Act Two, Col One: Aubisque

To be honest, I’m scared merde-less of this one. Act One is bad enough, with 150km or so, but this creature has about the same amount of climbing (lets say 4500 meters, till I figure it out) and is just about 200 km long. Firstly, I’ve only ever ridden 200 km once or twice in my short life, and secondly, I am pretty sure it was flatter than the Pyrenees. So call me what you want. I’m trembling.

This classic route starts in Pau, on the plains, and dives south on what looks to be hilly terrain, finally entering into the Pyrenees National Park, where we’ll be stuck for most of the rest of the long day.

The first climb is the Col d’Aubisque, a Hors Categorie mountain pass that is 16.6 km and rises 1,190m, an average of 7.2%. In comparison to My Ventoux, it is about 5km shorter and a fraction less steep. Still though, it’s only the first of 4 big climbs this day.

The Aubisque has been used in the Tour de France an incredible 42 times since 1947 (and just about every year before that back to 1910), so it is no stranger to legends; leaders at the summit (when it was not used as a stage finish) include Fausto Coppi, Charly Gaul, Eddy Merckx, Miguel Indurain and Cadel Evans. 

Probably the most famous (or infamous) event that occurred on the Aubisque was the awesome spill that Yellow Jersey wearer Wim Van Est took off a cliff on the descent in 1951. Van Est took a turn bad and wiped out, getting chucked off the mountain and falling 70 meters in the process. He survived, but had to be famously hauled up using 40 team tires that were tied together! Ah…the good ol’ days.

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12 thoughts on “Act Two, Col One: Aubisque

  1. Should be good fun, I’ll be riding that distance for the first time ever in a couple of weeks when I ride Wiggle’s ‘The Long One’ sportive, they give it a 5* difficulty rating but I’m thinking it’s got nothing on Act 2. See you in the Alps (before the Pyrenees).

    • Good luck Crazy. You’ll need the distance in the legs for the insanity you are about to inflict upon yourself (Crazy, good reader, will do the Marmotte one day then Act One then next, for a total of nearly 10,000 meters of climbing in two consecutive days…they don’t call him crazy for nothing).

      Let me know your bib number when you get it. I’ll say hi if we’re close.

  2. Best of luck, mate. 200km with those sorts of climbs doesn’t sound much fun to me, though I’m sure it’s very beautiful. You’ve ridden 200km with me, if I recall correctly – though there was a lot of downhill and down-river rolling on that day. And a beer in the middle, come to think of it…
    You’d better carry a bunch of spare tyres, just in case 😉

    • I remember that ride well, Nige, especially the head over heels I took in the dark when we got onto the Tamagawa bike path. I don’t remember the beer, however, though I recall a few the night before. That was an epic 3 or 4 prefecture ride, no question. Thanks for the luck, by the way. I’ll take it.

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