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PYRENEIST 1: The Pyrenees sinks in the waters of the Bay of Biscay. We left behind a sea and go in search of another.
PYRENEIST 1: The peloton of the Vuelta a España 2016 between Zugarramurdi and Dantzarienea. The first stage of PYRENEIST meanders between the North and South slopes of the mountain range crossing in its first part the ports of Ibardin and Lizuniaga before deciding to enter the Baztan by the passage of Urbia. In the lower image we see the territory to be pedaledis defined in the chord before the horizon.
PYRENEIST 2: The Izpegi Col, border crossing between France and Spain, is doubly bordered by the change that takes place when passing from the gentle hills of the Baztan in its west slope to the dramatic and spectacular slopes of its eastern slope, which we see In the photography. At the top - to the right - you can see the passage and the road that begins to descend to Saint Etienne de Baigorri.
PYRENEIST 2: The road leading to the Col de Urdanzia - inferior picture - communicates "by the hard", Saint Etienne de Baigorri in the La Nive basin with the road that connects Saint Jean Pied de Port and Roncesvalles through the Roncesvalles Gorge.
In the cyclotourist world this port is known, or rather "little known" as Munhoa, toponym this belonging to the hillside by which the road transits in the point of maximum altitude - 910 meters - that does not correspond with the hill properly said. Its "at least" 5 different ascents oscillate between hard and very hard, with an unevenness of 750 meters and many sections with two-digit percentages.
With almost testimonial traffic and an atmosphere as reflected in the 2 photographs, their inclusion in PYRENEIST ensures the smiles at the end of the day.
PYRENEIST 2: With its 5 different main ascents, all of them around 1000 meters of unevenness, the arnostegi Col begins to stop being a great stranger and begins to occupy its preferred place.
Its simplest route - from Esterenzubi, where we descend - has a coefficient of 268 APM points -Aubisque 255- and the most demanding - by which we ascend - the known as Arnostegi by Bellurti reaches 385, points these of which 358 Have been achieved in just 7 kilometers - Tourmalet 342 in 23 kilometers - If we prefer "less hard" alternatives we can choose the option by Ondarolle -288 points- which although it is still demanding, is more "human".
This is the general tone; Points that are obtained essentially due to the high percentages of their pending and not so much because the mileage is excessive. That said we must add the good things ... to the usual in these lands of the almost testimonial traffic must be added simply that of a beauty that sometimes short breath - in case we did not have enough with the slope -
In some section we will coincide with pilgrims who often have the property to offer us unusual images, in others the view will stop on the natural walls of the pre-Roman fortress of Zerkupe ... always above us, in the vicinity of the Col, the Tower Roman Urkulu ... shepherds shepherds everywhere ...
Anyway! Bucolismo at the end of the Slope, that's what we have.
PYRENEIST 3: The Col de Inharpu, in Los Arbailles massif, was presented "in society" as an aperitif in the Queen Stage of the Vuelta a España 2016. That stage was followed by Soudet - by Saint Engrace - Marie Blanque and Aubisque . For "script needs" the organizers omitted that this first unknown port equaled in hardness (254 APM points in 10 km) to the mythical Aubisque (255 APM points in 17 km) to which they granted a "Special Category" that denied the other ports of the stage. Especially punished was the Soudet, who with his 327 APM points cried with his qualification of "First category Mountain Pass" when he was the King of the day. All this is pure cyclist anecdote, but it puts us on notice of - in what territory we move -
In the photographs, Sky controls the peloton ahead of "the roosters" of that edition of the test; Of white Froome, of green Valverde, of red Quintana and behind and of yellow the Tinkoff Team in which that year militated Alberto Contador.
