St Jean Pied de Port - Ride 2. Video.

RIDE 2 Col d'Arnosteguy, Col d'Elhursaro 52.4km, 1404m

The vultures circling overhead were rather disconcerting. Our first Col ride out of St Jean and we had these big boys for company. They may not be "Griffin" as I say in the video (or for that matter any other type of vulture) because we later discovered there are many huge raptors around here.

This clockwise circuit was a lovely, lovely ride.

Height is gained through quiet villages on quiet roads, then beneath shady trees.

Far nicer and less draining than yesterday's valley ride.

A long sweeping curve takes you from a false col to the real Col d'Arnosteguy, and along the way you can see across the head of the valley to the opposite ridge down which you'll descend.

If ridge-walking is the best type of hiking, this is cycling's equivalent.

Suddenly there are loads of people with packs, Pilgrims heading for Santiago de Compostella in northern Spain.

You meet them at Col d'Elhursaro near the end of their first physical test, the long road walk out of St Jean up to the border ridge with Spain.

You'll pass the track by which they leave the road and along which I rode my laden mountain bike when I followed their route more than twenty years ago.

In those days, around 200 people a year followed the Way of St James.  Now there are more than 40,000, according to one American pilgrim we met.

A feature film as a lot to do with the increased popularity.

Way back in 1990, the only guidebook I could find was in Spanish and Cicerone subsequently rejected my suggestion of an English language guide to the route.

I should have self-published, but only vanity motivated authors did such things in those days.

An enterprising soul has set up a cafe in a van near here dispensing cold drinks and encouragement.

We're now heading with gravity, against the flow, slaloming pilgrims as we drop down this lovely remote valley.

There is an alternative descent but it leads to a busy road, and anyway, I wanted to show Liz what I'd ridden up all those years ago.

What's this about? We took our campervan down the Pyrenees this summer, riding classic cols and hiking great walks. Now I'm sharing the info about best campsites for the best rides.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Look like lamagia Simon, cheers Tonyp