Planning the 'Coasts and Cols Tour'
In fact, this route has been plotted for many years. It is a touring trip idea that enters my mind whenever I see Grand Tour coverage from the Pyrenees; or photos of France's beautifully barren west coast; or images of secluded roads twisting through the Bretagne region. I have been plotting the route of my 'Coasts and Cols Tour', for some time.
The idea is relatively simple. No planes, no cars, no trains; just a boat and a bike. I'll board the ferry in Portsmouth, and cross to Santander on the north coast of Spain. Rolling off the boat, I'll head south east; over the Sierra de Urbasa, and towards the Pyrenees.
On reaching the iconic mountain range, which separates France from Spain, I'll traverse south east. As I go, I'll tick through a list of Cols: including famous names like the Tourmalet, Aubisque and Peyresourde; as well as less well known climbs, such as the Col de la Pierre St. Martin, and the Col de Portet d'Aspet.
I will leave the mountain range just north of Andorra, and head towards the walled city of Carcassonne. Just south of the city, a good friend of mine, Gus, has taken ownership of a stunning french townhouse. After my traverse of the Pyrenees, I'll take a few days rest with him; to recuperate and reflect.
On leaving Carcassonne, I'll head north west; towards Toulouse. From there, I'll pick up the Garonne river, and follow the river valley all the way to the western coast, and the city of Bordeaux.
From Bordeaux, it will be onwards to La Rochelle; then up into the Bretagne region, and its beautiful rolling hills. Then, heading due north, I'll finally reach my return transport to the UK; in the form of the St. Malo ferry.
On my current mapping, the route will be around 1800 kilometres, with around 27,000 metres of ascent. With a planned nine days of riding, it equates to an average of 200km per day.
The aim is to ride the tour on the Kona Private Jake; equipped with bikepacking luggage and front panniers. I will go into far more depth on the kit I will be taking, in later blogs; but in short, I'll be carrying a tent, cooking equipment and sleeping kit; as I plan to wild-camp for the majority of the time.
It is set to be an adventure; and a challenge, of genuinely mountainous proportions.
Stay tuned for more updates, coming soon...