Start in Bagneres de Luchon. Luchon is an elegant spa town with plenty of bars, restaurants and caf?s, as well as an excellent swimming pool, tennis courts and a small airstrip for light planes and gliders. It is also a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts but perhaps most importantly it is a regular host town for the Tour de France, as we will witness later on in the week. In the evening we will organise the bikes and have a full briefing over dinner.
Riding directly from the chalet we descend through Luchon and continue down the valley to the pretty town of St Beat, an ideal way to warm up for the week ahead. We shortly cross the border into neighbouring Spain where a steady drag brings us to the town of Bossost where we will stop for a drink - or some tapas! The main challenge of the day is the 600m ascent to the Col du Portillon (1293m) which marks the crossing back into France. From here a fast and technical descent leads down into Luchon where another refreshing drink awaits. The Tour riders will ride this exact route from St Beat on stage 17. From here you have the option of climbing back to the chalet in the Vallee du Lys. Ride approximately 66km with 1000m ascent (option to ride back to the lodge will increase the ride by 7km with another 440m of climbing).
A similar start to the day takes us down the valley to Cierp-Gaud where we pick up a nice cycle path following the River Garonne that the region is named after. From here we pass a number of traditional villages before climbing to the charming village of Mauleon Barousse. We will stop for a drink before the 'fun' begins in earnest with the tough but beautiful climb of the Port de Bales (1755m). On any other day of the year this would be a peaceful and remote climb, but today we are riding ahead of stage 16 of the race itself (Carcassonne-Bagneres de Luchon) so there will already be growing crowds to cheer you on! We will find a suitable vantage point near the top of the climb to enjoy the spectacle of the Tour caravan of promotional vehicles and of course the peloton itself, before following their wheel tracks down a spectacular descent down the Valle d'Oueil and into Luchon. Ride approximately 75km with 1300m ascent (option to ride back to the lodge will increase the ride by 7km with another 440m of climbing).
Today we will once again be riding ahead of the peloton as they ride stage 17 from Saint-Gaudens to Saint-Lary-Soulan Pla d'Adet. Our section takes us up and over the spectacular Col de Peyresourde (1569m) and through Loudenvielle with its pretty lake. From here we climb the steep Col de Val Louron-Azet to find a suitable spot to watch the race on the penultimate climb of the stage. From here we will retrace our steps over the easier side of the Peyresourde with the option of a short detour to the ski resort of Peyragudes (1592m) which hosted a stage finish during the 2012 Tour de France. Ride approximately 70km with 2100m ascent (option to ride back to the lodge will increase the ride by 7km with another 440m of climbing).
This morning we will transfer to the town of Arreau and start the ride with perhaps the most beautiful Pyrenean climb - the Col d'Aspin (1489m). A nice descent brings us to Sainte-Marie-de-Campan, home to the forge where Eugene Christophe famously welded his own forks in the 1913 edition of the race. The Col du Tourmalet (2115m) lies ahead and we will climb towards the summit for our final helping of Tour action, stage 18 from Pau to Hautacam. After witnessing the professionals climb this historic mountain we head back over the gentle side of the Aspin back to Arreau. Ride approximately 85km with up to 2750m ascent (depending on how far you choose to climb up the Tourmalet).
Descending via Cierp Gaud and Loures Barousse we arrive in St. Bertrand de Comingues, home to a spectacular hill-top cathedral. Continuing to Nestier we head south-west along a fantastic undulating route along quiet lanes through quiet villages, this really is a truly undiscovered region. After descending into the Vallee d'Aure, a long steady drag brings us to the town of Arreau where we'll stop for lunch. The final challenge of the day is another chance to tame the climb of the Col de Peyresourde (1569m) and its super fast descent into Luchon. Ride approximately 112km with 1850m ascent (option to ride back to the lodge will increase the ride by 7km with 440m climb).
Today we transfer to Cierp-Gaud for one more classic circular ride. Warming up through Fronsac we tackle the pretty Col des Ares (797m) and Col de Buret (618m) in search of our climbing legs! The main challenge of the Col de Mente (1349m) lies ahead, a fabulous climb with plenty of switchbacks and spectacular views to help keep you focussed! One final fast descent brings us back through St Beat for a caf? stop and the short ride back to the vehicle at Cierp-Gaud. Anyone who still hasn't done enough riding is welcome to enjoy an additional 25km (with 600m of ascent) back to the chalet. Ride approximately 55km with 1350m ascent.
After breakfast the trips ends in Bagneres de Luchon.