The Big Ride. The Adventure. The Escape. The Ultimate Kit Test. In this post, staff rider Tim introduces his plans for his bikepacking trip, this September. It has fairly 'epic' proportions…
The 'Coasts and Cols' Tour - The Inspiration
The inspiration for my 'Coasts and Cols' tour came from a number of sources… I've grown up on the coast, but I also love the mountains; so it seemed logical to include both in a touring trip route.
There was more to it than that, though. There was a desire to explore new roads; a desire to test body, bike and kit - more than ever before; a desire to take the road less travelled.
The 1,900 kilometre route, with 28,000 metres of climbing, spread over 9.5 days of riding, will be a challenge. It means an average of 200 kilometres (125 miles) a day, on a fully loaded cyclocross bike; up and over the Pyrenees mountain range.
The 'Coasts and Cols' Tour will be a genuinely 'epic' adventure, for me…
The 'Coasts and Cols' Tour - The Route
The tour will start after a normal working day at Wiggle HQ. From our offices in Portsmouth, I'll head straight to the Brittany Ferries terminal; then jump on the overnight ferry, to Santander, Spain.
The Spanish coast will be where the adventure really starts. I don't plan to hang around long on the northern Biscay coast though; as my route takes me south east - inland, through the mountains of the Basque country, and onwards towards the Pyrenees.
The elevation profile fast becomes a series of jagged teeth and troughs, as I head closer to the mountains that divide France and Spain.
It wouldn't be fair to call this a 'Cols' tour, if it didn't feature some big climbs, so here's the list:
- Puerto de Alisas (Spain) - 17.1 km - 627 m
- Alto de Dima (Spain) - 10.4 km - 510 m
- Alto de Orhy (Spain) - 18.7 km - 781 m
- Port Larrau (France) - 10.0 km - 650 m
- Col de Marie Blanque (France) - 9.1 km - 713 m
- Col d'Aubisque (France) - 12.0 km - 919 m
- Col du Tourmalet (France) - 20.8 km - 1,441 m
- Col d'Apsin (France) - 12.5 km - 637 m
- Col de Peyresourde (France) - 9.4 km - 641 m
- Col de Mente (France) - 9.9 km - 853 m
- Col de Portet d'Aspet (France) - 4.4 km - 433 m
- Col du Port (France) - 12.3 km - 595 m
By the time I've ticked through all of that list, I'll have traversed most of the Pyrenean mountain range; exiting just north of Andorra.
Descending into the rolling foothills, I head to Carcassonne; for what I am sure will be a much needed rest-day. I will attempt to recoup and relax, ahead of the next 'Stage'.
From Carcassonne, it's time to head north. I'll join the river valley that passes through Toulouse, and then takes me all the way to the Bordeaux coast. From Bordeaux to Mont St. Michel; then onwards up the west coast, and into the Bretagne region.
Finally, I will pull up in the port of St. Malo, on the English Channel; the last coast of the tour, and the departure point of my ferry home.
The 'Coasts and Cols' Tour, features seaside roads and summits aplenty.
The 'Coasts and Cols' Tour - The Kit
I'll be completing the tour on my Kona Private Jake; equipped with slick tyres, a front pannier rack, and bikepacking seat pack. Read my blog profile of this bike here.
I'm going to save my full kit list for another 'Big Kit Layout' post; but the equipment features the best of lightweight riding and touring apparel and accessories that Wiggle sells.
To name a few items in the line-up: I'll be using bags from Restrap, accessories from Lezyne, a tent and jacket from Kathmandu, camping kit from Lifeventure, Lifesystems, JetBoil, Mountain Hardwear and Nordisk, and bike spares from Lifeline. My riding kit will come from Castelli (a brand that I have been 'Living with' this season); as well as kit from Gore Bike Wear, dhb, and accessories from GripGrab.
Watch this space for the full kit choice low-down, and more details on the tour…
Follow the hashtag #coastsandcols for social media updates