The French Pyrénées are a wonderland of exploration and intrigue with many areas often overlooked in search of the more famous cols. Our Undiscovered Pyrénées week is all about heading off the beaten track, taming rugged wilderness and riding in awe at what can so easily be missed. We’ve continually been amazed by what we’ve found when heading into the unknown and now we want to unlock the secrets that we’ve found with you as well. With full support from The Col Collective let us show you another side to the Pyrénées that’ll continue to enrich your soul for years to come.
WHO’S IT FOR?
This week is for those that may have already conquered the more famous cols and are looking to discover new and untapped areas of the Pyrénées. It’s a tough week (over 700km and 13,000m elevation gain) so is not for the faint hearted. A solid level of mountain cycling experience is recommended, with the fitness to ride multiple big days back to back. This week is also perfect for anyone that is training for, or have ambitions of one day taking on a multi-day event such as the Haute Route as the format and level of difficulty will provide excellent experience for such an undertaking. Typically days include 3 climbs, 2,500m of elevation gain and are up to 130km in length. There’s no denying this is going to be a challenging but truly beautiful and rewarding week with The Col Collective.
Due to the popularity of this week we will be hosting two Undiscovered Pyrénées tours in 2019 with a maximum group size of just 8 riders, with 2-3 guides, so that we can really support you in true Col Collective style throughout the week.
24th June - 1st July 2019 (7 nights)
14th - 21st September 2019 (7 nights)
€2,550 per person - based on twin share, includes our exclusive Col Collective mountain essentials kit bag! See ‘what’s included’ for details.
€500 - single supplement. As we have limited rooms in our guest house please contact us in advance to confirm availability.
10% discount for non-riding partners.
5% discount for group bookings of 3 or more.
The Col Collective premium mountain essentials kit bag!
We are currently working on our 2019 Col Collective kit bag which will include the highest quality mountain essentials gear from our premium partners including custom limited edition Col Collective jersey, nutrition, lighting, tools and more. In 2018 the value of this kit bag was over €850!
THE WEEK IN BRIEF > 15 Cols / 720km / 13,000m elevation
Day 1 - Arrival and collection at midday from Toulouse airport, bike build and light spin to loosen the legs and get ready for the week
Day 2 - Col des Bordères, Col du Soulor, Col d’Aubisque and Col de Spandelles > 115km / 2,500m
Day 3 - Col des Tentes, Cirque de Troumouse, Lac des Gloriettes > 125km / 2,500m elevation
Day 4 - Hourquette d’Ancizan and Col d’Aspin > 115km 2,000m elevation
Day 5 - Cauterets and Pont d’Espagne > 80km / 1,200m elevation
Day 6 - Route des Lacs and Col d’Aspin > 120km 2,500m elevation
Day 7 - Tour de Baronnies including Col des Palomiéres and Col du Couret > 115km / 2,000m
Day 8 - All you can eat breakfast (you’ll need it by now), bike packing and transfers back to Toulouse for midday drop off
Learn more about some of the climbs you’ll conquer throughout the week here.
Arriving in Toulouse we’ll collect you and your bike at midday. Snacks and light refreshments will be available on arrival at The Col Collective HQ where we’ll have time to get the bikes built and prepped before a short spin to get the legs turning again after travelling. Today is an easy day to get you ready for the week ahead, and what a week it’s going to be be!
The Cirque du Litor is one of the most picturesque roads in the world, joining the famous Col d’Aubisque and beautiful Col du Soulor along what appears to be no more than a craggy cliff edge. Steeped in Tour de France history, it first featured in the 1910 Tour during an unfathomable 326km stage from Bagnères de Luchon to the Atlantic coast. After riding in awe at the Cirque du Litor we have a short descent before heading off the beaten track and along the tiny Route des Spandelles. Set against Pyrénéan picture postcard views the Col de Spandelles is an absolute hidden gem, 10.3km in length on little more than a single width road all the way up to its 1,378m summit set things up perfectly for what’s to come later in the week.
Today we head south for one of the most incredible and challenging rides you’ll ever do. A starting point for cols such as the Tourmalet and Luz Ardiden, Luz Saint Sauveur is well versed with cyclists on route to the top of the best known climbs. Often it’s what’s in the other direction that sometimes throws up a surprise or two and that’s exactly the case here as we climb towards the Cirque de Gavarnie’s ancient amphitheatre of rock and eternally flowing waterfalls. Heading deeper into the UNESCO world heritage site the rugged landscape feels untouched and almost out of character as to what you’d expect from the Pyrénées, with wildlife free to roam the road with not a care in the world. Higher than the Tourmalet at 2,208m the road to the Col des Tentes was originally built to join France and Spain, however the Spanish never got around to finishing their side (mañana, mañana). This makes it even quieter and allows us to really appreciate nature, the mountains and the Pyrénées in full purity.
