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 the hardest week we do in terms of ride length and elevation gain (835km and 14,000m elevation) 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. With approximately 14,000m elevation gain across the week there’s no denying this is going to be a tough but truly rewarding week with The Col Collective.
We’ll host just one Undiscovered Pyrénées week this season with have a maximum group size of 10 riders to ensure so that we can offer the highest level of support throughout the week.
29th July - 5th August 2017 (7 nights)
€2,350 per person* - includes our exclusive Col Collective mountain essentials kit bag worth €875! See ‘what’s included’ for details.
*5% discount for group bookings of 3 or more or triple share.
The Col Collective premium mountain essentials kit bag worth €875!
We are very proud to be able to offer a truly exceptional package from our partners to help you in every area of your cycling. This kit includes:
* The Col Collective Limited Edition
PLUS! Access to preferential Col Collective partner pricing**
** Limitations may apply and can be confirmed prior to booking.
THE WEEK IN BRIEF > 15 Cols / 815km / 14,000m 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 - Aubisque, Soulor, Spandelles > 115km / 2,500m elevation
Day 3 - Col des Tentes, Cirque de Troumouse, Lac des Gloriettes > 125km / 2,500m elevation
Day 4 - Route des Lacs and Aspin > 130km 2,400m elevation
Day 5 - Hautacam, Couraduque, Cauterets options > 50-80km / 1,200m elevation
Day 6 - Pyrénées Atlantique Basque adventure > 130km / 2,900m elevation or La Pierre St Martin and Marie Blanque > 130km / 2,600m elevation
Day 7 - Col de la Croix Blanche, Baronnies, Beyrede, Col de Lingous > 125km / 2,500m elevation
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 300km 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 des 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.
After yesterday’s introduction to the lakes, 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 the Col d’Aspin (1,489m) 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 within.
With three big days in the saddle it’s time to taper things back a notch to allow some well deserved recovery. We’ve got plenty of options on offer locally including the climbs of Hautacam, Couraduque and Cauterets amongst friends ranging from 50km to 80km. As this week can also be used in preparation for a multi-stage event like the Haute Route, if you want to make this day a time-trial day (you little devil) then that’s also an option.
We’ve kept day 6 open with a couple of awesome options depending on what appeals most to the group during the week. Heading to the Pyrénées-Atlantiques for a Basque Country adventure on roads and climbs that show yet another character to the Pyrénées or we can tackle the relatively new to the Tour de France (and as such unknown) Col de la Pierre Saint Martin (1,766m) followed by the classic Col de Marie Blanque (1,035m). Either way it’s going to be another day to remember, I mean 130km and over 2,500m of elevation gain can be nothing else right?
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. One of my all time favourite local climbs, the Col de la Croix Blanche (the pass of the white cross) presents beautiful views of the foothills and higher peaks. From here we wind 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 and a half at best the Baronnies continually undulate dipping in and out of the tree line showing glimpses of mountain beauty as they do. Next door to the Aspin, the road over the Col de Beyrède is so small even Google haven’t found it yet and that’s saying something! 11km at 7.1% climbs its way up to 1,417m elevation. Careful on the downhill we have one final ascent of the week to go, as we return home via the Col de Lingous (575m).
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 make days longer or shorter 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 Pic du Midi and Montaigu, The Col Collective HQ is a perfect base for cyclists looking to tackle the most prestigious Hors Catégorie climbs, gentler 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 10 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 guests 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.
* For groups larger than this, please contact us as we may be able to accommodate.
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 8 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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