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