As if it couldn’t get any better, we now head to the largest natural amphitheatre in the Pyrénées for the second half of the ride. Hairpin after hairpin climbing to the Cirque de Troumouse (2,100m) is a true wonder to behold with stunning panoramic views and clean mountain air to make you feel alive. On the way back we’ll take a short detour to Lac des Gloriettes (or as I like to say, Lac des Glorious) visiting this high Pyrénéan lake brings this truly memorable ride to a close.
Another one of those unfamiliar faces Hourquette d’Ancizan caught me by surprise with its unbelievable serenity the first time I rode it. Memories of that day always put me in a good place so I wanted to share that same experience with you all. We’ll start the day by rolling out through the Campan valley where we’ll tackle the first 7 km of the Col d’Aspin. An unassuming right hand turn takes us away from the main road and into a world of cycling magnificence. As the road meanders deeper into the wilderness it’s 8km to the 1,564m high summit. Breath deep, the mountain air is so pure it’s invigorating. After a well deserved donkey selfie we’ll momentarily retrace our steps before heading skywards again to the summit of the Aspin and awe inspiring views of the 2,877m high Pic du Midi de Bigorre.
After three big days in the saddle it’s time to taper things back a notch to allow some well deserved recovery as we head towards the ski station spa town of Cauterets and to one of the most prized sites of the Pyrénées National Park, the Lutour and Ceriset waterfalls on route to Pont d’Espagne.
Today the Pyrénées hosts a pure masterclass as we start in Saint Lary Soulan to follow the sensational Route des Lacs, another rugged untouched diamond in the heart of the Néouvielle massif. With over 70 lakes, cascading waterfalls and an abundance of flora and fauna the climb up to Lac de Cap de Long (2,160m) is nothing short of a revelation as the aroma of mountain pine fills the air. With no kilometre markings to track our progress we have to rely on the natural landmarks, none so great as the Lacet des Écureuils (squirrels hairpin) with 6.3km to go, followed by the Lacet des Myrtilles and the ancient bends of the Lacet des Edelweiss. It’s here where your heart really starts to pound as the scenery sings and Cap de Long’s huge 100m dam comes into view, making it the highest reservoir in the Pyrénées.
Rock strewn landscapes and mountain wilderness continue as we explore the Lac d’ Aubert and Aumar, further unlocking the full mystique of the Route des Lacs. A long descent takes us back to Saint Lary Soulan where we’ll enjoy a moment to recover before tackling 12 kilometres of Pyrenean beauty with the Col d Aspin, this time from Arreau. No doubt this will be a challenging day out but one that we’re confident will enrich your soul and instil the simple feeling of freedom and exploration within.
Now there’s a fair chance you may not have heard of any of these climbs today (cunning as a fox). Once again that’s the beauty of this week, exploring the unknown on some of my favourite roads in the whole of the Pyrénées with beautiful views of the foothills and higher peaks. Winding ourselves deep into the Baronnies these are the local’s roads and they know a thing or two about sniffing out the good stuff. Barely wide enough for a car at best the Baronnies continually undulate dipping in and out of the tree line showing glimpses of mountain beauty as they do. Although the climbs may be lower in elevation this will still prove to be a challenging day in the saddle with little flat, plenty of climbing and roads that we’re sure will throw up an abundance of smiles and surprises along the way.
What a week! All that remains now is a huge breakfast, a little bike packing and shuttle back to Toulouse for a midday drop off.
This is a general itinerary to give you a good idea of what to expect. We may make some adjustments if we think we can further improve the week or if we need to dodge Mother Nature at any time. There’ll be options throughout the week to trim the days down depending on how you’re feeling so rest assured we’re here to look after you.
Located in the heart of the Hautes Pyrénées with views towards the 2,877m Pic du Midi de Bigorre, The Col Collective HQ is a perfect base for cyclists looking to tackle the most prestigious Hors Catégorie climbs, gentle rolling roads or even flatter farmlands that give this area so much charm and character.
We have 5 beautifully appointed en-suite guest bedrooms which can hold a total of 12 people. All of our rooms are named after local peaks or cols and each bring their own unique feel of the Hautes Pyrénées to life.
4 rooms are located in the Grange and 1 room is located in the Maison de Maître. All are warmly appointed and allow for peaceful relaxation and recovery after a great day of cycling. Each room is private and spacious and offers flexible accommodation with the choice of either two single beds or one super king size bed. Complimentary services available in each room include:
Après velo we welcome you to enjoy our heated pool, also known as ’the recovery zone’, cultivate your tan lines in our generously sized courtyard or take a spin into town for a coffee and culture.
Please complete the below booking request form so that we can start working with you to confirm your Col Collective cycling tour. We’ll give you a call or send you an email with more details, also prior to booking we can answer any questions that you may have. Once you’re happy and have confirmed the booking we ask for 30% of the full price of the tour at this time, with the remaining balance paid in full 12 weeks before the tour. Changes and cancellations are detailed in our terms and conditions.
Thank you for your interest. We look forward to welcoming you to our mountains!
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Now in our third season, we're proud to bring you all the info on our new 2019 cycling tours. Whatever your level of cycling we'd be proud to share the road with you and help you become a better rider.
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