TOURMALET - 2115 m
Start 1. Luz St.Sauveur
Access 1. Tarbes - Lourdes - Argeles
Start 2. Santa Marie de Campan
Access 2. Tarbes - Bagneres de Bigorre
Side Luz St.Sauveur
This historic mountain is, from this side, very regular. Their 18km start at Luz quite hard, at 7%. The gradient is very constant, and the road, wide, straight, eternal, even boring. And like this for 7km, until you get to Bareges, small village where the climb turns into something different.
After Bareges, it's a hell. Still 6km to top
Suddenly, we leave Bareges with a nice 12% section, and then it comes the easiest part with 1km at 6%. It's a shadow of what's still to be done. The road, quite narrow now, climbing towards right, entering a huge U, where the gradient reaches a critical 9%. After that, still 6km to go, very hard, at 8-9%, hard to see, because the summit is in your field of view, and the climb never ends. The last km is the toughest, at10%, but now nothing can't stop us.
Nino at 3km to go. Not done yet
Climb with magnetic fields, since Bareges the road is quite bad, and a 39x23 mwans you're fit. Starting is really boring, but the second half is superb, and the downhill, spectacular.
Side Santa Marie de Campan
The most famous side, don't know if the hardest, starts soft at the historic village of St.Marie de Campan with 3 peaceful kilometers, until Gripp, where the real climb begins, with almost 14km to climb without relax. Riding through a nice forest, we start gaining meters at 7'5-9%, in a section where you start fresh but finish quite frustrated.
Nino & Lucas starting their challenge at 2003
Then we ride towards left, until a U-turn which drives us directly to the famous tunnels. We're still at 8km to the top, and still looking for a soft section to breathe, 8-9%.
Before the tunnels...and after them
After the tunnels, we reach La Mongie, surely the most important part of the climb with its 13% section.
Last 5km, height almost 2000m...but still the same gradient, and the surface quite poor, at 8-9'5% until the top, always riding very slow.
Last bend and...done!!!
The mountain which everyone knows, is not the toughest, but has something special. The history in these kind of places is very important, that's why the photo up there is so worthy. Since Gripp, you feel forced to 39x23, but at La Mongie, the 25 becomes necessary. Right, now, 1h20' is my best...but everytime I've climbed this side I've done 70km before...so hope I'll do it quicker next year. You're not a grimpeur if you've not done it.
4 climbs. One left for a 'give-me-5'