I just got back from a custom tour that began in the middle of the French Pyrenees and ended on the Mediterranean in Spain. This tour was one of the now-famous Tom and Doug specials. T&D are loyal clients of 44|5 Cycling Tours and have helped us create 4 or 5 new tours over the years, usually by saying something like, “we are going to the Dolomites next year, with or without you”. Next year it’s going to be France, Switzerland and Italy, around Mont Blanc.
It was a wonderful week with excellent hotels and great restaurants, but there was one bit that made me nervous – Andorra. It is a cycling destination and there are plenty of pros living there (although maybe more for the tax benefits than the riding), but it’s also a very crunched little country with one main road going in and out (from Spain to France). That road ended up being very busy, but there was a shoulder/bike lane and the drivers were extremely kind. In the end, it was one of our climb choices that ended up being a potential issue – the stupidly steep Coll de la Gallina. It’s one of those climbs in which studying the profile doesn’t really help that much.
All those 9% averages near the top mask a good amount of double-digit gradients that could make a man cry (or so I hear). All our riders made it to the top, though, and none of them asked for their money back.
Other than this little monster, we also did the Peyresourde, Aspin and Hourquette d’Ancizan in France, the Envalira in Andorra, and some smaller-but-beautiful climbs in Spain before hitting Girona. The last ride was a loop to the Mediterranean that was a nice way to finish a tour, but probably not the best choice of road in the middle of summer. We live, we learn…we hope.