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Cycling, Wine and Cultural Tours in the Dordogne, Pyrenees and Southwest of France.

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Conquer the Pyrenees

Chateau de Pitray
Chateau de Pitray

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  • The Pyrenees 1000
    Trip cost:  $4200 Dollars.
    Dates:  Aug 27 to Sept 11.
    • Cols of the Pyrenees Ride:
    • Puerto Otxondo - 602 m
    • Puerto de Artesiaga - 996 m
    • Collado de Urkiaga - 890 m
    • Col d’Iraty - 1135 m
    • Col Bagargui - 1327 m
    • Col de Suscousse - 1216 m
    • Col de Soudet - 1540 m
    • Col de Marie Blanque - 1035 m
    • Col d’Aubisque - 1709 m
    • Col de Soulor - 1474 m
    • Col du Tourmalet - 2115 m
    • Col d’Aspin - 1489 m
    • Col d’Azet - 1737 m
    • Col de Peyresourde - 1569 m
    • Col du Portillon - 1320 m
    • Col de Mente - 1349 m
    • Col Portet d’Aspet -1069 m
    • Col de Catchaudegue - 893 m
    • Col Latrape - 1520 m
    • Col d’Agnes - 1570 m
    • Port de Liers - 1517 m
    • Pas de Souloumbrie - 911 m
    • Col de Mamare - 1361 m
    • Col de Chioula - 1431 m
    • Port de Pailheres - 2001 m
    • Col de Palomere - 1036 m
    Ride Across the Pyrenees Cycling Challenge

    Ride Across the French Pyrenees - Coast to Coast - and Back !

    1000 miles, 100'000 ft climbing, 12 days riding + 2 rest days.

    August 27th to September 11th - 2017.  Contact me about signing up

     

    Ride Across the Pyrenees bike trip

    The 2012 riders who made it across the Pyrenees, coast to coast, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea and back. From left to right: Melissa, Dave, Lynda, Brian, Doug, Mike and Jeff. This year, with a couple of small modifications to the route, the actual elevation for the entire ride exceeded 100,000 ft over 1000 miles. I guess I need to edit the jersey for next year.

    The following pictures of the Pyrenees trip are not in chronological order.

    Ride Across the Pyrenees bike trip

    Coming down the Col d'Iraty in the Basque country of France. Off in the distance is the fog from the Atlantic seashore. My guess is that we are about 50 miles inland. Another tough day of riding in the mountains. There is no such thing as an easy climb in the Pyrenees, though when you finish a 90 mile ride with 12000 ft of climbing, a ride with only 8000 ft seems easy.

    Ride Across the Pyrenees bike trip

    Mike making his way up the Col du Porte de Pailheres - on the eastern end of Pyrenees - and his first real taste of a Pyrenees climb. I asked him how the Pyrenees compared to the climbs in the Colorado Rockies. His answer, "much harder in the Pyrenees."

    Ride Across the Pyrenees bike trip

    The top of the Col d'Aubisque, a mountain pass that is often featured in the Tour de France. About 6 years ago they put these gigantic bicycles at the summit to commemorate the history of the Tour and the Aubisque.

    Ride Across the Pyrenees bike trip

    Back in the Basque country on the final day of the trip. I am very thankful that every year that I have done this trip we have always had mostly good weather. It is a real treat to ride through the Pyrenees with sunshine and warm weather, a sag wagon to pamper you, and immaculately paved roads.

    Ride Across the Pyrenees bike trip

    Of course a picture can never capture the actuality of been on site, but if you take a moment to study the depth of the mountains in this image you can maybe use your imagination to fill in the blanks.

    Ride Across the Pyrenees bike trip

    A strong headwind is one thing that can break a rider's will on a bike. On this day we left the Mediterranean coast to head into the mountains, a 90 mile day with a relentless headwind all day, and at times almost comical in it's intensity. If you look at the foliage by the road sign on the right side of the picture you can see the wind. I like to tell my clients, "when in doubt in the Pyrenees you must attack!" No one had any doubts on this day.

