East West C2C Spanish Pyrenees Tour.

Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)
sweatpee
Posts: 18
Joined: 27 Jan 2010, 2:20am

East West C2C Spanish Pyrenees Tour.

Postby sweatpee » 20 Mar 2014, 9:53am

Hi all...

I've spent a while searching for info on this and there is almost too much to narrow down some of the specific questions I have so I'm posting this in the hope that if anyone has any links to threads of use or information they can share that would be great.

I'm planning a coast to coast trip from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic on the Spanish side of the Pyrenees. My route is still rough at the moment, I enjoy climbing but not descending at speed and the significance of conquering Cols is not important to me so I am not intending taking in any Grand Tour sections on purpose but if the are on route that's fine too. I've seen that on opencyclemap.org there is a national cycle route which is basically what I am starting my planning around.

http://www.opencyclemap.org/?zoom=8&lat ... ayers=B000

I'll be wild camping and travelling solo on a loaded Columbus steel tourer with 42c tires that can handle some rough/gravel, I've done week long tours before and plenty of overnighters but this is the first long tour I will have done. I am planning on leaving Barcelona cycling up the coast and hitting the EV8 briefly then taking this route leaving 1st June I have a fairly open ticket time wise and plan to ride on up through France, Belgium and the Netherlands hopefully finishing early/mid July.

Has anyone taken this route either direction, or has any knowledge of it they'd like to share? How epic are the climbs, whats the traffic like and the wild camping options? How long did it take etc? Any good links to blogs other than crazyguyonabike and other stuff thats on the first few pages of google?

Also if there are some good paper maps that anyone can advise on that would be good.

Perhaps a stupid question but can anyone tell me the name of this route linked on opencyclemap?

Cheers - apologies if i've not looked hard enough...

Gearoidmuar
Posts: 2095
Joined: 29 Sep 2007, 7:35pm
Location: Cork, Ireland. Corcaigh, Éire má tá Gaeilge agat.

Re: East West C2C Spanish Pyrenees Tour.

Postby Gearoidmuar » 20 Mar 2014, 11:35am

I've been in the vicinity of that route, here and there, most particularly the Bielsa Araganouet tunnel three times.
I think it's going to be terribly hilly. Find that out before you stir!

sweatpee
Posts: 18
Joined: 27 Jan 2010, 2:20am

Re: East West C2C Spanish Pyrenees Tour.

Postby sweatpee » 20 Mar 2014, 12:02pm

Thanks, hilly I can handle but terribly hilly may become tiresome, although if that's the case I would just bail out from the Pyrenees and head into France. What allured you to the tunnel 3 times is it a particularly impressive tunnel?

ANTONISH
Posts: 1119
Joined: 26 Mar 2009, 9:49am

Re: East West C2C Spanish Pyrenees Tour.

Postby ANTONISH » 20 Mar 2014, 4:39pm

You could use the "pyreneen raid" route as a guide - Cerbere to Hendaye in your case, but most go in the opposite direction (possibly because of the prevailing wind :evil: ) . If you don't want the really high cols there is ample opportunity to use lower pretty well parallel roads.

ossie
Posts: 307
Joined: 15 Apr 2011, 7:52pm

Re: East West C2C Spanish Pyrenees Tour.

Postby ossie » 20 Mar 2014, 11:30pm

I cycled over the pyrenees using a small section of your route, close to Olot. This was late June and it was cold and snowing at 5000 feet. Ive also driven part of your route from Camprodon up to the ski resort past Setcases.. this was August and it was bloody freezing as well..so take appropriate gear. However I couldnt see anything past that point that I would want to lug a fully loaded bike up . Its high mountain trails, hiking stuff more than anything. Its bloody steep as well :D

sweatpee
Posts: 18
Joined: 27 Jan 2010, 2:20am

Re: East West C2C Spanish Pyrenees Tour.

Postby sweatpee » 21 Mar 2014, 1:55am

Cheers for the comments.

