France From Inside Cycling and Wine Tours France

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

Join email list

In the news

Bookmark and Share

Conquer the Pyrenees

Chateau de Pitray
Chateau de Pitray

  • Bookmark and Share
  • 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
    Pyrenees group 2014

    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

    Below in chronological order photos form the Pyrenees 2014 trip. Once again a great trip with an awesome group of people. I'm ready to do it again right now! This is always a highlight of my year. I hope these photos bring back good memories.

    Pyrenees 2014

    Thanks to Roger there are some wonderful photos from his GoPro helmet camera. Here we are minutes before starting our journey on day 1, right outside the Hotel du Bon Coin in Biarritz.

    Pyrenees 2014

    Day 1 is all about getting your "feet wet" with an introduction to cycling in the French Pyrenees. The Basque country is a great way to begin.

    Pyrenees 2014

    Joyce and I did not get to see the sink hole as the vehicle traffic was diverted. The deviation route took us well away from the prescribed ride.

    Pyrenees 2014

    You all know Marcel now. Great that he flushed us out and was able to find us.

    Pyrenees-2014

    Remember he's 84 years old, and that in itself is impressive considering he is still riding a bike.

    Pyrenees 2014

    I miss the consistently quality paved roads in France.

    Pyrenees-2014

    France From Inside pictures 2014 Pyrenees and home

    One of the highlights of my stay in France was to finally visit and bike with Marcel Queheille in the Basque country. Normally I see Marcel every year at the Criterium de Castillon bike race, and that is how I met him several years ago. Here we are pictured at his home in his workshop, along with a picture of him in his late 20s when he was a professional cyclist and raced in the Tour de France. He is 84 years old, though you would never believe it the way he still rides his bike and clowns around. I'm actually in disbelief to think that he pedaled over one of the hardest passes in the Pyrenees with my cycling group.

    France From Inside pictures 2014 Pyrenees and home

    In the 1961 TDF he was honored as the most combative rider of the Tour and first over the Tourmalet that year.

    France From Inside pictures 2014 Pyrenees and home

    The wall of a building in the town of Arette that commemorates riders from the Pyrenees region.

    France From Inside pictures 2014 Pyrenees and home

    When Jeff and I drove to visit him at his house Marcel met us by bike at the entrance to town to show us the way. He is quite the character and full of life. I thought we might visit for an hour, but we stayed for 3 hours, sitting at the kitchen table with his wife and drinking wine and eating his favourite basque cakes. He told us all about his cycling career and recounted the TDF stage win in 1957 - Bordeaux to Bayonne, 220 km. He said he remembers it clearly, and described it in detail like he had won it yesterday.

    Pyrenees-2014

    "The Orthodontist" applying her technical skills to her bike, "now relax, this won't hurt but a little." I'm glad the bike got delivered to the hotel. A bullet dodged.

    Pyrenees 2014

    Have any of you looked at the Tour de France Route for 2015? The col du Soudet and Pierre Saint Martin are on the list. The Hotel de l'Ours of Arette will be packed next year on June 15.

    Pyrenees 2014

    France From Inside pictures 2014 Pyrenees and home

    Something I look forward to every year, and 8 years in a row now, my two week trip across the Pyrenees, Atlantic to the Mediterranean and back. Love these stats: 1000 miles, 100'000 ft, 12 days of riding. Oh, and a shout out of thanks to Bev for helping design the new jersey.

    Pyrenees-2014

    Day 2. I was a little anxious because we started in the rain, but thankfully it only lasted half the day and we did not get rained on again for the remainder of the trip.

    Pyrenees-2014

    ... and it wasn't cold either. Karl admitted to thinking he was in over his head after day 1. I wonder what he was thinking at this stage with the rain?

    France From Inside Pyrenees 2014

    ... but it did rain hard at times, and that made drafting impossible.

    Pyrenees-2014

    Pyrenees 2014

    And here we are later in the day, dried off and no longer suffering. But the Stephanie is not taking any chances.

    Pyrenees 2014

    The back roads of France are awesome.

    Pyrenees 2014

    Pyrenees 2014

    Day 3.

