Luz Ardiden

Luz Ardiden
Date: 8th September 2022
Ride No. 7
Grade: 8/10
Location: Luz-Saint-Sauveur

Segment ID: 16794456
My Time: 1:21:57





Fruit cake surprise

Now back at my campsite with the afternoon spare after the Col-du-Tourmalet, my thoughts turned to nearby Luz Ardiden.

But first I needed to refuel.

A bloodhound search through the boxes in the car soon discovered a three-week-old Marks and Spencer’s fruit cake.

I was uncertain of its condition, and although a squashed it passed the half a cake demolition taste test with flying colours.

Luz Ardiden, this climb had occupied my mind more than any other.

The segment for the Greatest 100 is called Luz Ardiden OLD, and it made little sense to me.

If you follow the course on a map, the route cuts off a perfectly good hairpin by taking you up a steep walking track. At the end of the track, you return to the road.

I checked Strava, Veloviewer and registered climbs by others.

The riders and maps went up the grass track.

If it’s what it is, that’s what it is. I’m unconvinced.


Accept it

“WTF, you’re having a larf.”, screamed my legs as they enjoyed the first Km at 15%.

Sorry legs, the day’s not over yet.

The Luz Ardiden lives up to its reputation as it smashes you with everything from 15 to 21%.

If you wanted more, the powerful gusts of wind around some bends filled that void.

I only saw one car on the road during my ascent: it passed me three times.

The distinctive feature was a graphic of a cat’s tail on the back windscreen wiper waving at me. I found it quite amusing as I had recently grown fond of cats ?.

Anxiously I approached the 3Km to go mark and the point where you leave the road for the grass track.

It is not rideable, but the map and app agree that this overgrown path up the hillside is it.

Given my recent experiences, I was apprehensive, but every device said it was right.

With reluctance, I took the plotted path and re-joined the road.


The man whips out his Leica

A couple of Spanish riders were already at the summit as I approached and before I could even think to utter a word, they said, “Non-parle Francaise”.

I said, “Me neither, I’m English.”

“Hi.” They replied.

Well, that saved a lot of bother.

We had a good laugh, had a chat, and discovered the podium.

This was the ideal photo prop, much to the amusement of other visitors.

One gentleman observed me holding my Brompton aloft and asked, “Is that electric?”

“No, mechanical”. (I didn’t feel like my standard reply of “No, but I am” was appropriate).

He was a reporter and said that he hadn’t heard of anyone riding a Brompton up Luz Ardiden before and asked if he could take a photo.

Of course, I replied as he whipped out his Leica from a shoulder bag.

This was serious stuff. The nearest I had ever come to a Leica was spelling it.

Lots of questions followed, and they all seemed relevant. So maybe he was a reporter. Who knows?

Oh fame, how am I going to deal with you? I lamented.

I haven’t heard anymore since, but then again, I wasn’t and I’m still not holding my breath.

The descent lived up to the hype.

Big banking hairpins with no need to waste brake rubber if you could hold your line and nerve.

(I didn’t take the grass track on my way down).



Back at the campsite and, of course, an anxious look at Strava and Veloviewer to check out if this bizarre segment was valid and counted.

“YES, it did.” The stupid detour was correct, and it counted. Phew!!!

Rip open the Lapsang and break out the other half a fruit cake.

It’s party time!

There WAS an incorrect route in my book version, see  – “The Luz Ardiden Problem” for update.