PYRENEIST 3: The various roads that cross the northern slopes of La Selva de Irati come together in the place known as Chalets de Irati or Bagargi. The port has three slopes, all spectacular but none easy. By the West we will have to climb first Artaburu or Burdinkurutzeta - both biggest words -, by the North we will face Ahuski by one of its 4 slopes - all of them hard - before approaching the spectacular cresterio that from the spa of Ahuski and the Col de Burdin Olatze leads to the top (photo 1). To the East, from Laugibar and by the town of Larrau; (Second photograph) an authentic port TOUR, promoted in the 16th stage of the 2003 edition - after the Soudet - on its route between Pau and Bayonne. Again the numbers do not cheat, 326 APM points and several kilometers with slopes above 10% on average.
By the North option ascend PYRENEIST and BASOAK, the route by stages of 4 days that runs through the North of Navarre. By the East we descend to face the Larrau.
PYRENEIST 3: Converted into TOUR port for its 2 career inclusions -1996 and 2007- Larrau never ceases to be the object of desire. Its numbers speak clearly, 1200 meters of unevenness and 369 APM points, although in PYRENEIST, coming from Bagargi we will reduce a couple of kilometers the rise. In addition to their hardness, they push in their favor the beauty and scarcity of traffic on their asphalt. On our descent down the southern slope we will almost fly over La Selva de Irati.
PYRENEIST 4: The conglomerate of routes - 7 different ascents - culminating in La Pierre Saint Martin or Portillo de Ernaz, added to the great unevenness that we must overcome by any of its slopes, make this colossus of 1,764 meters of altitude, one of the places of "pilgrimage" bound for the Pyrenees.
Its slopes on the northern slope are about 1,500 meters but for once our ascent is the "easy one" - the South slope - crossing the valley of Belagua first and the spectacular Karst de Larra afterwards.
In the photo above, participant of the cyclist Pax Avant 2013 in the vicinity of the cross-country ski resort of El Ferial.
In the lower picture the Pic of Anie watches to the cyclists who cross the Karst of Larra in its descent towards Belagua and Isaba.
Pax Avant 2013
PYRENEIST 4: Once the port is over, one of the longest descents of the Pyrenees begins, 26 kilometers downhill to the town of Osse-en-Aspe, interrupted only by a short stretch of 3 km of gentle ascent to the intermediate Col de Hourataté .
PYRENEIST 4 -PLUS-: If we go strong and opt for the PLUS option we will enter in one of the most spectacular places of the Pyrenees, the Lescun Circus. It will have to be decided well, as the ascent to the Laberouat Refuge does not admit many concessions, and we still have Marie Blanque ahead. The really hard part starts in the village of Lescun, so if we go fair and do not want to burst we always have the option to make a "semiPLUS", in this case ascend to Lescun by the Lhers road and leave the Laberouat for another occasion. It really will have been worth it.
PYRENEIST 5: Ascending the Aubisque, cross the Litor Circus and continuing with the Soulor makes us both leave behind the Western Pyrenees to get into the Centrals, as giving us a bath of legend and myth cycling. The ascension is demanding but without impossible percentages, which facilitates the appreciation of the beauty of the show already during the ascent, before reaching the homage to cycling in the form of huge bicycles that indicates that we are at the top.
PYRENEIST 5: Dramatic atmosphere in the mythical stretch of Litor Circus between the Aubisque and the Soulor. Obligatory pilgrimage for all devotees. Territory TOUR 100%.
PYRENEIST 5: Top scenes at the top of the Soulor and bucolic Pyrenees as we descend to look for the Spandelles.
PYRENEIST 6: It is clear that the TOUR port par excellence of the Pyrenees is the Tourmalet, this also includes the call to the tourist traffic that in some moments can mitigate the beauty of the place. It is not the most beautiful port of the Pyrenees, but we know ... myth is the myth and you have to be there.
PYRENEIST 7: We would be bored if we tried to report here the hundreds of times that the ports of this seventh stage have been covered by the pelotón of the TOUR and even by the one of the Vuelta to Spain. The Hourquete d´Ancizan is a direct and more Pyreneist option to go from Sainte-Marie de Campan to Saint Lary without passing through the port of Aspin.
