France From Inside Cycling and Wine Tours France

Cycling, Wine and Cultural Tours in the Dordogne, Pyrenees and Southwest of France.

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Chateau de Pitray
Chateau de Pitray

Without a doubt, this was the cycling trip of a lifetime. The route took us over some of the most challenging and spectacular terrain I've ever encountered. Being an avid cyclist, to have ridden climbs such as the Tourmalet, Aubisque, Marie-Blanque, Peyresourde, and Pailheres is an accomplishment I will brag about for years to come

Rose Hewig, attended in 2009.

 

Not to be believed! When this trip was first planned I thought to myself, are you crazy? 12 days of riding, 7000-8000 feet per day of climbing? The more I thought about it the more I wanted to do it, and so I did. What an amazing trip. As I have said to everyone, it was everything I expected and much, much more.

Jeff Dux, attended in 2006 and 2010..


Nothing fancy here on the video, but something to give you a sense of the Pyrenees mountains. Check out the conditions, perfect. This is in 2006, as we are leaving the town of Font Romeau in the morning on a back road. Clear sunny skies, with balmy temperatures ... and be glad that you don't have to drive the van !

In the beginning Pyrenees

September 10, 2001, my first ride ever in the Pyrenees mountains, col de Soudet - the same locale as the video of Oral describing his impressions of the Pyrenees - and at the top Mom had a picnic laid out! My parents provided good sag-wagon support. Ben's first trip to the Pyrenees as well ... note the sheep in the upper right corner of the photo.

This is the base of the Col de Soudet. You will ride this road on the trip. Hopefully you will not be foolish and naive like I was back in 2001, trying to ride these mountains with a 11-23 cassette and a 53-39 crank.

Riding your bike in France is magical, especially on the small backroads. I like this picture - even though it is grainy, I scanned it from a printed photo - because it is so typical of a small French country village, quiet on a wonderful sunny afternoon, and lots of fun to come racing through on your bike.

2006, we are slightly north of the Pyrenees mountains, but still in rolling hills, on a road that we command, without fear of traffic ... what some might fear is the need to get on the other side of the horizon by the end of the day. A good piece of advice, "don't come on this ride expecting to ride yourself into shape."

My dream is to go mountain bike riding in the Pyrenees ... I wonder how long it would take to ride coast to coast on a mountain bike on the dirt? Only a true Derelict would do that. Pictured here is the Col d'Aubisque summit ... and video below.

This is a video taken by Alberto from Costa Rico, who came on the trip in 2006, at the top of the Col d'Aubisque. Yeah, okay, the video quality is lame compared to today's standards, but the audio of the sheep bells is classic.

Jack is one happy guy, he made it to the top of the Col de Pailheres, and now he gets to go down. The road in the background is the one you will come up. Near the top there is a "short cut" that goes left. It eliminates the final half mile of climbing. Make sure you stay to your right, or you won't get full credit on the trip! I'll have to draw a nasty black "X" on your jersey with a sharpee pen ... always breaks my heart.

2010, near the end of 120 mile day, rain is threatening - thankfully it never came. Nonetheless, there is a certain sense of urgency, but once again, this tiny road, perfectly paved, dropping down the north face of a ridge ... sublime.

Try to get a sense of the grade on this short hill. For once the picture actually does tell the story.

A small village at the base of the high mountains, about midway across the Pyrenees. I love the road zigzagging its way across the slope, the pencil neck electric poles, the hill top town ... it's like this everywhere ... each day of this trip is awesome.

This trip will age you ... he was such a strong young man at the beginning, full of vigour ... alas. It was horrible having to mark his Pyrenees Jersey with a big black "X" ... if he could have only made those final 100 yards.

Sometimes you have to pinch yourself just to make sure you are not dreaming. I do every time I go.

Top of the Col d'Azet, looking west on a cool morning. And Sharon so miniscule in front of the mountains ... it makes me realize just how insignificant she really is.