In May 2015 I biked the Spanish side of the Pyrenees, from Bilbao to Barcelona. And in May 2022 I did a few days biking on the western parts the French side of this mountain range. So, after biking from Kassel to Perpignan I was in October 2022 in good shape and perfect position to take on the french Pyrenees from east.
I knew from before that there was a Route des Cols that passes over a lot of the high passes in the Pyrenees, so I found various lists of passes on the net and mapped them out, then tried to stitch them together. On average I ended up doing about three each day. It was slightly off season, so sometimes finding lodging was difficult, and in one case I was left to the good grace of an English couple running a gite (simple lodging) to cook me some pasta for dinner.
When I started biking the Trans Pyrenees race had already started, a self supported bike race around all of the Pyrenees. A certain Robert Mueller had already finished after 4 days and 6 hours. Twice did I bump into participants with somewhat similar bike bags as me. One guy from Holland had missed the deadline at a pass and was somewhat depressed contemplating his options, while another guy from Germany was hellbent to finish his ride, after the race had officially finished, just to prove to himself that he could do it.
The weather was gorgeous, and the views just got better and better the further west I got. BILDER The toughest day started with 17 km uphill to Col du Tourmalet, the most famous pass in the Pyrenees, having been part of the Tour de France 88 times. The last part of the climb is 10 km of biking at between 8 and 9%. Normally this would be a torturing hard climb for me, but this time I was in great shape and did it in one go, no zigzagging up the road, just short stops to take photographs. Unfortunately the pass is not just the most famous and highest in the Pyrenees at over 2000 meters, but also the ugliest as it is a very exploited skiing resort. You can't point your camera in any direction without also getting a ski lift or concrete hotel complex on the photo. The weather at the summit was rather grim with drizzle and thick clouds.
Later that day I climbed over Cold du Soulor and then got to see the road to Col d'Aubisque hacked into the mountain side. I think it might be one of the 10 most spectacular roads in Europe!
Next up before I had to go back home was an attempt to break my speed record on the western side of Col de Marie Blanque. It is a very steep climb I did in May. In the end the road down from the col was in the shade and damp from rain, not really as straight and wide as I had remembered, plus quite liberally sprinkled with cow dung, so I never dared to bike faster that 64 km/h. After that ride I felt quite satisfied after 23 days of solid biking, and decided to go home.
I am quite sure I will come back to the Pyrenees again, they are just simply gorgeous for biking or tourism in general.