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pyrenees advice

Discussion in 'Touring and Adventure Cycling' started by Dougster, 10 Feb 2008.

  1. Dougster

    Dougster New Member

    I am planning a route across the South of France this summer, from the west coast to Carcassonne. I am tempted to venture down towards the Pyrenees and tackle the Col de Porte d'Aspet. I will be fully loaded with camping gear. Am I crazy or is this possible for a reasonably fit 55 year old? Has anyone done this col?
     
  2. bof

    bof Senior member. Oi! Less of the senior please

    Location:
    The world
    I have done it, but not burdened down with stuff. It is pretty steep on the west side (15% for a long way). To be honest I think it is one of the less scenic passes. (Col D'Aspin similar altitude, easier ride, very scenic).
     
  3. rich p

    rich p ridiculous old lush

    Location:
    Brighton
    Of course it's possible I've done the Stelvio fully loaded. The worst that can happen is that you go very slowly, you have rests or you push the worst bits, depending on your fitness and determination. Go for it!!!

    If you're coming back down the same way though I think I'd find somewhere friendly (bar or hotel?) to leave my bags.
     
  4. Dougster

    Dougster New Member

    Thanks for the advice.
     
  5. John Ponting

    John Ponting Über Member

    Location:
    Herts
    I was in the Pyrennees in 2006 (admittedly in an MG). One evening we shared a drink with 2 couples in their 50s who were doing the full mountain range from west to east. They weren't camping but were carrying front/rear panniers on all 4 bikes.

    Spookily, they lived less than 12 miles away from my home and knew many of the same cyclists that I had known over the years.
     
  6. Ergle

    Ergle Über Member

    I did a similar trip last September. Bike Bus to Bayonne, then to Narbonne to pick up the BB home. 700km in 10 days - this included 2 rest days.
    The first couple of days were climbing into the Pyrenees, then over the col d'Aubisque before heading down towards Lourdes, then across country to meet the Canal du Midi for the remainder of the trip. All loaded with camping gear.
    I am 51, and although I have a reasonable level of fitness, I didn't train for the trip. I knew I'd be tired after the lumpy bits so planned for the second half of the journey to be flatter.
    In answer to your specific questions:
    This is definitely possible and you are not crazy. The Pyrenees are so beautiful, and the the views from the higher ground so extensive that you would be crazy not to venture into the hills - advice of previous poster about pacing etc is good.
    I did a write up with pictures - it's in three quite big files. I could post it on this forum if I knew how to do it!

    Ergle
     
  7. Cathryn

    Cathryn California Correspondant

    On a slight tangent, do you remember which stretches of the canal du midi are cycle-able? I've heard very mixed reviews of the surfaces!
     
  8. TwoTired

    TwoTired Active Member

    When I did the Pyrenees W-E, I found Luchon-St Girons to be the hardest of all, due to relative steepness of the climbs; this includes the Portet d'Aspet! But by then I'd already done the major climbs and they may have clouded my judgment.

    Each climb is quite short and I managed the section in one day. So expect to walk a part of each climb - with a load on, you'll find the descents more alarming as these roads are quite narrow and wriggly.
     
  9. Ergle

    Ergle Über Member

    I joined the Canal du Midi about 20km W of Toulouse - from there to Carcassone the paths were good. West of Carcassonne not so comfortable, tree roots and ruts made it very bumpy. So much so that my glasses bounced out of my bar-bag, never to be seen again!

    About 40 km from Narbonne I left the canal and took the road to Narbonne, a still tail wind blew me along at 40kph - sometimes there are benefits to touring on a mountain bike....

    BTW - the canal is stunning, but after a while it does become a bit samey, you don't see very much beyond the plane trees which border it.
     
  10. Dougster

    Dougster New Member

    I am caught in two minds over my summer tour. It will be my first, so I would like have a clear goal, like cycling from the Atlantic to the Med. However, by all accounts the Pyrenees seem well worth a detour. Due to the timetabling of the bike-express, I won't be able to do a coast to coast and go into the mountains. Decisions, decisions....
     
  11. Tony

    Tony New Member

    Location:
    Surrey
    I usually use the road from Carcassonne through Puicheric and Homps, rather than the towpath. You can split off from Homps for Narbonne or carry on to the coast past Beziers.