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Raid Pyrenean
  • I'm thinking about riding from one side Pyrenean coast to the other next summer. There are a few package tours out there offering it. But I'd rather do it a bit more independently and cheaply. 

    Anyone know anyone who's done it the non-package way or got any advice/tips about riding it on a budget?
  • I've done a packaged version, with Baxters, and then organised a trip for some mates where we did the Touriste version, which is longer, does more cols but has a more relaxed time limit a few years later. 

    The classic Raid is a tough ask, you've basically got 4.5 days to do 450 miles with a big col every 50 kms. You can, of course, not go for the official version and ride it at a more leisurely pace. I recall spending the time between cols doing through and off with some others on the trip to eat up the kilometres.

    The version I organised was much more relaxed, we were doing 100 kms a day and I basically sat down one winter's evening with some maps, worked out a town or village to stay in then used a mix of the internet and a Logis de France guide, and found hotels. I then booked rooms with them via fax (this was 1999). We were lucky that a friend talked a friend of his into providing support for us, so we could throw the luggage in a van each morning and not worry about carrying our kit with us. 

    My mate Ken, who I met on the first trip and was part of the group on the second, has ridden it 3 or 4 times unsupported, with minimal luggage so that's an option too. I reckon you could do it with a large saddlebag, if you were adept at travelling light. 
  • I wrote up the original version for some mates and it ended up on the Trento bike pages. I've not re-read it for years so hate to think what a tit I sound, but here's a link;

  • Nailed it Andy.

    Shortest thread ever.
  • Thanks Andy, really helpful. 

    It looks like we've found a couple of mugs good friends to be our support drivers, so I think a DIY route is on. I agree the 100-hour is not for the faint-hearted. We fancy a slightly more relaxed trip, spreading it over around 6 days instead of 4.5. 

    I like the idea of sitting down with a good map and planning a route. They were the days.
  • I could picture every part of that read. Thanks!

    Do you still have the Pinarello? Any pics of the tour knocking about?
  • Ah, maps. Lovely things.
  • At one point, with both of us soaking wet and cold, Robert said it could be worse. I was incredulous. "How could it possibly be any worse than this, it's cold, it's wet and we've got 40 miles to go today ?". "We could be camping", he replied. Fair point.
    They'd commandeered the open fire and we stripped off some of our wet clothes and draped them across chairs in front of the fire. It was only now that I'd stopped that I realised how cold I was, and I spent the next few minutes shivering by the fire.

    Nick - it's like Spain!

    Later on, back in the UK, I discovered that the combination of the tar and the tight clearances on my Pinarello had led to the paint being badly scratched on the rear of the seat tube. I guess I should have ridden around the roadworks rather than through them.

    Dan - it's like Spain!
  • Sam said:

    I could picture every part of that read. Thanks!

    Do you still have the Pinarello? Any pics of the tour knocking about?



    I had one of those disposable cameras. The rain on the Aubisque destroyed it.

    The Pinarello is long gone, sold it nearly ten years ago.
  • Andy P cycling since forever.
  • Sounds like an amazing adventure. I will put aside some time to read it.
  • andyp said:

    Sam said:

    I could picture every part of that read. Thanks!

    Do you still have the Pinarello? Any pics of the tour knocking about?



    I had one of those disposable cameras. The rain on the Aubisque destroyed it.

    The Pinarello is long gone, sold it nearly ten years ago.


    Shame about the camera :0(

    Reading this makes me wish I did something similar when I was in my yoof. No effing chance now!
  • Yeah, great write up. Long enough to be a novel.

    Andy, can you ghost-write my account of the trip after I've done it?
  • I've got all the maps if you want to borrow them. That said, they are close to 20 years old so might be a bit out of date. 

    In terms of route planning, I'd definitely miss out the Col de Puymorens, it's a RN and the road from Ax-les-Thermes was very busy back then, it's probably even worse now. The Port de Pailheres is a better alternative, although it is a tougher climb. The back roads from there to Prades were one of the highlights of the second trip. In fact, if I'm honest, the second trip was a better ride all round, good weather, quieter roads, very little in the way of flat valley roads between the cols, and a chance to ride some of the lesser known Pyrenean cols (although most are used in the Tour as there aren't that many to choose from when route planning in the Pyrenees. 
  • I've probably got some old Pyrenees maps from my trip back in the early 1990s on a £60 second-hand bike
  • Would you do it 39/26 again Andy?
  • Christ, no. That trip pre-dates compact chainsets, so it was either that or a triple. I raced then, triples were for tourists.

    I got a compact a few years later and it was a revelation, you no longer had to grind your way up the steep bits.
  • Good job you had youth on your side
  • Had? You cheeky fucker.
  • Internet, 1996. Props.
  • :-)

    I wrote an article about cycling resources on the Internet for Cycling Plus in 1995. They gave me a column too, with the aim of highlighting new sites, but it only ran for a couple of months as the new editor thought it was a fad.
  • WAC

    Foppin comic
  • Cycling plus, not Weekly
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