Another 2 Col ride from Arreau - Col de Beyrede (1417m) and Horquette d'Ancizan (1564m)

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Saturday 1 November 2014

Another 2 Col ride from Arreau - Col de Beyrede (1417m) and Horquette d'Ancizan (1564m)

Setting off from Arreau shortly after midday on Saturday 1st November, we realised that this was our fifth consecutive day of cycling since arriving in the Vallee d'Aure the previous week. We really ought to feel quite tired by now, however, as the days passed we just kept finding that the sunshine and the beauty of the Pyrenees was giving us so much energy we didn't want to miss a moment. Todays plan was to complete our second big cycling loop and add another 2 famous cols to our list after having had such a fantastic time completing a similar feat just 2 days beforehand.

Our first target for the day was the Col de Beyrede which rises a total of 787m out of Sarrancolin to reach a height of 1417m over 11km, an average of just over 7%. From there we would descend to the road which leads up the western route to the Col d'Aspin (where we had been the previous afternoon), but continue straight on to pick up the way to the Horquette d'Ancizan (1564m) which had featured in the 2013 Tour de France and we estimated would involved about 600m of climbing.

After reaching Beyrede the road up to the Col de Beyrede started with pretty much the steepest road section we had attempted yet at well over 10%. Fortunately this didn't last too long and we soon found ourselves gently ascending through wooded slopes keeping us cool against the hot sun when suddenly, after 6 km or so, the road kicked up once more to well over 10%. Unlike most of the other climbs we had completed, this slightly lesser known climb is not a feature of the major races and so didn't benefit from handy waymarkers and was a much narrower road than we had been used to. It also meant that it was less 'manicured' with the sudden sharp changes in gradient to keep you on your toes. However, after some eye wateringly steep sections of road we did finally espy the col after an hour of solid climbing and arrived to find a very peaceful and pleasant picnic area, full of families enjoying the fine weather.

Not lingering too long with another climb still to come we set off once more and found the descent from the col to be even steeper than the way up! There are several 'routes' from the col down towards the road we were heading  towards (all steep) and it was brakes on full at some points down the narrow track with a variable road surface. Fortunately it was not too long a descent and we soon reached the mid-point of our ride safely before cycling past the Lac de Payolle to pick up the road to Horquette d'Ancizan.

It was actually a bit of a relief to find that climbing the western (easier) side from Lac du Payolle meant that we would only be ascending just over 400m over 8.6km, which at just 5% meant that it should be one of the easier routes we'd attempted. It was even a relief to find that the first few kilometres were 7%+ since with each passing marker I calculated that there must be some far easier sections ahead. However, what I hadn't counted on was the 1 kilometre descent around 3km from the top which lost us a sizeable chunk of the height we had gained and ensured that the road ahead remained at 7%+. That said, the road up to Horquette d'Ancizan was beautiful, first through a golden forest and  then onto more open slopes with the imposing massif de l'Arbizon with its collection of 2700m+ summits towering above us, so anything that made us ride a little slower through the amazing scenery was really a welcome change.

We arrived at the top just as the sun began to disappear behind rocky slopes to be rewarded with another breathtaking view along the Vallee d'Aure which we could have looked at for hours in the soft evening light. However, the fading light had other plans and we soon had to say farewell and complete our loop in the increasingly chilly air, but feeling once more exhilarated and proud of where our legs had taken us.

Cycle Information: 
Motorhome Base: Arreau
Start/ End Point: Arreau

Climb to Col du Beyrede
Distance: 11km from Sarrancolin
Ascent: 787m
Average Gradient: 7.1%

Climb to Horquette d'Ancizan
Distance: 8.6 km from Lac de Payolle
Ascent: approx 400m
Average Gradient: 2.6% (not representative as hides a descent)

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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