What is the Raid Pyrenees and the History of the route?
The route of the Raid crosses the Pyrenees and can start from the town of Hendaye on the Atlantic Coast crossing the Pyrenees to Cerbere on the Mediterranean. The route takes you over many of the cols including the Tourmalet, Aubisque, Aspin, Portet d’Aspet and Peyresourde with around 11000metres of climbing the route.
Crossing the Pyrenees in the Raid as part of an official organised cycling event is a difficult undertaking, however it also gives you the opportunity to ride most of the famous cols of the Tour de France. These Cols are steeped in history as the route passes through Pyrenees Atlantique, Aquitaine, Hautes Garonne, Hautes Pyrenees, and Ariege to the finish in the Pyrenees Orientale.
The idea of a crossing of the Pyrenees was first thought up by a French cyclist Maurice Bugard in 1912 a young cyclist from the Cyclo Club Bearnaise and the dream was to cross the Pyrenees from the Ocean to the Sea. The first inception of the Raid was first called Randonnee Pyreneen, it was based around a set itenery of different mountainous terrain and gradients of mountain roads and so the set figures of, 18 cols 720 km, for 11000 metres.
The proposal was deemed too audacious at the time and then shelved for years until the end of the 2 wars that had waged throughout France and Europe. In 1949, Paul Mathis resurrected the project of Maurice Bugard, and designed the Routier Pyreneen a pre-cursor to the Raid.
He looked to do the premier traverse through the mountains from Hendaye-Cerbere in the month of June that year. The route was difficult and he never got beyond the Col du Marie Blanque due to snow still blocking the route he returned home to the Bearnaise countryside to plan for another attempt. In 1950, Mathis, accompanied by Miss Betbeder was to cross from the East of the Pyrenees to west the opposite way he had tried in 1949. Again in June they departed as it says in their diary with tenacity, guile and the patience of the Bearnaise they would arrive victorious in the town of Hendaye. Mathis again passed back across the Mountains in 1951 from west to east him being the first person to traverse the route from both directions. In the winter of 51-52 Paul Mathis decided the official route through the Pyrenees should have certain points to stop for confirmation on the route to verify every individuals crossing and in the spring of 1952 the official organisation was formed the Raid Pyreneen.
All persons wanting to cross would be given the 18 cols to climb in any order via the shortest route of 720kms. This is still carried on today and the official documentation has to be ordered a month in advance of the raid. In the words of the Raid Pyrenees. After the solitude of the Soulor through the circle of death the cols of the Ariegeois, the valleys and the Gaves will give you memories that will always have a certain place within your heart, the Cerdagne and, Mont-Louis, the son of the area, will open the doors into the Catalan region.
The long days of riding, your team and their spirit everyday will not disguise the pain, suffering, effort and action you put in to achieve your mission but will give you some fantastic memories that will stay with you forever.
Who can take Part?
The environment of cycling through the Pyrenees is a tough undertaking and the riders that take part are regularly training for 8-10 hours per week. Most of our clients ride on a regular basis with the CTC or cycling club some will have done cyclosportives or long distance Audax cycling events. However if you have never cycled you can find a coach here who can transform you from a non cyclist into a rider that can undertake the Raid within 6-8 months.
The aim of the Raid is to complete it our daily routes are set down in the official Carnet de Route / Route guide, you will also be accompanied by a guide to help you navigate and encourage you to get across the mountains in the set times. The guide is there to pace the group and ensure no-one is left behind we do not need to cycle fast in order to manage the daily routes and time limits. With our service vehicle for support, we are happy for you to take as long as it takes to do each days route, and we will give you all the support and back-up that you need. All you need to do is eat, drink, cycle and sleep - we will do the rest!
Contact us by phone or email with any questions we can advise you on fitness levels on clothing gear ratios and other equipment. All the hotels we use cater for various dietary requirements. We use small friendly and family run hotels that we know and have previously used and understand our needs regarding cyclists.
We limit our group sizes to minimum of 6 and a maximum of 16 so you get the benefits of being with enough other cyclists to find others of the same abilities who cycle at your pace. But we also pride ourselves on our individuality and get to know anyone else in the group; your leaders will know where and when you will need that extra bit of encouragement. We expect the group to be of mixed abilities but still offer everyone the same, high level of support. It also means that in the case of any emergencies or mechanicals, our van is placed at various points where we know you will be in need of a refill of water or an energy bar.
Food and Fuel.
The evening’s meals will be taken together either at the hotel or a suitable restaurant in town. A 3 course evening meal is included.
We know that the hotels and restaurants offer only best local produce. Vegetarian options are offered daily and other dietary requirements are not a problem to us. Local dishes are sometimes on the menu but then the Hotels work to the seasons and what is available to them, Pasta nearly always features on the Menu. Along the way you can sample some fine Pyrenean cuisine, Garbure is one of those hearty vegetable soups made with Tarbais beans and fortified with ham hock. Toulouse cassoulet with pork, sausage and goose a very rich meaty stew. Four different types of cheeses Ossau, Iraty, Val D'Aran & Bigorre. Desserts include egg batter, open fire, spit cooked gateau Brioche rum and orange sponge.
Local wines include Madiran, St Mont, Jurancon and Pacherenc. Vegetarians are welcome and will be looked after very well. Cereal/energy bars, cakes, bananas and other snacks for during the day are included and will be distributed by the support van. We have our own energy powders/gels/bars to keep you supplied en route although we do have our own. Breakfast is based around a continental style with cereals and museli but designed to give you enough energy to undertake each days ride.
Transport to the Pyrenees?
The trip starts at Biarritz airport and ends at Perpignan airport. Ryanair provide a reasonably priced flight service between London Stansted and both these airports. If booked in advance flights should be relatively inexpensive. Minibus transfers (30 minutes and 80 minutes respectively) are arranged to tie in with the recommended flights.
Ryan Air charges have changed for the carriage of a bike and do have a limited number of spaces for bikes on each flight (see www.ryanair.com. for more information).
Coach travel:- Bike Express is also another good way of getting to the Pyrenees although takes slightly longer!
Flights are not included. But the information on getting here as follows. But afternoon transfers from Biarritz and Perpignan are included as part of the trip.
Ryanair from London Stansted, Charleroi, Manchester T3 or Dublin to Biarritz (the start) and the return from Perpignan to London Stansted, Charleroi, Dublin or Liverpool.
Easyjet from London Gatwick to Biarritz transfers to Hendaye for the start.
Cityjet.com from London City to Pau to Biarritz transfers to Hendaye for the start.
Flybe.com the return from Perpignan to Birmingham, Edinburgh, Glasgow Intl, Inverness, Southampton, Channel Islands Jersey.
We can also arrange transfers from Toulouse at an extra cost number of people required.
We are able to give lots of help and advice in sorting out which travel arrangements might suit you best, so please don't hesitate to contact us for some advice and other information we have on how to get here.
Please see the prices section for more information or the links page for airlines, airport transfers or taking the train from the UK.
Please when booking flights book to arrive after 1400 please email to confirm if earlier pick ups are available.
720kms total and 11,000 metres of climbing there are other cols on this trip and can be done along the way, that is if you want to do more.
Our package includes:-
The tour does not include:-
Official Raid Pyrenees (Dates signify arrival and departure days)
26 May - 1 June 2-8 June
9-15 June 16-22 June
23-29 June 25-31 Aug
1-7 Sept 8-14 Sept
15-21 Sept 22-28 Sept
29 Sept - 5 Oct 6-12 Oct
€1095.00 Euro £985.00 Sterling Single Suppl €180.00 Euro £135.00 Sterling
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