Col d Aubisque

Col d ' Aubsique
Date:  10th September 2022
Ride No. 6
Grade: 9/10
Location: Laruns

Segment ID: 16603096
My Time: 1:34:31





Baa stopped in my tracks.

The Col d Aubisque summit was a brief ride along a ridge road from the Col du Soulor.

Once at the summit, it was a matter of descending into Laruns, spinning around and riding back up.

The ridge road had little gradient variation and so I could take in the breath-taking views of Ossau Valley as effortlessly rolled along.

As I approached a sharp bend, I heard the dull, metallic clanging of bells.

My cow friends are moseying up the road, I thought.

But no.

It was a flock of bell wearing sheep.

They ruled the road. These Pyrenees sheep were on a mission.

(This is the second time herded sheep have thwarted me on a climb–previously Bwlch-y-Groes, Wales)

There’s a photo opportunity here if I’m quick, I thought.

The Brompton folded quickly assumed its well-rehearsed pose, much to the amusement of the shepherds, but not the sheep.

Their march remained unbroken.

Lights, camera, action.

Then move the bike out of the road QUICK!


Not enough meat

When my ears had recovered from the sound of umpteen bells, I resumed my pace and thought about how cool that was.

Just then, a dark shape caught the corner of my eye.

I looked round and saw a vulture. Momentarily, it glided parallel just above my level; it was so close I could see its eye.

My spine tingled at the sight of this magnificent bird, and with no effort, it tilted and swept across the valley.

One look at me and it thought not enough meat. Or did it come to inspect the Brompton: Who knows? ?


Out went the lights

I was still enjoying the slight descent on empty roads when I approached a tunnel carved into the mountain side.

This looked spectacular. This is going to be cool to go through.

Well, I was, until I did.

The tunnel was pitch black, there were no lights or cat’s eyes and as the tunnel was on a bend, there was no light from the exit.

My low power strobing front light was worse that useless on the bumpy road surface.

Unable to see to pick any sort of track, I just bounced about in the darkness.

My first realisation that the tunnel was about to end was being blinded by the bright sunlight fighting its way in.

This was more of a scary fairground ride than a tunnel and I was grateful nothing came the other way.

I chose not to stop at the crowded Col d Aubisque summit but descended into Laruns.


I consider moving to France

Priority one was refilling the water bottle. The temperature was over 30 now and my half bottle would not be enough for the ride back.

Laruns’ town square looked deserted. Only the electric bike shop was open, and they will be obliging to a cyclist looking for water.

Well, you would have thought so, but within seconds his sunny smile dropped when he realised I was not a paying customer.

No money to make from a cyclist wanting water, I guess, and grudgingly he pointed to the public WC.

At least the town WC had a tap, and not one of those soap/wash/dryer combos that rarely work.

(I have now decided that I am going to live in France and buy a shop with a sign saying “FERME”. Somehow, people survive by doing this).

Despite its rating of a 9/10, the Col d Aubisque was not bad.

Some sharp shocks and a couple of lengthy sections, but with the weather and views, it was never a grind.

The summit of the Col d Aubisque was now home to groups of motorbikes and a Pyrenees Car Rally and the queue for the shop was long.

Seeing a sweaty Brompton rider needing a Mountain-Cola, they kindly put me to the front of the queue.

Thank you.

And now refreshed, it was time to relive the ridge ride and prepare for the tunnel.

I knew what lay ahead, but it was still a fraught affair.

My front light switched to solid beam was not enough after having ridden from bright sunlight into the pitch-black tunnel.

Again, no cars were a blessing, as I bumped along the tunnel road back to the Col du Soulor.

The summit was quiet and ideal for a welcome pause and more photos.


4 star and a heavenly party

The descent was smooth on the quiet roads until the plateau where things really livened up.

Pedestrians were all over the place, and cars were queuing down the road for a car park field.

I had ridden past the entrance for the “Fete du Ciel” (party of the air/heaven).

It looked like a good place to be, and I would like to have checked it out, but I needed a campsite.

I carried on down and through the town to my car via some interesting manoeuvres down the one-way streets.

I was now whacked out and not in the mood to drive far for a campsite, so I asked Mister Google for help.

Result, a 4-star campsite less than half a mile away.

All I can say is, yes, I could see that this was a 4-star.

It was expensive at 24 euros a night, but with full facilities made it more like a camping Center Parcs.

Of interest to me, though, were the showers rooms and restaurant.

Note the phrase shower rooms.

No push button nonsense. These were waterfalls of constant hot water, which made getting out of one the hardest thing of my entire day?.

As I returned to my tent, the sweet smell of barbecued plastic filled the air from one direction and camper’s pet parakeet screeched from the other.

It was an interesting scenario, and I would have loved to have sat down to take it in, but my restaurant reservation prevented me. How unfortunate?.