This route starts in Bossòst, but could just as easily serve for cyclists staying in Vielha, who could reach Bossòst along the N-230’s wide shoulders.
We start in Bossòst, leaving the town from the south, along the River Garona, and turning uphill, right at the roundabout, up the N-141. This is the beginning of the Portilhon, the col which marks the border between Spain and France. It starts with a series of hairpins affording great views back out over Bossòst, climbs past Aran Park, and after crossing the border at the top, sweeps quickly down into France.
At Saint-Mamet, if you’ve got good legs, follow the GPS track left, after you cross over the River Pique, to head towards the climb up to Superbagnères. This climb is a dead-end, meaning you will climb to the top and return to this point. So if you would rather leave it out, turn right after crossing the River Pique and continue through Bagneres de Luchon.
If you decide to climb to Superbagnères, it ramps up quite soon after leaving Saint-Mamet, including some ramps of 12% within the first two kilometres. The total climb is 18.5 kilometres, and for expert cyclists. The total elevation gain is 1170m, which brings you up to over 1800m if altitude, with an average gradient of 6.3%. You’ll eventually leave the tree line behind, and the landscape opens up to wide open high-altitude pastures, with views of many of the 3000m high snowy peaks in the region. Once you reach the ski station at the top, all that remains is to turn around, and enjoy the descent back down to Bagnères-de-Luchon!
The route now crosses Bagnères-de-Luchon from south to north, then follows the River Pique, along the D125, all the way to Gaud, where we bend right at the roundabout and join the D44, towards Marignac. The D44 is an easy enough road, climbing very gently after Marignac. We arrive at the valley of the River Garonne, and turn right onto the N125, which continues to climb softly, along the river valley, towards the Spanish border.
Points of Interest
The climb up to Superbagnères is a pilgrimage ride for Tour de France fans, who have witnessed many a famous battle between the world’s top cyclists on its ramps. It is very wild, and there are nice views (and sounds) of the River Lys crashing downwards alongside the road, along the route.
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