Ascent to the Col d'Aspin - Halloween in the Hills

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Friday 31 October 2014

Ascent to the Col d'Aspin - Halloween in the Hills

After our epic 2 cols ride the previous day, we took things a little slower on Friday morning and drove the short distance from Arreau to Saint Lary to visit the regional market and replenish our supplies before returning to Arreau once more by early afternoon. However, with the October heatwave continuing for yet another day but the days getting ever shorter we knew we couldn't hang around too long if we wanted to be out on our bikes once more taking advantage of the bright sunshine. As it was already mid-afternoon we decided to give the Col d'Aspin a go since the road to the col began just a few hundred metres from our motorhome outside of Arreau.
At 1469m the Col d'Aspin would be one of the lower cols we'd attempted, but it is also one of the most popular and well known climbs of the Tour de France where it ranks as a category 1 climb with a total ascent of 779m from Arreau over 12km (6.5%). We were eager to give it a go and add yet another col to our growing collection, following in the pedal strokes of some of the famous names of cycling once again.

Starting out in bright sunshine we found the first two kilometres relatively easygoing and just a warm up to the main business of ascending that would happen over the final 10km, with a challenging gradient that hovered at around 8% for much of the way. However, as the road to the col wound its way up a rounded slope protruding out over the Val d'Aure we were delighted to find that after just 5 or 6 km of climbing that the view right along the valley was one of the most fabulous we had enjoyed so far. As the late afternoon sun was already beginning to descend in the sky and there was a slight haze in the air it cast a soft light over the entire panorama, giving the scene before us a magical feeling.

The road was relatively quiet and Esther soon powered ahead having warmed up her tired legs and was feeling strong. I, however, was not feeling quite so good and so pottered along behind slowly grinding my legs as fast as they would comfortably turn and marking off the kilometres one by one, passing wandering cows and admiring the circling birds of prey as I went. Although some sections felt longer than others the finish line was soon in sight as I rounded the final curve in the hillside to see Esther cheering me on from the top and I even managed a sprint for the line.

Cresting the hill also revealed the view west to the distant Pyrenees and the Pic du Midi which stands above the Col du Tourmalet that we had visited a week or so beforehand. It was fantastic and we had even managed to arrive before the sun left the col completely so that we could enjoy the final rays of warmth as we sat taking in the view in both directions until the shadows finally chased us off the top to roll down a chilly descent. Back in the motorhome we even managed to mark Halloween after taking a biro to a handy acorn squash and enjoying a fantastic squash, bean and brussel sprout stew for dinner.

Cycle Information: 
Motorhome Base: Arreau
Start/ End Point: Arreau
Distance: 12km
Ascent: 779m
Average Gradient: 6.5%

Other Related Posts:
Road Cycling in the Hautes-Pyrénées - The Most Famous & Difficult Climbs of the Tour de France

7 Spectacular Cycling Climbs From Vallée d'Aure, Hautes-Pyrénées - Arreau & Saint-Lary-Soulan

Tackling 4 Amazing Cycling Climbs in the Ariege-Pyrénées, France - and 4 for the Future!

See All Our Cycling Climbs in the Pyrenees

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