Jerry’s Tour of the Pyrenées, Cantabria and Asturias – Wednesday July 13th

Lourdes — Col des Bescuns — Louvie-Juzon — Col du Pourtalet — Jaca — Estacion de Canfranc (173 km, 2698m, 20-40C)

Col du Pourtalet

So the second part of the cycling adventure started. I was still feeling a bit worn down from the previous weeks of cycling and the race, but it was a fine day again and I started out by collecting some small passes on my way out of Lourdes to Louvie-Juzon. I went around Lourdes via Aspin-en-Lavedan and Omex. This road passes Col des Bescuns (515) before leading to just west of Lourdes and is a very nice road choice that lets you escape Lourdes, if coming toward Lourdes from Col de Lingous or from the south. (A little gravel road close to this road took me in a few hundred metres to the pass La Courade (470).)

I went down toward west and at Pont de Grottes (305) went up the road to the Grottes (they advertise all around for), which is up an obscure and pretty bad asphalt road with no tourists (only saw the tourist bus driver driving his empty bus). After a steepish end an almost invisible road goes down and this is semi-paved and soon gets you up to the nearby farmland, where you meet the col Cot de Belloc (425). Then down to Arthez-d'Asson (360) (you will have to guess and improvise here as a description would be long and probably misguiding, just do not take the first one down the hills). I came out just where I aimed at across a tiny bridge which should be the southernmost way down there. Then continue south to Arthez-d'Asson and at the village take right up another tiny road.

Here I am not totally certain what way I actually took (I walked on a path/track around farmland toward the hillside, which I had thought should be a good short-cut, but I am not so sure it was …). Before getting down the concrete road to this path I should have come to Cot de Tisnes (475) and soon after reaching tarmac again I should have arrived at Cot de Hosse (452) and then met Col des Bouts (421) on a bigger road leading to the main road to Louvie-Juzon (407). These cryptic road choices took some time and I had lunch at Louvie-Juzon, where I had some fried Chorizo and a beer.

Escarilla

I was getting tired of crossing obscure cols now and just wanted to get going to the first (and only, it turned out) main pass for the day – Col du Pourtalet (1794). This is the highest paved crossing to Spain westward from here (with some metres). The road up to the Portalet is very easy and constantly about 5%, with only one little steep section just when reaching a dam. But then the road was much longer instead. It is a decently nice road and it is not too heavily trafficked.

I had a photo at the top which was a rather scenic place. On the spanish side I met with heavy road work and hot weather. After the road work the road was wide and good though and the obvious reason for this is the big ski resort area below the pass – El Formigal. when I reached the plains down the valley it got very hot. I tried to keep a good speed to Jaca, but the stretch was really draining the power from me and the area was not very nice.

It took some time before I got into the city of Jaca, which is located on a small hill. I found a posh looking pizzeria restaurant (should have chosen a less nice looking one in retrospect) and had a pizza and beer. I then continued up the next valley toward Puerto de Somport, but I was already a bit late. Soon it even got a bit chilly and in the deep valley the sun sets no later than 7 pm every day.

I was thinking of staying in Canfranc, which I had thought was the last village to stay at before the pass, but there I could not find any place to stay, cycling through the cobblestone road filled with cow dung. I continued and thought that maybe, maybe I could get over the pass if I do not find anything before – the main problem was that I was getting very tired (mostly due to the temperature shifts). However, I soon reached Estacion de Canfranc, which is a train station (looks rather big and charming) that is the last station before the railroad goes into a tunnel under the pass. (I guess the station was built partly to serve ski tourists in Winter time.)

I found a good and friendly (somewhat big) hotel where I stayed the night. I had something to eat at the local restaurant, where locals threw everything to the floor that came into their hands as Spanish traditions have it ;-).


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