Albufera nature reserve on Saturday was initially supposed to stop just shy of the Spanish border in Jaca, but feeling fresh we had pushed on into France. Initially we had a bit of trouble finding a motorhome aire, however, our back up of Camping le Rey in Louvie Juzon proved to be an ideal location.
At 28km, rising from 525m at Laruns to 1794m at the Spanish border, the main challenge of the Col du Pourtalet is the length! However, as always the average' of 4.5% hides a range of gentle ascents and sharp kicks with the steepest being 9% close to the top.
We set off upwards feeling strong and enjoying the fresh air as we cruised along the initially narrow road by a deep and beautiful gorge cut by the powerful water below. Soon we round bend to find that our view for the day would be a wonderful vista of snow topped summits towering at the valleys head. With the imposing Pic du midi d'Ossau at 2884m and Le Lurien at 2826m these are some of the most impressive peaks in this part of the Pyrenees and we felt very lucky that wee were riding straight towards them.
Riding on we reached the village of Gabas at 1025m where the chill began to take hold and we paused briefly to add some extra layers. Here in the sun and still air it felt warm but the sections of road in the shade, with 3 feet snowdrifts still clinging on, were bitterly cold.
So, donning our warm layers we said farewell to the winter wonderland and cruised the 18km back to Laruns enjoying the increasingly warm air as we negotiated the winding descent.
Arriving back in Laruns springtime returned to the warm evening air. Transitioning from winter chill to a mild spring evening was a stark contrast and we felt especially alive as we powered our way into a headwind along the valley floor. Arriving back at our camping shortly before 6pm, just in time to enjoy a colourful sunset over the surrounding foothills we felt, once again, very fortunate to have found our way back to the Pyrenees on our journey north.
Cycle Information for Col du Pourtalet:
Motorhome Base – Louvie-Juzon (there is an aire at Laruns)
Start/ End Point: Laruns
Average Gradient: 4.5%
Max Gradient: 9%