The great thing about being a keen cyclist is that you and your bike can go just about anywhere.
Transporting a bike is not a particularly difficult thing, just strap it onto the roof of your car and away you go. And if you are lucky enough to live in Europe this means you have access to some diverse and stunning countryside, from the mountains, to the coast and everything in between. One of the really exciting areas to explore are the Pyrenees mountains, and although some of the terrain is not possible to be covered by bike, huge chunks are. The Tour de France includes stretches of road in the Pyrenees that at another time of year are free to be ridden on. But as one Tour de France competitor said, “The Pyrenees are not like any other mountain range, they are hot and humid.” Damiano Cunego was explaining some of the difficulties that face cyclists attempting to climb the Pyrenees, so the time of year you plan to go should be thought of very carefully.
The French Passes
On the French side of the Pyrenees, the high passes are tracks that have been used by shepherds and their livestock for centuries and have simply been covered with several layers of Tarmac. These passes are fabulous undertaken by bike, they are almost deserted and for most of the time you are surrounded by dense woodland.
Why Choose the Pyrenees?
So why should you choose the Pyrenees for your cycling holiday? Well firstly the mountains have five hundred different passes you can select from, and they are the ones that are just over a thousand meters. So, the choices open to you is almost endless. The other big advantage of the Pyrenees roads is that they are quiet, on some of the passes you can ride for thirty minutes before seeing another human being. This makes them great for beginners and families as the group can stay together.
If you consider that the area of Ariege, which is between Andorra and Toulouse, and is the same size as Yorkshire but only has five percent of the population, you can understand why the roads are so quiet. Another big advantage of the Pyrenees is the accommodation available; the small villages and towns are full of guest houses that offer fantastic food and the best possible comfort.
Where to Start
If you are going to tackle the French side of the Pyrenees, then Toulouse is the obvious starting point. It also has an airport with many direct international flights arriving on a daily basis. This means that you will have to hire a car and a bike when you get there and this cost needs to be factored into your holiday budget. If you have the time why not drive all the way from home, that way you can bring your bike with you and also camping equipment that will cut down on accommodation costs.
The Pyrenees are the perfect place to take a cycling tour, they are breathtaking in their beauty in parts and are quiet and safe to cycle.