St Jean Pied de Port - Ride 3. Col de Landerre, Col d'Apanice, Col de Burdinkurutxeta. Video.

85.1km, 2099m. Col de Landerre, Col d'Apanice (almost Ahusquy) & Col de Burdinkurutxeta

Of course Liz was right.

This was our third day riding. But the first ride had been so un-memorable I can be excused my forgetfulness.

Around here Cols have several names; French, Basque and the generic name by which the whole mountain is known.

So what appears on one map does not exactly match what appears on another.  

What's more, because the road might pass below the true col, it can be tricky to work out when you've reached (or passed) the road col for which you're aiming.

You can feel an excuse taking shape here, can't you?

A fairly level road ride warmed our legs this morning, then at the first mountain village, wham!

A cow-jam during rush hour
The road reared up and we dropped to the lowest gear.

We also encountered a cattle-traffic-jam, a herd being moved to higher pasture, but we're escorted through by the lads with sticks.

This was a steep climb, but rewarded with great valley views from near the first Col de Landerre.

This wasn't an open ridge like yesterday, but a twisting, turning thing with gusty wind swirling from several directions at once.

An interpretive sign beside the road indicated that an unprepossessing hole was, in fact, the deepest shaft in France. 

It was at the road junction on top of the Col d'Apanice I made my mistake.

We descended a short way towards the Col d'Ahusquy when, misreading the map, I concluded that the Ahusquy was lower than the Apanice, and as our return route started at the Apanice, we'd have to loose and regain height.

I was wrong, and as a result, missed out on another 'tick'.

A fast descent down a quiet road took us close to where the day's climbing began.

Liz decided she'd had enough and sensibly headed home. I felt there were more miles in my legs yet, so tackled the first of the 'tour' climbs on our journey so far, the Col de Burdinkurutxeta.

My God it's steep.  I know I already done a Col, but there were places where I wondered whether I could get up the thing.

This was the first col we'd encountered on this trip with distance and gradient signs along its length.

Except these are slightly misleading. They appear to describe a climb of the Col d'Iraty, and I wondered whether this was yet another name for the Burdinkurutxeta.

It's not.  I now think it's another name for another col, the Bagargui, and the signs mark a long climb of it as part of the ColS d'Iraty. 

Which I did not do as I wouldn't be able to get back again.

Not realising this at the time, I had prepared myself for 17km of climbing.  I was therefore overjoyed to pop out at the top of the Burdinkurutxeta, the col I was aiming for, after just 9km.

It is a climb of two halves; a steep climb (11% ish) to the Col d'Haltza, then a gentle ridge rise, before a final steep kick.

I met a local rider at the top. "It's hard, isn't it", he said. I couldn't help but agree.

That ride brought our time in St Jean Pied de Port to a close.

I could have stayed longer, as there were more climbs to tackle such as the Bagargui (or Iraty).

But with Lee Marvin singing "Wandering Star" playing on the iPod, we felt it was time to move on.

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