    Ride Across the Pyrenees bike trip

    Beware that the Basque country owes its lush green foliage to the rain. On a day like today it all looks so perfect and inviting, the way I intended and planned on, but there are without a doubt days of reckoning - which the other bike tour riders can suffer.

    Ride Across the Pyrenees bike trip

    I think the most prevalent structure in France is a church. Before we had google maps, one would just say I'll meet you at the church." Works every time.

    Ride Across the Pyrenees bike trip

    I think the proper caption is, "Grown-ups behaving like children ... and then something went terribly wrong."

    Ride Across the Pyrenees bike trip

    I suspect that Jeff has something other than water in his bottle

    Ride Across the Pyrenees bike trip

    On the second rest day, some of us still decided to go for a ride. We saw this road from across the valley ... and we made sure to avoid it.

    Ride Across the Pyrenees bike trip

    If it was up to me I would add a few more rose geranium plants, don't you think? You know, build it up a little.

    Ride Across the Pyrenees bike trip

    The foot hills of the mid Pyrenees.

    Ride Across the Pyrenees bike trip

    The approach to the col du Soulor on the east side.

    Ride Across the Pyrenees bike trip

    ... and the summit of the col du Soulor.

    Ride Across the Pyrenees bike trip

    Ride Across the Pyrenees bike trip

    This is me stressed out at work in the Pyrenees. It's one of those "dirty jobs," but someone has got to do it.

    Ride Across the Pyrenees bike trip

    The statue at the top of the Col du Tourmalet.

    Ride Across the Pyrenees bike trip

    Sometimes it does rain, for a little bit, no big deal. The Col d'Agnes.

    Ride Across the Pyrenees bike trip

    Basque country 100%.

    Ride Across the Pyrenees bike trip

    The morning routine on the way to the first climb of the day.

    Ride Across the Pyrenees bike trip

    What we have here are two riders, dead tired, on the 3rd climb of the day, at about mile 75 with 10000 ft so far. We are riding up the Gavarnie and there is no end in sight to the top.

    Ride Across the Pyrenees bike trip

    This Ass was doing his best to stick his mug into our food.

    Ride Across the Pyrenees bike trip

    The view from the hotel room somewhere in the Basque country.

    Ride Across the Pyrenees bike trip

    I still can't see the top of the Gavarnie.

    Ride Across the Pyrenees bike trip

    The contrast is obvious. Melissa is cresting the col d'Aspin, the first climb of the day, and she's sprinting over the top. The end of the day is a different story.

    Ride Across the Pyrenees bike trip

    A 100 yards from the top of the Col du Tourmalet.

    Ride Across the Pyrenees bike trip

    The view from the hotel room at Saint Savin, looking east towards the Tourmalet. Everything is epic.

    Ride Across the Pyrenees bike trip

    Finally someone, Doug in this case, has the good sense to take his time, look at the view and eat his sandwich at the top of the Col du Tourmalet. Bucolic bliss - that's almost a double entendre.

    Ride Across the Pyrenees bike trip

    Col du Bagargui. If you have ever ridden the east side then you know. Mike now knows.

    Ride Across the Pyrenees bike trip

    Perfect.

    Ride Across the Pyrenees bike trip

    Again, the Col du Bagargui. It has an effect on all those who dare ride up it.

    Ride Across the Pyrenees bike trip

    Lynda all smiles at the top of the Col du Tourmalet ... must not have been working hard enough ... still a lot more left in the tank.

    Ride Across the Pyrenees bike trip

    We rode from down there.

    Ride Across the Pyrenees bike trip

    This Ass just won't leave me alone.

    Ride Across the Pyrenees Bike Challenge

    The Pyrenees trip has begun, that is the riding started on August 28th, and I am finally getting around to posting some photos. Above is the French Basque country, about 30 miles inland from the Atlantic coast and the town of Biarritz.

    Ride Across the Pyrenees Bike Challenge

    For those of you who don't know, the Pyrenees bike trip a loop that will take us from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean and back through the Pyrenees mountains, 12 days of riding that will cover a 1000 miles and 100,000 ft of elevation. It may sound like a lot, but the beauty of the countryside helps to keep everyone motivated.