All of the them are good things to think about, I was worried about the cold, although I prefer climbing hills in cold weather but I wasn't planning on setting up camp and hanging around where there is cold and snow, is it likely that you will get caught at altitude for long periods in the Pyrenees? I kind of assume [mother of all mistakes] that once you climb to altitude you put some tights on get the windproof out and descend to a warmer temperature.

As pointed out in PM the OpenCycleMap route is has a fair bit of off road which does worry me a little, I've cycled the South Downs on my bike loaded, I doubt I'd do it again, plus being solo I don't want to end up too remote. That said, I've always found OCM to be pretty reliable and I was surprised to see the route high lit, which according to the key seems to be a 'National Cycle Route' but there is no route number and little [no] info about it online.

sweatpee
Posts: 18
Joined: 27 Jan 2010, 2:20am

Re: East West C2C Spanish Pyrenees Tour.

Postby sweatpee » 7 Sep 2014, 9:55am

I finished my tour of the Pyrenees and cycled up through France and got a ferry from Dieppe to Newhaven. It was by far the most rewarding thing I have done in my life. I thought it might satiate my desire to cycle tour but I can't help but think of the next time I can cycle through a mountainous area and find myself daydreaming about it constantly.

A highlight was cycling between Ochagavia and St Jean Peid a Port which was gruelling but wonderful.

Here's some pics to help inspire anyone else to do something similar. DO IT!

IMG_1091.jpg
IMG_1043.jpg
IMG_1012.jpg
IMG_0988.jpg
Attachments
IMG_1120.jpg

sweatpee
Posts: 18
Joined: 27 Jan 2010, 2:20am

Re: East West C2C Spanish Pyrenees Tour.

Postby sweatpee » 8 Sep 2014, 4:06am

Incidentally, the opencyclemap route I linked to in my first post is very much an off road MTB route.

I met some guys who were doing it in a week with a support vehicle a day before they finished. About 3000 mtrs of climbing a day. They were all absolutely exhausted and I have absolutely no idea why anyone would want to put such a challenging time pressure on a trip like that. The Pyrenees are beautiful and deserve to be enjoyed. Anyway...

CBreeze
Posts: 11
Joined: 10 Feb 2015, 10:04pm

Re: East West C2C Spanish Pyrenees Tour.

Postby CBreeze » 10 Feb 2015, 10:38pm

I find myself in a similar position to that you were in about a year ago - I've noticed this seemingly unnamed route through the Pyrenees on the OpenCycleMap website and think it has great potential but am struggling to find a whole lot of information on it. Fortunately you came back and posted about your experiences which is very helpful and now I feel as though I can't really not have a go at this after your review!:

It was by far the most rewarding thing I have done in my life. I thought it might satiate my desire to cycle tour but I can't help but think of the next time I can cycle through a mountainous area and find myself daydreaming about it constantly.


So I was wondering if you happen to have a blog or something about your trip? I'm not overly concerned about the scary looking contours of this region or the off road tracks as I 'should' be able to cope with that (famous last words) but I am just looking for some basic practical information about camping spots (wild camping easy/cheap campsites?) and supply points along the route (are there plenty of villages with stores or is it a case of coming very well loaded with food?).

My route would be roughly starting at the Med (in the summer) then following this all the way to San Sebastian then from there up the French EV1 route back to England.

Cheers

whoof
Posts: 538
Joined: 29 Apr 2014, 2:13pm

Re: East West C2C Spanish Pyrenees Tour.

