There are easier ways to ride through the Pyrenees and there is a route that many cyclists bolster, but this is not the route of Jemison Cycling Tours. We raise the bar in every category including how we get from the Bay of Biscay to the Mediteranean Sea.
Using the best routes from our Basque Country tour, Pyrenees tour, Catalunya, Girona, Spain, the Tour de France and the Vuelta Espanya we have come up with a Trans-Pyrenees trip that is 9 days long, with over 53,000 ft of climbing. The hardest day is 135 kms long with 9,400 ft of climbing and our easiest day is 100kms with 4,000 ft.
We start in Donosita with our warm up ride and swim in the Bay of Biscay (Atlantic Ocean). Dinner is the highlight as we walk through the old quarter dining in several tapas bars and sampling a bit of ‘Reserve’.
Day one breaks in the legs as we leave the Spanish speaking coast and ride through villages where the locals only speak Basque. We finish the day by descending into France to hear the 4th language of the day. Dinner conversation covers the riding, Martin Sheen and the movie ‘The Way‘ which is about the Camino de Santiago, featuring the village where we are dining. Basque soup and fresh trout pair well with the local wine from Irouleguy.
My first amateur racing team was FC Oloron and on day three we ride on my local training routes to get there. This year we got mixed up in the middle of a cyclo-tourist event. On a climb outside of Oloron a rider came flying past us… Feeling like it was my domestique duty I spent the next 5 kms to bring the rider back while not dropping my guests. There was also a dozen or so other riders on our wheels. Some instincts are hard to let go. The look on the ‘attacking cyclist’s’ face was priceless as we crossed the finish line. Oops!
It was on the Col du Marie Blanque where I first saw the Tour de France live and Greg Lemond…. I ‘swear’ catching air; surrounded by 3 motorcycles and dropping over the edge, accelerating down the 10-12% grades. As the hair stood on my arms and nerves throughout my spine sparked it was here the I knew I wanted to be a Professional cyclist. Not a particularly long climb, but an initiation for anybody who has not ridden 4 consecutive kilometers that is over 10% in steepness. Are you sure you know what this feels like? Pair this initiation with the Hors Categroy Aubisque and your sure to sleep well just like our guests did.
Fast forward: Tourmalet, Aspin, Peyresourde, Mente, Aspet, Portel and finally the Pailhaires brings us from France into the French, Catalan region. We finished our longest and hardest day by crossing back into Spain, but, where they don’t speak Spanish. Google recognizes the Catalan language, maybe it’s time for the rest of the world to recognize it as well. ( http://www.google.cat/ )
The Mediterranean cuisine in Catalunya is exceptional. One of my favorite restaurants won the Contractworld prize: an exhibition and architectural competition of architects, interior designers and international companies. The prize is for the surroundings but it’s meeting Fina in the kitchen every time I’ve eaten there that put this place over the top.
Climbing over 53,000 ft in 9 days is not easy for anybody and even a seasoned Pro would be challenged. I congratulate every rider that took place and finished this epic ride. It was a pleasure to be there for you.
We celebrate with a toast of not Champagne…. but Cava, because local is better.
Thanks for reading.