The High Col Challenge
Holidays are organised on a private group basis and you can select your preferred dates.
- 5 night guided Pyrenees cycling holiday
- Challenge yourself on the Col du Tourmalet and Col d’Aubisque
- Circuit passing through both the French and Spanish Pyrenees
- Full supported with bike guide and vehicle
- Private groups with flexible dates for friends or cycling clubs – minimum group size just 4 people
Taking in nine of the classic cols of the Pyrenees our High Cols Challenge features some of the best cycling to be found in Europe. A circular route passing through both France and Spain you’ll have spectacular scenery and tough cycling throughout your trip. The Pyrenees has classic cycling terrain – big tough climbs with superb views to accompany you.
The tour is fully supported with both a guide on a bike and a support vehicle with a bike mechanic. Energy gels, drinks and snacks will be waiting for you at the top of each col and in case of any mechanical difficulties the support vehicle will always be close at hand to provide assistance. You can bring your own bike or bike hire is available.
The guides are locally based English speaking guides who’ve been climbing these cols since they were young and know the route like the back of their hands.
This is a challenging trip for fit cyclists that want to test themselves against some of the most famous climbs of the Tour de France.
This is the standard route however we can tailor the itinerary to either shorten or lengthen the days. Additional nights can also be added as from Biescas, Argeles Gazost and Arreau there are lots of other routes we can do such as Hautacam.
As the holiday is organised for private groups you can select dates to suit and can start and end on any day.
Day 1 – Arrive Biescas
Arrive in Biescas from Zaragoza. Included transfers are from either Zaragoza train station or airport. Transfers from Barcelona can also be arranged at additional cost.
Day 2 – Biescas to Argeles-Gazost via Col de Aubisque and Col de Soulor
78km, 1595m ascent
Today we head from Biescas into France. To make the day more manageable we’ll take a lift in the van to the top of the Col de Portalet on the French border (optionally you can choose to cycle this if the group is very strong). We then head east climbing the legendary Col de Aubisque (1703m, category 1 climb) and Col de Soulor (1461m, category 4 climb). The scenery is simply stunning throughout the day and this is a days cycling you’ll never forget. If you arrive in Argéles Gazost with anything left in the tank there’s always the option to end the day with an ascent of Hautacam (special category climb) widely regarded as one of the toughest climbs of the Tour. Night in Argeles Gazost.
Day 3 – Argèles-Gazost to Arreu via Col de Tormalet and Col de Aspin
94km, 2614m ascent
Today your legs are going to be put to work! After a gentle start to the day to Luz St. Sauveur we begin to climb the Col de Tormalet (2113m) ranked as a special category climb. 20km of steep climbing (between 7% and 10%) but you’ll have superb views to accompany you the whole way.
After Tormalet we’ll tackle the Col de Aspin (1418m, category 2 climb) before a beautiful descent down to the village of Arreau where we spend the night.
Day 4 – Arreu to Ainsa via Col de Bielsa and Valle de Pineta
99km, 1596m ascent
Our route today takes us back into Spain and we start with the category 1 climb up to the Bielsa tunnel. Here we group up and ride in the support van through the 3km tunnel before descending into Spain. There is an optional (but highly recommended) side trip into the Pineta Valley (category 3 climb) – a spectacular kilometre deep glacial valley. The days ends in the historic town of Ainsa.
Day 5 – Ainsa to Biescas via the Añisclo Canyon, Col de Fanlo and Col de Cotefablo
83km, 2121m ascent
Following the southern edge of the Ordesa National Park we have another spectacular days ride ahead. Cliffs tower over us as we wind through the Desfiladero de las Cambras to the entrance of the Añisclo Canyon which is another kilometre deep canyon and one of the deepest in Europe. From here we start climbing the category 1 Col de Fanlo. Passing by the entrance to the Ordesa Canyon we tackle the category 2 climb of Cotefablo – the final pass of the trip before a chilled descent to Biescas for a final night in the 4* Hotel Tierra de Biescas where our legs can recover in the sauna!
Day 6 – Morning in Biescas and departure
Free time in Biescas before the transfer to Zaragoza train station or airport.
