It is in the Pyrenees that the Tour de France is often won or lost but you don't have to match the professionals for speed and endurance to enjoy cycling through this wonderful landscape. From a leisurely family outing to a heart-stopping mountain bike descent’ the Pyrenees provides the perfect backdrop.
Regions that offer Cycling
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The Tour de France will make its annual journey to the Pyrenees in 2007. The first Pyrenean stage on 22nd July starts at Mazamet passing through Carcassonne, Limoux and Quillan before hitting the Port de Pailhères (17 km at 7.2% gradient) and finishing with a tough climb to the Plateau de Beille (16 km at 7.9%). The second stage on 23rd July is an all Pyrenean day and without question will be one of the major stages on the Tour. Starting in Foix the route takes on no fewer than five referenced mountain passes including the Port de Balès (19.5 km at 6.2%), a first for the Tour. Following a rest day in Pau, the third stage in the Pyrenees and the final mountain stage starts in Orthez and includes four formidable climbs including the Col de la Pierre Saint-Martin (14 km at a 5.2%) and finishing with the gruelling race to the summit of the Col d’Aubisque (16,4 km at 6.9%).
Mountain Bike Pyrenees (known as VTT in France) is becoming an increasingly popular sport. There are many marked routes for you to explore in France, each of which is graded to ensure that you can choose the right circuit for your group. The grading system follows the well-known standard ski descriptions (green - very easy, blue - easy, red - difficult, black - very difficult). There are fewer marked routes on the Spanish side although guidebooks are now available to help touring this side of the range.
Downhill biking also continues to grow, as more ski lifts are adapted to take bikes in the summer. Getting you up the mountain quickly and without effort ensures that you have all your energy in place for the adrenaline-fuelled descent. Heavy, sturdy custom bikes with a low saddle position for a downhill posture are used which have the strength to cope with the rough terrain. Full head-to-toe protection is strongly advised!
To take full advantage of the excellent biking terrain here, a number of custom bikes have emerged which can make for a good fun day out. Devil bike and downhill scooters are the two most popular types for hire. If there is a bit of the devil in you, then don your helmet - forget pedalling and just head down the slope for a white-knuckle, full-on ride!
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