Col de Portet d Aspet

Col de Portet d'Aspet
Date: 3rd September 2022
Ride No. 18
Grade: 6/10
Location: Sengouagnet

Segment ID:16794548
My Time: 45:30






Fresh from Guzet Neige, I am now at Camping Pradelongue, just outside the Pyrenees cycling hotspot of Bagneres-des-Luchon.

A fully equipped campsite with 8 climbs nearby, including the Col de Portet d Aspet and Superbagneres and a super Marché and a petrol station nearby. For what else could you wish?

With time to spare and the privacy of the hedge border, I decided that this would be an excellent opportunity to put up my new tent for the first time.

It all looked obvious. I’ll have it up in no time.

After much beard scratching, I did an unmanly thing and cheated.

I read the instructions and viewed the Decathlon video.

Yes, of course, I knew it went together like that all the time ?.

I settled down in my new des res to consider the next climbs when the ominous rumble of thunder and lightning flashed in the sky.

The wind picked up and, with it, the rain.

It wasn’t the Old Testament version I had enjoyed at Massat, but sufficient to instil confidence in my new tent.

After a good night’s sleep, my first thought was to check the weather apps.

The prospect for the day was grim.

A local walker at a previous campsite had suggested Meteoblue weather, as he believed it to be best for the local regions.

A quick download of the free version and, after navigating the mandatory adverts, it was better news.

The forecast was thunder and lightning in the local area, but fifteen miles north would be clear.

So, it is not grim up north.

Pack up the Yaris and it is off to the Col de Portet d Aspet.

Make climbs while the sun shines.


Extra, Extra, read all about it 

I pulled into the village carpark at Sengouagnet, much to the curiosity of the locals gathered at the local food/coffee caravan.

A British car?

An odd bike?

At first, I had the impression that this might be a local town for local people.

But maybe I was a newsworthy addition to the local paper on a slow day?

Like a stranger walking into a saloon bar in a western movie, the locals fell silent and moved off to a nearby bench as I approached the caravan.

The lady serving smiled and greeted me in English. “How could she have guessed?”

I asked her what time the caravan closed.

She said she closed when she felt like it, but no later than one.

“Bon,” I replied, oddly choosing to speak French.



Off I went, feeling everything was going well, but it was not.

In fact, I went the wrong way immediately.

The Garmin delighted pointed out the error of my ways, (well one of them anyway).

I carried on around the corner, out of sight of my new audience; After a quick U turn, I rode back into town.

I hoped they thought I was doing something technical or evaluating my bike rather than being a dumbass. (If they were the least bit interested, which they weren’t).

Back on the road, in the right direction, I was finally off.

So, an average 6%?

It was an easy start, and I momentarily wondered if my legs were now formidable mountain ones.

No, not really. The first section was only 4%.

I correctly assumed (for a change) that the scales needed balancing, and they were.

The gradient suddenly jumped to 14% and for the next 3Kms it took in all gradients up to 20%.

This was a punishing game of two halves, and with no substitutes on the bench, I just kept spinning.

The final 2Kms relented to a steady 8% allowing me to re-establish a rhythm and get my breath back


Fabio Casartelli

It was while descending these slopes that Fabio Casartelli fatally crashed in the 1995 Tour.

I can still remember watching the tour on the TV when it happened.

In his memory, the Société du Tour de France, and the Motorola team he raced for placed a large memorial in his honour.

I duly stopped to pay my respects.


Athletes like me

I arrived back at the car park before one o’clock, but it still surprised me to see it open.

A customer who I think represented France in talking had engaged the owner with a lip lock.

I think this may be why she was open longer than planned.

I couldn’t understand the conversation, but I stood nearby.

If she should pause for breath, I was ready.

Did the owner spot the dilemma of a paying customer or a welcome opportunity to interrupt a one-sided conversation?

Whatever, I was in for two double espressos and a sandwich.

She said that athletes like me needed to eat well and promptly stuffed half a baguette with roast chicken. ?.

I agreed and thought, well that’s lunch and dinner sorted.