Postby whoof » 11 Feb 2015, 1:22pm

I've ridden from Bilbao into the Pyrenees at St John Pied de Port. Across all the major Cols until I got the Med at Cerbere and then down the coast to Barcelona.
A couple of things that might be of interest.
Campsites are more plentiful, cheaper and have better facilities in France than in Spain.
We followed the coast road to Barcelona and found that it got busier the nearer we got to the city. Good news is there's an easy opt out. We rode until Mrs Whoof had enough of the traffic and then got the coastal train into the centre of Barcelona. No problems taking your bike on the train as long as you don't travel in commuting to and from work times.
If you take the coast road from the border to Barcelona I don't think there will be much scope for wild camping in this section.
Take some gloves. In mid-June at the top of the Tourmalet in was snowing and foggy. On the descent icicles were forming on my eye brows.
Don't worry about the climbs they are really are easy. Not much that's steep (compared to many UK climbs) just a lot longer. You will only come unstuck if you set off too quickly, are over geared or try to ride too far. We limited ourselves to two large climbs a day enjoyed the riding and the amazing scenery.

sweatpee
Posts: 18
Joined: 27 Jan 2010, 2:20am

Re: East West C2C Spanish Pyrenees Tour.

Postby sweatpee » 14 Feb 2015, 6:03pm

cbreeze -

The unnamed route follows a lot of off-road trails, I met a guy on a hard tail MTB that was riding it and given up. There is up to 3000m of climbing a day if trying to cover normal road distances. I think that the opencyclemap marker for this is slightly misleading but I am sure that if you are prepared properly for it and don't try and force yourself to achieve superhuman goals it would be an amazing ride. The group who were doing it were on unloaded high-end mtb's, their equipment was all carried by a support vehicle that met them at the campsite. Without wanting to be negative I can't imagine it being possible to take it on and enjoy the experience as much as the many quiet road routes.

The Pyrenees were amazing the more I look back on my trip the more I want to do it again and I will I am sure.

Wild camping was fine, although there are rules about it, officially you can't do it but if you are discreet who will know? I abided by the 'leave only footprints and take only memories' rule. I also had the view that if there were no campsites near by and I was tired it was safer to stop and wild camp than continue and I can't imagine any reasonable Park Ranger would argue with that.

In Spain, I found the campsites much better than in France, Spanish campsites usually have a store and a simple restaurant, in France they were either very 'holiday park' with a noisy bar and swimming pool or very, very basic [and cheap] with few facilities at all. However they were usually less frequent in Spain so you had to plan more. Don't underestimate the frustrations that the Spanish siesta can cause, it's not unusual for stores to be closed between 10.30 and 17.30, so pack plenty of light, energy rich foods to cook up in an emergency.

I also felt that the gradients in Spain were less brutal than in France where the climb could go from 10% - 7% - 14% - 18% - 5% and so on. The Spanish roads were also better surfaces. But I was in the Spanish side more than 80% of the time so it may just be that the French side I did cover was worse than the rest.

I would avoid the EV1, it's not very interesting cycling, there must be a more interesting inland route through France although I think if you have a riding partner the EV1 would be less boring and allow yourself extra time to deviate from it, either to go and dip in the sea or head inland.

I missed out San Sebastian and went straight to Bayonne, I regret that, San Sebastian is very beautiful from what I hear and I would definitely head there if doing it again.

You're right not to be scared of the contours, although they are hard work, the rewards are huge.

Here's another picture to further whet your appetite.
Attachments
pyre.jpg

CBreeze
Posts: 11
Joined: 10 Feb 2015, 10:04pm

Re: East West C2C Spanish Pyrenees Tour.

Postby CBreeze » 26 Feb 2015, 11:18am

Thanks both for the helpful replies!

sweatpee - in light of what you are saying here I might have a go at the unnamed route but then have some alternative surfaced road options planned out if the unpaved sections turn out to be too much to be enjoyable. I've done off road touring through New Zealand before and loved the challenge and complete lack of traffic. However I know a 3000m day + off road is tough I just have a feeling this will be tougher so I will plan my days carefully if I go ahead with this in the summer.

Interesting what you say about the EV1 route as well, I had it recommended to me but I always wondered if that person was recommending it on the basis of it being flat : )

Anyway I will report back with the details of what I ended up doing!

Thanks,


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