PYRENEIST 7: The iconoclastic image of the Central Pyrenees, the "lacetes" of Peyresourde
PYRENEIST 7: Fresh morning at the top of Peyresourde and rapid descent towards Bagneres de Luchon.
PYRENEIST 8: In the first photo, climb to the Port de Balès by the slope of Bagneres de Luchon. Below, last efforts before reaching the top.
PYRENEIST 8: Port de Balès Last meters by the slope of Mauleon-Barousse and monument at the top.
PYRENEIST 8: Cattle in the Port de Balès y and descent to Mauléon-Barousse.
PYRENEIST 9: Above, scenes of the Ariége and below, first kilometers of the Port de Lers after the brief descent of Agnes realized by the road that is introduced in the valley to the right of the image.
PYRENEIST 9: Ascent to Port de Lers.
PYRENEIST 10: A special stage, we enter the territory of the Cathars.
PYRENEIST 10 -PLUS-: Before entering in the land of the Cathars we must ascend one of the Pyrenean giants, the Col de Pradell.
In the photo below filling bottles in Espezel, different environment in the region of Aude. We are already fully booked in the Pyrenees Orientales.
PYRENEIST 10: The village of Montségur seen from its castle.
PYRENEIST 10: View of the ruins of the Castle of Montségur from de Col.
PYRENEIST 10: Different moments of the port of Montségur. Up -in the shade- first part of the port before the passage through the village. Below, the road continues making turns above the Medieval Villa of Montségur.
PYRENEIST 10: We continue in Cathar territory, the Castle of Montségur is followed by Puivert.
PYRENEIST 10: In the vicinity of Quillan the Mediterranean environment begins to "contaminate" the landscape.
PYRENEIST 11: Regrouping in the Col de Jau. During the ascent by the North slope of this colossus with 1200 meters of unevenness, the atmosphere returns to be the one of pure Pyrenees. But as soon as we start the descent the Mediterranean will return with force.
In the photo 2 The Baths of Molitg - during the descent by the South face - suggest a longer stop than we can not do, if we want to end the day well.
PYRENEIST 11: The second half of the stage crosses the Massif du Canigou by the Col de Palomère. We are in front of a Grand Port, although the altitude is not excessive -1036m- its 20 kilometers can choke if it is hot. The first part - the one seen in the image - is the driest and most rugged. Then the forest makes an appearance and curiously the environment is "humanized".
PYRENEIST 11: During the long ascent to the Col de Palomère architectural jewels seem to sprout from the forest.
PYRENEIST 11: Col de Palomère, the Mediterranean monopolizes the glances when we begin to descend by the South slope.
PYRENEIST 11: Labastide, now yes, a stop on the way. Today's task is almost finished.
PYRENEIST 11: From the Col de Xatard - a brief tack during the descent - we say goodbye to Canigou, the great massif of the Eastern Pyrenees that we have been outlining in the second half of the stage.
PYRENEIST 12: During the almost 800 meters of ascent of the Col de la Brousse from Céret, the French plain of the Roussillon is falling below.
In the second photo entry to Girona by the Col de Manrella. What we see is what we have ahead to reach the Mediterranean. In the final part of this port we will have to cross a stretch of 1.2 kilometers of "Sterrato". If we want to avoid it the option is to carry out the route of the PLUS version of the stage eliminating at the end of it the hard climb to the Madeloc Tower.
PYRENEIST 12 -PLUS- If we choose the PLUS option we will cross the Valley of the Tech to climb the Pyrenean range by the Col de Coustouges a longer option and more extended option than the passage by the Col de Manrella.
All the ports along the Eastern Pyrenees border line have the common denominator of hosting reminders that help to keep the historical memory alive.
PYRENEIST 12 -PLUS- Road section between the Col de Coustouges and the Col dels Horts. We enter the province of Girona.
PYRENEIST 12: After crossing the plains of the Alto Emporda we ascend to the Col de Banyuls through the Natural Park of the Sierra de Albera.