    Pyrenees 2014

    Out of all the vans I've rented over the years, this one was the most practical because of the large enclosed back end, plenty of standing room, clothes lining stringing, and abuse proof with the wood paneling.

    Pyrenees 2014

    We covered a lot of ground in 12 days.

    Pyrenees 2014

    This guy lived in the house next to where Jeff had pulled the van over. It turns out that he use to cycle and he had met me on the Porte de Pailheres in 2013. Now that is a coincidence. The little girl is his grand daughter.

    Pyrenees 2014

    After some van food and drink off we go.

    Pyrenees 2014

    Post ride fun in the town of Mirepoix.

    Pyrenees 2014

    Day 4.

    France From Inside Pyrenees 2014

    There are times when I'm out riding that I deliver good service to my clients. Normally I like to pick up the pace and break up the pace-lines, but this is proof that I can lend a helping hand. Stephanie and I work together to catch up to the group.

    Pyrenees 2014

    Look over there!

    Pyrenees 2014

    And there!

    France From Inside Pyrenees 2014

    Locals.

    Pyrenees 2014

    About 25 miles to go to reach the Mediterranean Coast and the town of Collioure.

    This was at the top of the last climb on our way to Collioure.

    Pyrenees 2014

    I like how the topography, vegetation and climate changes from west coast to east coast. The different regions in the Pyrenees are quite varied, a natural quality that makes the trip a lot of fun.

    Pyrenees 2014

    Roger on vacation! Enjoying a beer and van food ... Pelforth Brune beer, good stuff ... ice cold after 130 mile day. Personally I really enjoy the first 4 stages.

    Pyrenees 2014

    Joe and Joe and I were out running bike repair errands while the rest of you were rocking Collioure.

    Pyrenees 2014

    I hate to admit it but I've been to Collioure 8 times and never once visited the forte. Next year for sure. Jeff at the top of the forte, getting ready to catch something?!

    France From Inside Pyrenees 2014

    Great picture from inside the walls of the forte.

    France From Inside Pyrenees 2014

    Collioure is also a training base for French Special Forces, and they can be seen intertwined amongst the tourists. I wouldn't recommend heckling them.

    There are two small inlets/bays on either side of this old fort. The atmosphere on our way to dinner.

    Pyrenees 2014

    Quite a few beers consumed on this trip!

    Day 5, heading back west and into the big mountains.

    Pyrenees 2014

    Can't help but smile with the good weather and epic cycling. Funny to think that for most people, riding your bike across the Pyrenees is not a first choice for a vacation.

    France From Inside Pyrenees 2014

    It seems today's ride didn't leave everyone so worn out that they couldn't find the time and energy to have a little fun out on the town of Quillan while waiting for dinner.

    France From Inside Pyrenees 2014

    It's France, of course there are beautiful stylish women.

    Pyrenees 2014

    A True Goinfre will always have food in hand. Respect!

    Pyrenees 2014

    Day 6. The Porte de Pailheres is the first real Col of the trip; classified H'ors de Categorie. We got good, I've been up here in cold, foggy, windy conditions.

    Pyrenees 2014

    Roger is beginning the first of many sweet descents in the high mountains. Definitely not in Kansas anymore ... I mean Toronto.

    France From Inside Pyrenees 2014

    Just starting in on the west side descent of the Porte de Pailheres mountain pass, zipping up the vest. Some people are willing to descend at break neck speeds, easy to do on 10 to 9 percent grades.

    Top of the Porte de Pailheres.

    Pyrenees 2014

    Day 7. Top of the Col de Lers. I like this climb even though I drove on this day. Last year we had similar weather.

    France From Inside pictures 2014 Pyrenees and home

    Top of the Col d'Agnes. For sure an iconic picture that says it all ... the way to roll ... hard riding without the ego. I can't explain why it is fun to work hard and ride up these hills, but it is.

    Pyrenees 2014

    Richard holds off Karl to the top. A little friendly competition.

    Pyrenees 2014

    Col d'Agnes.

    The beginning of the descent off the Col d'Agnes, west side.

    View of the mountain ridge from part way down the Col d'Agnes.

    Pyrenees 2014

    Col de la Core.

    Just a friendly ride.

