The Pyrenees are infinite, says the French high mountain guide Remi Thivel, a professional mountaineer who now combines climbing and pannier biking. And you don’t need to constantly travel to the Alps or the Himalayas to feel more like a climber: in the Pyrenean valleys, both to the south and north of the mountain range, you are able to find the doses of solitude, adventure and commitment that you have always sought. . Discovering the Pyrenees from west to east should be a mandatory pilgrimage on foot, by car or by bicycle. But to travel at the right speed, the one that allows you to move forward without losing the details of the landscape, of local life, of changes in scenery, there is nothing like a bicycle.
Last week the thirteenth edition of the Deporvillage Transpyr Coast to Coast was presented in Girona, one of the ten most important and beautiful stage races open to any cycling fan (and it is not necessarily competitive) on the planet. The event has seven stages (between June 11 and 17) and on this occasion maintains the route launched in 2021 that links the municipalities of Saint Jean de Luz, Saint Jean Pied de Port, Oloron Sainte Marie, Bagnères de Bigorre, Vielha, La Seu d’Urgell, Camprodon and Roses until adding more than 800 kilometers and 18,000 meters of positive slope. The event starts in the Cantabrian Sea and ends on the shores of the Mediterranean, offering in between an endless number of orographic contrasts that allow us to discover and understand the richness of the Pyrenean world.
Transpyr deserves international attention, and for this reason half of its participants are foreigners convinced by an open and varied proposal. Here you can pedal a road bike, along a selection of paved mountain routes that are as aesthetic as they are little frequented, linking mythical mountain passes from the history of cycling; or by mountain bike, linking tracks and trails, valleys and peaks. But there is also a place for electric mountain bikes, with a partially adapted route so that no one has to get off and push it on the more technical uphill sections (they are much heavier than traditional machines): it is the most conservative option for a It is a physically demanding event in which some seek the sporting challenge and others the simple experience of discovering new horizons. Despite everything, the organization recalls that “the event is reserved for people with a high physical and mental preparation, capable of facing an average of 105 kilometers a day and around 2,500 meters of positive elevation gain.”
Henri Lesewitz, editor of Bike Delius Klassing magazine, claims to have participated “in stage races all over the world, in Mongolia, South Africa, America…” Lesewitz claims that “none is like the Transpyr, because it is a special mix of travel of great distance and race of great demand. The Transpyr is mythical because it offers extreme climbs, technical descents and fun trails. You have everything that mountain biking represents here concentrated in one week”.
This year, the participants who choose the Backroads road bike modality will find a new incentive to toughen the already demanding track even more. At each stage of the route that runs along the French slope, they will be able to face the ‘challenge of the day’, that is, the timed ascent to a port each day. It has been baptized as Challenge Octave, a tribute to Octave Lapize, the first cyclist who crowned the Tourmalet on July 21, 1910, during the first edition of the Tour.
Sports bicycle tourism is struggling to become one of the most reliable alternatives to winter or ski resort tourism. No one now denies the negative influence of climate change on the business of the stations, which feed numerous local families and different business models. But these prove, however, that the seasons wane year after year harmed by increasingly higher temperatures and less abundant snowfall. Anticipating the change in trend, several French Pyrenean valleys have turned towards two-wheel tourism, clinging to the tourist attraction of the Tour de France, an alternative that seeks to seasonally adjust tourism in these enclaves. On this side of the border, the same goal is pursued, in combination with hiking and all the activities related to the world of mountains that can be imagined and that are capable of attracting sports tourism.
The participants do not pedal loaded with anything that is not absolutely essential to complete each stage and follow the route through GPS, finding several solid and liquid refreshment points along the way, served by the organization, which is also in charge of managing the transfer of personal belongings and offers accommodation options in the towns where each day ends. Participants in the electric bicycle modality will even have a spare battery at the points assigned by the organization. The organization has already launched the registration period on its website, Transpyr.com.
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Source: EL PAIS