Spring Cycling In The Pyrenees - Horquette d’Ancizan (1564m) and Col d’Aspin (1489m) Loop From Arreau

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Friday, 11 May 2018

Spring Cycling In The Pyrenees - Horquette d’Ancizan (1564m) and Col d’Aspin (1489m) Loop From Arreau

So, this was probably our most ambitious ride of the year so far. Usually we tend to go up and down a climb, trying not to overdo it so that we can ride pretty much every day (weather permitting). This time, however, we decided to go for a two col loop. Here’s how we got on.
Starting from Arreau with the morning chill, we pootled up the valley for 4 km to reach the village of Ancizan where the main climbing began. The Horquette d’Ancizan is a steep climb, only 10.3km long but with an average gradient of 7.8% which sees a height gain of 805 metres. The steepest part, however, is right at the start with well over 10% as you leave the village.

Now, the reason for us trying this slightly more demanding loop on this particular day was due to the weather being amazing. Brilliant blue skies and no wind, perfect for cycling up hills. It didn't take long before we were soon rising up the floor of the Val d'Aure and enjoying impressive views along the valley and to the snowy peaks to the south,

The winding climb of the Horquette d'Ancizan was on lovely quiet roads. Unlike some of the more 'famous' climbs, the road felt a lot less manicured than in other parts of the mountains. Of course, even some of the most frequently raced climbs of the Alps have narrow sections, but this particular climb was hemmed in closely for much of the way up and it felt very peaceful as a result. Again, it may not be the same in mid-July, but even with a few dozen other cyclists around, it still felt very quiet.

We reached the top of the Horquette, stopping for a brief photo or two along with a couple of dozen other cyclists and day visitors, and then descended the other side. The view was brilliant, which the pictures can say more than me. In total we descended for 500 metres, broken by a single uphill kilometre soon after the leaving the top. With the sun shining strongly it was fantastic to be on the bike in such a perfect day.

After about 8 kilometres we arrived at the D918 and turned right to start the approach to the Col d'Aspin from Lac Payolle. We were starting just 6  km or so from the summit, with an average remaining gradient of 7.5%. This particular side of the Aspin is the 'easier' of the two, although most of the climbing still lay ahead of us.

Winding up through the trees with mountains away to our right was stunning. We rode together, passing a few people and waving at the many other cyclists coming down the hill. It seemed like no time at all before we had reached the top of the Aspin. Plenty of people were there having lunch and we joined them briefly for a banana and dried fig, before whipping down the other side and back home.

The total look was just over 40 kilometres, with around 1200 metres of climbing, and it was wonderful. Definitely one to do again in future.











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