    May have spoken to soon. I didn't see Joe and Jeff summit the top as I back tracked to check on everyone since we had a brief moment of rain. I wanted to make sure you all had rain gear if you needed it.

    Pyrenees 2014

    4 climbs under the belt for the day. Roger tops the summit of Col de la Core. A happy man.

    Pyrenees 2014

    Pyrenees 2014

    View from the summit Col de la Core.

    Pyrenees 2014

    The rain clouds and wind made it a little chilly.

    Pyrenees 2014

    Day 8, the big 5 pass day. This is the little backroad zig zag part immediately after we left the hotel.

    France From Inside Pyrenees 2014

    The infamous Pyrenees sheep guard dog. They are loveable beasts that can be plenty ferocious when need be to protect against sheep predators, such as wolves.

    Pyrenees 2014

    The nasty Porte de Bales col, climb number 3 of the day. This climb is relentless.

    Pyrenees 2014

    Bob, like the rest of us, was damn happy to finish the Porte de Bales, and the van with supplies was a god send up here.

    Pyrenees 2014

    Riding down the backside of the Bales.

    Pyrenees 2014

    Cresting the Col de Peyresourde. Crepe time!

    France From Inside Pyrenees 2014

    Like I said I can't explain why riding a bike up hills all day is fun, and it sure doesn't seem to be the case by the look on my face. This is at the top of the Col du Peyresourde, the 4th of 5 cols for the day, and the weather was hot and humid. The saving grace at the top of the Peyresourde is a charming restaurant that serves crepes. The total for the day is 98 miles and 14'500 feet of climbing, and 6 crepes.

    France From Inside Pyrenees 2014

    Saved by the bell, crepes and coffee to fuel the legs and mind for another climb. Adapt and overcome!

    Pyrenees 2014

    Day 9, leaving Saint Lary Soulon. Check out the photo bomb!

    Pyrenees 2014

    I think the Col d'Aspin is the most picturesque climb of the entire tour, especially on a day like today.

    Pyrenees 2014

    See what I mean, with the view of the valley and mountains.

    Col d'Aspin.

    France From Inside Pyrenees 2014

    Of all the animals in the Pyrenees the goats are the mean ones, and they stink to high heaven.

    France From Inside pictures 2014 Pyrenees and home

    With all the farm animals grazing in the mountains you never stop to think twice about how casually they roam around on the steep mountain sides. This cow is perched at the edge of a 10 foot drop!

    France From Inside pictures 2014 Pyrenees and home

    Glad we caught it on a beautiful sunny day.

    Pyrenees 2014

    Epic.

    France From Inside Pyrenees 2014

    When I am not riding my bike in the Pyrenees I am driving the van. The uniform for the van: T-shirt, jeans, and flip-flops. The view from the Col d'Aspin into the valley of Saint Lary.

    Locals at the top of Col d'Aspin

    France From Inside pictures 2014 Pyrenees and home

    Immediately after the Col d'Aspin we climb up the Col du Tourmalet, the most well known mountain pass in the Pyrenees, probably due to the fact that it has been included the most often in the Tour de France. It is also the highest of all the passes. Here it is seen from the Aspin looking west.

    Pyrenees 2014

    What a difference a year makes. The first time Joe came on the trip and rode the Tourmalet he was wasted at the top. This year he managed his efforts better and the smile tells a different tale.

    Pyrenees 2014

    Another great shot of the Squirrel in action. I think by now he's got his confidence up. He knows the day's routine and what to expect. Piece of cake the Tourmalet!

    France From Inside pictures 2014 Pyrenees and home

    I think it is great that you can not see the bottom of the valley, because it is 18 km down the hill!

    Pyrenees 2014

    Good job Karl!

    This video gives a little more depth to the view from the top of the Tourmalet.

    France From Inside Pyrenees 2014

    Here is what it looked like on race day in TDF sometime in the 1960s.

    Pyrenees 2014

    Ah, the Gavarnie, introduced into this tour in 2012 and presented as an easy "little out and back!" I got an earful for that at dinner in 2012. Adapt and overcome is all I can say. And I rode it in 2012.

    Gavarnie.