PYRENEIST 12: Top scenes in the Col de Banyuls. If we are doing the option PLUS, we still have the fearsome Tower of Madeloc before "winning the Paradise".
PYRENEIST 12: Banyuls-sur-Mer from the Col de Banyuls. The Mediterranean is 355 meters below.
On numerous occasions the options to continue advancing in search of the other sea are several. We do not intend to cover them all, but we will put in these tabs some of the possibilities that we had to eliminate with the aim of a clean and defined route.
At its easternmost point the Pyrenees offers several options to touch the Mediterranean. This option of Ares - Besalú adds a stage to the total and is a real gold finish for the route.
From the Tech Valley - where the last stage of PYRENEIST- begins - instead of continuing eastwards, we go back slightly to the southwest by the Col de Ares to enter the province of Girona where we will head towards the sea by a remote and surprising itinerary. The last stage corresponds to the last stage of PIRINEISTA, the sister route of PYRENEIST which crosses the Pyrenees from sea to sea on the southern slope of the mountain range (not yet published).
If for logistical reasons we want to finish in Banyuls-sur-Mer as PYRENEIST does instead of in El Port de la Selva, we easily made the change of route between the towns of Masarac and Sant Climent Sescebes. (see general map above)
The final result for PYRENEIST if we opt for this proposal, is concreted in 13 stages with a total of 1.220 kilometers of route and 31.650 meters of unevenness. ( 1.452 and 38.850 if we opt for the PLUS option). In the image above Castellfollit de la Roca, in the Pyrenees of Girona.
PYRENEIST 12: The Valley of the Tech is integrally crossed by a cross-border road, one of those that seen on the map put in alert our cycloturista instinct. It is not the case, the traffic is calm and without any type of overwhelm with traffic. The ascent to the Col d´Ares, located on the border line, it is demanding if we look at the unevenness -1.227m- but the route ascends gradually from the beginning of the stage reaching the summit in the km36 and except for some isolated slope, the rest of the way will allow us to enjoy of the show that is emerging as we gain height. (photo 1)
In the second photograph the Fort de Lagarde on Prats-de-Mollo-la-Preste, a tourist town situated at the beginning of what could properly be defined as the beginning of the mountain pass.
PYRENEIST 12: As in all mountain passes on the border of the Eastern Pyrenees, in Col d´Ares we also have our reminder of historical memory.
PYRENEIST 12: We left behind Rocabruna and already descended the Boixeda -a soft acclivity by this slope- we find one of the jewels of the Catalan Romanesque, the temple of San Cristòfol de Beguet, medieval town and architectural monument in itself.
PYRENEIST 12: We are immersed in the Alta Garrotxa, the terrain is a combination between wild and friendly. After the Boixeda we have to deal with the Col of Pera / Bucs first and with the Camporiol then before reaching the bottom of the valley in the vicinity of Castellfollit de la Roca.
PIRINEISTA 12: The ascent to Mare de Déu del Mont - one of the great - gives a touch of perfection to this last stage in which PYRENEIST reaches the Mediterranean Sea.
After almost a thousand meters of ascent, and already with the sea in the horizon, it is necessary to finish until the same summit to give as valid the ascent. It will be worth it.
PIRINEISTA 12: Unless this cloudy - is one of the possibilities - the spectacle from the viewpoints of La Mare de Déu del Mont reaches the sublime. it's not a pass, It is a summit with its 360º. On one side the Pyrenees that we leave behind, on the other the sea to which we go and the Girona - deep and surely unknown - that behind the rapid descent we will begin to know.
PIRINEISTA 12: Through the unknown Girona, Col de La Creu, Absolute tranquility during the 25 kilometers of concrete road to Albanyá.
PIRINEISTA 12: Sant Pere de Rodes -last mountain pass- Last chance to take a look at the Pyrenees we left behind.
PIRINEISTA 12: Sant Pere de Rodes
500 meters below, in El Port de la Selva, the sea awaits.