Sadly, thanks to a unfortunate reversing incident by me on Sunday as we left Cauterets, our intervalley move to Arreau in the Vallee d'Aure (which lies further to the east in the Haute Pyrenees), was more stressful than we'd anticipated. In addition to some minor damage to the motorhome rear bumper, it also put Esther's bike out of action until we could get our hands on a new rear wheel which had scuppered our plans to tackle the Col d'Aspin on Monday while we searched for the part instead. Fortunately we did manage to find a bike shop a little further along the valley at Saint Lary Soulan and so were able to begin Tuesday with 2 functioning bikes and our plans to make the most of the unseasonal October sunshine back on track.
Since we'd already travelled deeper into the Vallee d'Aure we decided to choose a new cycle route and settled on the 'Route des Lacs' which began in nearby Fabian at 1050m altitude before climbing to the mighty Lac de Cap de Long at 2175m right on the border of the Pyrenees National Park and the Reserve Naturelle de Neouvielle. There are in fact more than 70 lakes in this small part of the Pyrenees, dotted throughout the giant nooks and crannies formed by the mountains, (some natural and some man-made), with Lac de Cap de Long being the largest holding 9 million cubic metres of water behind an enormous dam.
The climb began right out of Fabian, starting steep and staying that way as the 14km route to the lake wound through a deep gorge, primarily following the river and taking in countless waterfalls. With the first few kilometres on the northern flank of the valley we managed to enjoy some of the warm sunshine and work up a good sweat. Unfortunately we soon crossed a bridge carrying us right into the shadow of the surrounding cliffs and pretty much stayed there until very close to the top, meaning the early sweat turned from a cooling layer into a freezing one which could only be overcome by keeping going.
Motorhome Base: Saint Lary Soulan
Start/ End Point: Saint Lary Soulan
Distance: approx 14km from Argnouet-Fabian
Average Gradient: 8%
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7 Spectacular Cycling Climbs From Vallée d'Aure, Hautes-Pyrénées - Arreau & Saint-Lary-Soulan
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