    Ride Across the Pyrenees Bike Challenge

    Chateaux everywhere, along with a lot of churches. 10th century, 12th century, 14 century, you pick the century. The daunting aspect is trying to imagine living in one of these places back in the day!

    Ride Across the Pyrenees Bike Challenge

    I like this picture because of the mountains silhouetted in the background, in particular the Col du Tourmalet, the highest peak in the Pyrenees.

    Ride Across the Pyrenees Bike Challenge

    Open country, old irregular picket fences, just rolling along.

    Ride Across the Pyrenees Bike Challenge

    I'm going to guess that this Chateau is from the 17th century ... late 17th. You can tell by the tiles on the roof.

    Ride Across the Pyrenees Bike Challenge

    9 am in the morning, the day is just beginning, and we've got 100 miles to ride. Life is hard. Don't be fooled by the lime green wind breakers, these guys can ride, though they may not have a lot of style.

    Ride Across the Pyrenees Bike Challenge

    You would never know that France has a population of 63 million people because the countryside is so wide open.

    Ride Across the Pyrenees Bike Challenge

    Rolling rolling rolling, keep them legs turning ...

    Ride Across the Pyrenees Bike Challenge

    Here's one of those 12th century churches staring you in the face. The trick is not to fall for the religious zeal.

    Ride Across the Pyrenees Bike Challenge

    Just a few miles away from the Mediterranean sea, sun is shining, riders are getting tense, 122 miles today.

    Ride Across the Pyrenees Bike Challenge

    If you come to a place enough times you are bound to experience a variety of weather conditions. This year the Mediterranean coast was being buffeted by high winds. We had the unfortunate experience of riding our bikes into a howling headwind for 90 miles when we left the coast.

    Ride Across the Pyrenees Bike Challenge

    The col du Porte de Pailheres, the first of many cols that we will ride as we traverse the high mountains. As usual one must keep an eye out for the locals.

    Ride Across the Pyrenees Bike Challenge

    This is both a site of great pleasure and pain, and I cannot explain why it is fun to ride up these mountains, busting your ass ... but somehow it is.

    Ride Across the Pyrenees Bike Challenge

    Doug at the summit of the Col de Pailheres.

    Ride Across the Pyrenees Bike Challenge

    Looking down from the top. What you could not have know without being here that it was 45 degrees with a howling wind. Sometimes you win some, and sometimes you lose some.

    Ride Across the Pyrenees Bike Challenge

    The famous Platanes trees that used to line many of the roadways in France, but were systematically cut down because drivers kept crashing into them ... WTF.

    Ride Across the Pyrenees Bike Challenge

    Ultimately society realizes that the roads in the French Pyrenees are first and foremost for bicyclists. Sweet.

    Ride Across the Pyrenees Bike Challenge

    What we have here is only a small portion of the endless climb up the Porte de Bales ... 12 miles in all.

    Ride Across the Pyrenees Bike Challenge

    When you look back from where you have come there is a sense of awe.

    Ride Acrosss the Pyrenees Cycling challenge bike tour

    The sign says "Zone Pastoral," and that means the animals come first and you and I second.

    Ride Across the Pyrenees Bike Challenge

    There are moments that you must stop to appreciate the beauty of the French Pyrenees, even if it means stopping in mid descent and letting your fellow riders leave you.

    Ride Across the Pyrenees Bike Challenge

    Top of the col du Tourmalet ... just as hard as last year, and the year before, and before.

    Ride Acrosss the Pyrenees Cycling challenge bike tour

    Even the French sheep go on strike.

    Ride Acrosss the Pyrenees Cycling challenge bike tour

    Up the Gavarnie. If I were to describe it in one word, BRUTAL.

    Ride Acrosss the Pyrenees Cycling challenge bike tour

    Top of the Gavarnie ... a Unesco World Heritage Site ... EPIC.

    Ride Acrosss the Pyrenees Cycling challenge bike tour

    Trust me, it is way harder than it looks.