    Pyrenees 2014

    So much more to go before the top.

    Pyrenees 2014

    Gavarnie.

    France From Inside Pyrenees 2014

    Great to see Stephanie is still smiling. She's on the 3rd climb of the day, the Aspin and the Tourmalet the 2 previous. At the top, another 11 km to go, she would weep ... thankfully tears of joy ... another 90 mile day and 12'000 ft of climbing. But that is what the Pyrenees and this adventure are all about.

    Pyrenees 2014

    Gavarnie.

    Pyrenees 2014

    The top of the Gavarnie.

    Top of the Gavarnie.

    Pyrenees 2014

    Roger wanted to check out the hotel before climbing the Gavarnie, so he got some bonus miles in. It rained briefly on the Gavarnie and thankfully it did not last.

    I'm not making this up. This is the way it is.

    Pyrenees 2014

    Day 10, top of the Col de Soulor. Jeff and friend. Several years ago it was a donkey instead of a Pyrenees dog.

    Pyrenees 2014

    This dog must be the Gatekeeper. Col du Soulor.

    Pyrenees 2014

    The traverse between the Soulor and the Col d'Aubisque. My first time up here was in 2000.

    Pyrenees 2014

    The summit of the Col d'Aubisque.

    The return leg of the trip is in the high mountains, 8 stages where we traverse the Pyrenees back to the Atlantic, over 24 cols. This is at the top of the Col d'Aubisque, another iconic "hors de categorie" pass often part of the TDF.

    Pyrenees 2014

    Good times had by all.

    Pyrenees 2014

    About two thirds of the way down the Col d'Aubisque is the town of Bonne Eaux.

    Pyrenees 2014

    The plateau two thirds of the way up the Col du Marie Blanc. Great lunch spot!

    Pyrenees 2014

    Just before the last climb before we get back to the town of Arette.

    Pyrenees 2014

    Day 11, Col du Soudet and St. Pierre. The 2015 TDF will come up this.

    Col du Soudet.

    Col du Soudet.

    France From Inside Pyrenees 2014

    I actually am not sure if this picture is in the right chronological order. It looks like it is in the Basque Pyrenees, and it may be the last day as opposed to day 11.

    Even when you are in a rush there are obstacles in life that tell you to slow down. One of many pleasurable moments in the Pyrenees.

    Pyrenees 2014

    Col du Bagargui. You guys all dropped Marcel. Remember, he met us in the town of Larreau, and he was riding up this mother of a climb with Joyce and she dropped him ruthlessly. I wasn't there but I'm assuming that is how it went. Anyhow, when you had all continued on after lunch and I was packing up, Marcel summitted.

    Pyrenees 2014

    View from the top of the Col d'Iraty - actually it has another name but I can't remember it - and to follow is an epic 18 km descent.

    This the final climb on day 11 that some of you missed. Joe D, Joyce and Joe R, did it.

    A road off the beaten path, spectacular and beautiful but watch out, if a car comes the other way the space is tight. Don't let the white line in the middle fool you. This road is not much wider than a bike path.

    Pyrenees 2014

    Pyrenees 2014

    This is the extra add on mileage you guys added on your own at the end of stage 11.

    France From Inside Pyrenees 2014

    The last day, stage 12. You can never predict when or where a farmer will guide his livestock onto the road. This year it happened a lot in the Basque country. This is near a town called "Aldudes," that's right Aldudes.

    Pyrenees 2014

    You have to agree we did not have to battle much traffic.

    Pyrenees 2014

    Coming down one of the last descents. Sigh, it is almost over. Too much fun to have it all come to an end. This was really a great trip. Thank you all for coming.

    France From Inside Pyrenees 2014

    Pictures can never do justice to the real thing, but this photo captures some of the essence of what it is like riding in the Pyrenees, at least the view of the road and the long grind up ahead. Just imagine there were 7 miles of climbing before reaching this point. Jeff and I did some exploring a week before the trip began.

    France From Inside Pyrenees 2014

    The Col d'Iraty, a thin ridge line, where one side is France and the other side is Spain. Here I am looking over the French territory having come up the Spanish side. A special place without a doubt.

    The same view in action.