The Ride to Pla d'Adet – 1700m - Short and steep

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Wednesday 29 October 2014

The Ride to Pla d'Adet – 1700m - Short and steep

When we cycled out of Saint-Lary on Wednesday morning and headed to the bottom of this climb we didn't actually intend to cycle to Pla d'Adet at all, but had been aiming to cycle up to the Col du Portet at 2215m which shared the same road part of the way. We were a bit sore to start off having done a big ride the day before. In fact, we didn't even realise that the ski resort at Pla d'Adet (1700m) had been a Tour de France summit finish just a few months beforehand (won by Rafal Majka). We soon found out, however, when we started the climb and immediately passed a waymarker telling us that Pla d'Adet was 10km away and 900m above us and started to cycle over some very fresh looking names of this years favourites painted on the road.

What that first waymarker didn't tell us, however, what much of that 900m would be crammed into a very steep first 7km which hovered at 9 and 10% and soon had us sweating profusely in the early afternoon sunshine. Ascending around 100m every kilometre, first on 2 long, dragging switchbacks and then following the contours of the mountainside as the road snaked in and out of re-entrants we rapidly rose above the valley floor. The view was awesome. Looking across the valley mountains rose up on all sides and with a clear blue sky all around to frame them they looked even bigger. After some climbs we had tackled recently which spent much of the route in forests, it was a very welcome change to be out on these exposed, precipitous roads allowing us to fully enjoy the spectacular scenery.

After 7km of cycling we had already climbed just under 700m when we reached the turn off that led towards the Col du Portet. A little sad not to be finishing off the Tour de France climb after doing most of the hard work we nonetheless decided to stick to our original plan and swung right to begin the rest of the climb to the col. However, after a further 200m of climbing on a tiny road that snaked up the very steep grassy mountainside, the tarmac surface suddenly became an uneven gravelly track. Perfect for mountain bikes perhaps but not a lot of fun on our hybrids. After resting up for a while and considering our options (riding anyway or walking to the col?) we decided the best choice was to switch the plan, get back down to the 'main' road and finish the climb to Pla d'Adet after all.

So, after a very brief but chilly descent, we renewed our efforts once more following in the pedal strokes of this years Tour de France as we completed the final 3km to the Pla d'Adet. It always feels good to mark off another landmark climb like this and after the steepness and beauty of this relatively short climb it's easy to see why it gets included. Besides, in addition to being a beautiful climb the scenery at the ski station is equally stunning, with views along several of the mountain valleys which extend to the south plus far reaching views of distant summits many miles away.

Apart from some builders completing some final preparations for the imminent ski season the place was almost deserted when we arrived and so we settled on a handy bench to enjoy the view and reflect on how fortunate we were that summer was still clinging on here. Sitting in the sun it was hard to believe that it would soon be November.

Cycle Information: 
Motorhome Base: Saint Lary Soulan
Start/ End Point: Saint Lary Soulan
Distance: 10.7km
Ascent: 861m
Average Gradient: 8%

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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