half of this climb is very easy – even a bit downhill.
I was a little worried about the weather – and indeed it briefly started to rain more than an hour from the top. I considered turning back – but I didn’t expect to be back here anytime soon. So I kept going.
I loved this climb. Completely surrounded by high mountains, the route winds around a massif giving ever changing views.
It became dark for a while as I approached the top …. but the hairpins just kept getting better:
At the top are 360 degree panoramic views … I think – as the fog had rolled in when I arrived. A little more rain, but sun as well and no worries.
Superbagnères is the highlight of this ride. I hope to return one day with some sunshine.
Quiet / No Traffic