Squadra di Vecchi Tori

Col de Souleur and Aubisque by kiwicyclist
July 16, 2011, 6:30 am
Filed under: Rides

Road to the Aubisque above.

Another big day of climbing today.  After yesterday’s first epic day up the Tourmalet the organised ride options were a flat ride to Pau or an ascent of the Souleur and the Aubisque.

Poz had also suggested back in Melbourne adding another climb off the Souleur called the Col de Spandelles, however a quick examination of the ride profile on Climb by Bike confirmed that Poz must really hate me or he is a sadist.  It is shorter but is a beast of a climb so we left that one for another day.

Most of the group opted for the start in Pau so only three of us set off for the Souleur. 

It was another great day of climbing.  We were assisted getting through the town at the end of the bike path at Argeles-Gazost by a Basque father and his eleven year old son who proceeded to drop us like a bad smell as soon as they hit the Souleur climb.  Those Basques are built for climbing.

We took our time with many other bike riders heading up the hill and enjoyed a great climb up to the valley leading to the Souleur – marred only by arriving just after a Bike Style Tours rider had come off on the descent at speed on a corner and was being attended to by an ambulance with blood covering half his face.

A quick coffee in Aucun and then we ascended the Souleur to find a large crowd already gathered.  Onwards for 10 ks to the Aubisque which consists of a downhill drag along the high clifftop road and through two tunnels as shown on today’s TV stage.  We made good time  up to the Aubisque by around 1.30pm with the assistance of a couple of mars bars to ward off an impending hunger flat.

We made the return journey to the Souleur quickly and descended at speed trying to beat the road closure to get back to Lourdes in time for the finish.  A downhill smash followed until we reached the final village up in the valley above Argeles only to be waved down by a gendarme and told to go no further – and I can tell you you do not argue with these guys. 

Luckily we were told by a local of another way down via a minor valley road which was a real bonus with a very technical and somewhat sketchy descent included for good measure and managed to get back to Lourdes by 3 in time to watch the stage.  We walked over to the finish which was about 2 ks from the hotel and saw Thor race by at the 400m mark which is where we were perched.

Had an interesting wander around Lourdes on the way back to the hotel to pick up a bagette and cheese.  The entire town is filled with religous pilgrims that seem to be either maimed, ill or decrepid with large processions each night through the town to the Grotto for religous blessings.  The pilgims appear to be as excited about being in Lourdes with the prospect of divine intervention into their lives as we are about being here to ride and watch the Tour.

Hotel transfer coming up tomorrow with the prospect of the climb to Plateau de Beille.  With any luck we will be somewhere on the hill.

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get any photos of the Aubisque as I broke the mount on the D90 pulling it out of my backpack one time too many and will have to hunt out another lens over the next few days.  Bit grumpy about that but maybe its a lesson not to drag an 8 or so kg pack up an HC climb as I have been doing.


Aucun just about to grab yet another mediochre coffee before tackling the Souleur.

Souleur climb

Valley view leading up to Aucun

Top of the Souleur – nice and warm today


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