Col du Tourmalet – West Side

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For an overview map and details on every route I have cycled in the Pyrenées see here.

Col du Tourmalet - west side Pic du Midi de Bigorre

The west side was still closed to cars but I had spoken to a couple of cyclists yesterday and knew that I should be able to get to the top.

For details of the east side of Tourmalet see here.

The first 7 or 8 kilometres are pretty standard – through little villages up to Barèges. However, after this it becomes one of the most beautiful climbs I have ever done – and nicer than the east side in my view.

Which side of Tourmalet is harder? In my opinion, the east side. The west side is shorter and thus has a higher average grade, but it is a steady 7% – 8% almost the entire way. Whereas the west side starts off quite easy, but the last 12 kms average a tough 9%. Regardless, both are fantastic and challenging climbs.

Surrounded by high mountains and dominated by the Pic du Midi the route winds up and up.

West side Tourmalet

The top part of the route was still messy and muddy, especially the last kilometre but rideable. It was worth a little mess to have this incredible road be completely car free.

Tourmalet - west side

Col du Tourmalet last 2 kms

This was the last climb of a great 6 day trip. After descending, I got in the car and headed back home – tired but satisfied.


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Happiest while cycling uphill. More enthusiastic than talented, my 2014 Challenge is to cycle 50 great rides, slowly.

7 Comments

  1. Pingback: Pyrénées Trip Summary : Cycling Challenge

  2. Thanks for that, Will. Headed down that way for a little Tour-gazing next week and more all the more inspired by the great snaps. Just hoping the forecast doesn’t include snow. (!) Good luck with the 100 Cols. (Another bit of inspiration.) RB

  3. Pingback: Col du Tourmalet and both sides of Col d’Aspin : Cycling Challenge

  4. Hi Will, myself and two friends are doing the Tourmalet in June, can’t wait really excited but apprehensive and respectful towards the Col at the same time.

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