Pyrénées Cycl’n’Trip 2020
This time last week we were having a blast in the Pyrénées, stretching our legs in the most extreme way; climbing mountains on our Bromptons.
It was a lucky chance that I stumbled upon an advert on Facebook for the type of organised event that France does so well, Pyrénées Cycl’n’Trip 2020.
This in an annual five-day event that allows amateur cyclists to experience riding up the best cols (mountain pass climbs) that the Pyrénées has to offer on partially closed roads. Having enjoyed a traffic-free climb up Mont Ventoux earlier this year (thanks to road works) this seemed too good an opportunity to ignore, even if I’m still a little cautious about my mountain climbing abilities.
On each of the days, from 9h to 12h, up to three different cols are closed to motor vehicles, but open for cyclists. The choice of cols each day includes a biggie like Hautacam (14.5km closed road at an average gradient of 7.4%), and a not so biggie, like Couraduque (7km closed road at an average gradient of 5.7%). You don’t have to book, or even put your name down in advance, just turn up at the start of the climb, at any time during the morning road closure. You are free to do as many or as few climbs as you choose, at your own pace, and although you can book a full accommodation or luggage transfer package, there is no obligation to do so.
At the top of each col was a feed zone where cake, fruit, water and electrolyte drinks powder were on offer, along with a souvenir (a handy neck tube) and a stamp for your col-collector passport. The best bit; all of this was offered by the Hautes Pyrénées tourist board for FREE.
We joined in three closed road climbs in two days (Col de Couraduque 1367m, Col du Soulor 1471m and Col d’Aubisque 1709m) and then went on to do another two (Col des Bordères 1161m and Col du Tourmalet 2115m) on our own before heading across the mountains to the Pays Basque.
Everyone is welcome and we saw couples, clubs, groups of friends, families, electric bikes, tandems, road bikes (from all price brackets) and hybrid bikes. The only Bromptons we saw, however, were ours. Everyone we met, from other cyclists, to the Gendarmes (joining in on their electric bikes), to the volunteers at the bottom and top of the closed roads, were friendly and encouraging. I’m so glad I saw the advert and that we decided to act upon it. This year we are all about seizing the moment and an extra, unplanned week away was magic.
As an organised event, with such great flexibility, and all for free, I give it 5 stars and I’d certainly recommend next year’s event to anyone wanting to try out the Pyrénean Tour de France greats in a safe and friendly way.