Across the Pyrenees road trip

Most of the people have a wish list or things that they would like to do, at least, once during their life. From a cycling perspective, we also have our to-do list, but, in this case, it’s about challenges, races or bike trips that you want to achieve.

In my case, I had this in my mind from time ago. The idea to do a nice bike trip, something epic or challenging for me, a long distance route with high mountains and amazing landscapes.

After thinking a bit about that, finally, this was my first serious challenge alone with my bicycle: ride across the Pyrenees from coast to coast.

DAY 1. From Platja d’Aro to Bellver de la Cerdanya (203km / 3.319m+)
https://www.strava.com/activities/1765364160

The first day of a trip as this, it’s not easy. From one side you are excited because you are going to start a new adventure and you have a lot of new places to discover but, from another, you know that the stages will be really hard and the challenge is not easy to reach.

You have to balance your mind, believe always in you and be convinced every moment that you are able to complete it.

I started at 7:00 am with the first light of the sun. It knew that the day would be long because I had to go from the coast of Girona to the Catalan Pyrenees. More than 200 km were waiting for me.

I did a pit stop at Campdevànol to eat a bit of fresh fruit and drink a soda before start the climbing to Coll de la Creueta, a 30 km uphill from there.

That road to Coll de la Creueta is amazing and really beautiful. It allows you to feel the essence of a high mountain, pure nature and silence.

One of the best things about travel alone is that you can decide when and where you can make a stop, like the one that I did after the fast downhill in a street market to eat handmade pizza.

DAY 2. From Bellver de la Cerdanya to Luzenac (130km / 2.610m+)
https://www.strava.com/activities/1767126378

This was the real start of the trip, at least, for my mind because most of the route that I did the day before I already did it months ago. So, this was my second first day of the route where I would meet unknown roads for me.

I crossed the France border and from that moment until the end of the trip I would be riding around French Pyrenees.

I crossed the France border and from that moment until the end of the trip I would be riding around French Pyrenees.

I had some climbs during the day but the most serious was Col de Pailheres with 12km, around 1000m of elevation gain, and amazing views during the last kilometers.

Finally, I arrived at a small village called Luzenac where I stayed my first night in France.

DAY 3. From Luzenac to Castillon-en-Courserans (126km / 3.092m+)
https://www.strava.com/activities/1769383755

Every day you can learn something new. And, on my third day, I learned that if you study the route the day before your mind is more ready to achieve the daily aim and, probably, you will suffer psychically less.

That day was special for climbers. Five mountain passes were waiting for me.

How to organize the luggage is another key point to have a better trip, especially for the saddle bag that you should introduce all the stuff, starting with the heavier things and finishing with the lighter ones. This will be helpful to reduce the movement when you are riding.

I crossed a lot of mountains but I have a good remember of Col de Lers, Col d’Agnes, and that beautiful lake.

After 126 km, 3.100 m of elevation gain and almost 7 hours and a half of riding, I arrived at Castillon-en-Courserans doing the last kilometers surrounded by a thin rain.

DAY 4. From Castillon-en-Courserans to Saint-Lary-Soulan (112km / 3.290m+)
https://www.strava.com/activities/1771595944

After an amazing breakfast at La Maison de Natasha that was my home for a night, I started a new day.

My next destination would be the core of Le Tour de France, Saint-Lary-Soulan.

The first signs of Le Tour de France started to appear in the road. Only a few weeks since the pro cyclists were here. You can still feel the pain and the emotion of that incredible race.

After a climb of 14 km to Col de Peyresourde from Bagnères-de-Luchon, I arrived at the top and the best reward was this Crêperie. You can become crazy, 0,5 euro each crêpe. OMG.

The last climb before arriving at Saint-Lary-Soulan was done and I got a happy face. The fourth day was almost finished and my feelings and my legs were good.

DAY 5. Saint-Lary-Soulan Loop – Rest day (54km / 1.401m+)
https://www.strava.com/activities/1773589764

I planned a rest day in the middle of the trip. In the beginning, I thought that it could be nice to have a no bike day, walk a bit and visit some village but, once I arrived at Phillippe’s house where I was staying for two nights, I talked to him and he recommended to me a lot of amazing places really close to his house. After this, I decided to make a short loop in the morning (without luggage) and spend the evening walking thru the town.

I visited Hourquette d’Ancizan and Col d’Aspin, a short ride of 53 km with awesome views and magic places.

DAY 6. From Saint-Lary-Soulan to Lourdes (100km / 2.242m+)
https://www.strava.com/activities/1775980023

The sixth day was a special one. That was time to go for the most famous mountain pass, it was time for Tourmalet.

I started the day climbing Col d’Aspin from Arreau, the opposite of the day before. A long and hard climb till the top but my mind was focused on the big brother.

Tourmalet from Sainte-Marie-de-Campan is an 18 km uphill. I heard a lot of opinions about that mountain but, I’m honest, I liked more than I expected. The last kilometers thru the valley and the ski station are really beautiful.

That was the point where I found more cyclist of all my trip. The top was crazy, a lot of people fighting for a picture as a reward for achieving that huge mountain.

But the real reward is the views that you can have from there on both sides.

After Tourmalet, I had a fast downhill and a ride of 30km to Lourdes, my next stop.

Of all the places where I stayed during my trip, I really don’t recommend to visit Lourdes. That was a mistake from my side. If you can choose, try another village.

DAY 7. From Lourdes to Montory (128km / 2.825m+)
https://www.strava.com/activities/1778273141

It rained during the night and I woke up with wet streets and a threatening sky but I was on fire. Two only rides were remaining. My mind was really motivated and I could almost feel the smell of the Cantabrian sea.

In spite of the bad weather, I enjoyed a lot riding thru Col du Soulor, Cirque du Litor and Col d’Aubisque, probably one the most beautiful roads that I made during the whole trip.

Almost at the top of Col d’Aubisque, it started to rain again but, this time, it would be with me until the end of the day.

Finally, after a 70 km under the rain, I arrived at Montory, my last stop before reach my goal.

I was completely wet, but after taking a hot shower and have a good dinner, I was ready to deal with the last day.

DAY 8. From Montory to Hendaya (149km / 3.036m+)
https://www.strava.com/activities/1780594778

06:00 am and I opened my eyes with a big smile on my face and with a unique thought on my mind: it’s the last day of the trip.

The harder mountain pass of the trip was waiting for me, just a few kilometers from Montory but, the real opponent of the day would be my mind.

It’s called Col de Bagargui, its about 9 km long and huge ramps of 12-14% during some kilometers. Pure pain and effort.

I thought: “Keep calm and keep pedaling”.

After overcome that giant, I knew that I was really close.

The villages were different. I was on the Basque Country (French side).

And finally, I completed the last 150 km of my trip. I crossed the Pyrenees from coast to coast.

Maybe it doesn’t sound like the most epic trip of the world but for me, as my first bike trip alone, and after one thousand km and almost 22.000m+ of elevation gain, I was really happy to got it.

Say special thanks to my wife and my friend Brazo de Hierro to be waiting for me at Hendaya beach. It was really exciting to see them there and they helped me to go back home (by car, obviously).