Photos taken on the Pyrenees High Cols Challenge route
Pyrenees High Cols Challenge
Private group trips
The Pyrenees High Cols Challenge can be run on any dates for private groups of friends. Trips can be organised for groups from 4 people upwards. The itinerary can be tailored to suit the level of the group and additional days can be added to climb Hautacam or one of the other great cols in the area or for a rest day.
The earliest the holiday can run is June 15th due as before then some of the higher cols are still closed due to snow.
Private group tour
The prices for private group cycle tours depend on the number of people in the party:
Group size 4-6: 1399 € per person
Group size 6-9 : 1299 € per person
For larger groups of 10+ please contact us for a quote.
Prices are based on two people sharing a double or twin room. If cyclists would like a single room then the single supplement is 125 € per single room.
Bike hire for 5 days
Bikes are BH Quartz 105 – lightweight carbon bikes with Shimano 105 groupset.
Bike’s need to be booked in advance. We’ll contact you for your measurements so we can reserve a bike of the correct size. Please bring your own cycling shoes and pedals so that we an be sure your pedals and shoes are compatible. On the first evening we’ll mount the pedals, adjust the bike to your size and go on a short test cycle to check the set up is OK before heading out.
5 nights accommodation:
2 x 4* Hotel Tierra de Biescas, 1 x either Hotel Les Cimes or Hotel Primrose, 1 x Hotel L’Anglaterre, 1 x Hotel Sanchez
Breakfast each morning.
Gels and snacks each during the ride.
3 course evening meals each night.
Pyrenees High Col Challenge maillot/cycling jersey
Transfers to and from either Zaragoza airport or train station (including bikes if you are bringing your own).
Bike guide plus support vehicle for the group.
Luggage transfer between hotels.
Flights, insurance, drinks with evening meal, price of spare parts if any repairs are needed.
Getting to the Pyrenees
From the UK
There are direct flights from London Stansted to Zaragoza. You can also fly to Barcelona or Madrid and can catch the AVE fast train to Zaragoza. We pick up at both the train station and the airport.
From outside Europe
Most of our guests from outside of Europe fly via Barcelona or Madrid, combing a stay in one of these two excellent cities with their walking holiday. From either city there are excellent rail links to Zaragoza.
See more travel options and details on our getting here page.
All hotels cater for cyclists with secure bike storage and areas to clean your bike and carry out any maintenance at the end of the day. Double, twin or single rooms are available at each hotel (single rooms with a single room supplement).
4* Hotel Tierra de Biescas
The four star Hotel Tierra de Biescas is in the heart of the old village, set in lovely grounds with an indoor and outdoor pool. This is where you’ll spend the first and final nights of your trip. Each of it’s 51 stylishly furnished rooms have an en-suite bathroom. It has a bar, lounge area with sofa’s, a restaurant and gardens with loungers and tables.
Each morning a breakfast buffet is served with cooked and continental options. Three course evening meals are taken in the hotel restaurant with a choice of starters, main courses and dessert. Please note wine is not included. Guests can relax in the the hotel’s spa facilities which include a small indoor swimming pool and sauna. A full range of massage treatments are available. In July and August the outdoor swimming pool is open.
Read more about Hotel Tierra de Biescas.
Argèles-Gazost – either Hotel Primrose or Hotel Les Cimes
Depending on availability we’ll stay at one of these two hotels both of which specialise for cyclists.They serve special cyclists breakfasts to make sure you’ve enough fuel to get up the Tourmalet. Both have secure bike storage and areas to clean and maintain bikes. Hotel Les Cimes also has an indoor pool to rest your tired legs in. The restaurants at both hotels are excellent – well they are in France!
Hotel d’Anglaterre – Arreu
A lovely family run hotel with an outdoor pool (open July and August) and well designed rooms. There is bike storage, gardens, bar and a restaurant where we’ll take our evening meal.
Hotel Sanchez – Ainsa
Ainsa is a beautiful medieval town and is regularly voted as one of the prettiest villages in Spain. Hotel Sanchez has modern rooms with a lively bar and restaurant downstairs.
Frequently asked questions
Where do you pick up from?
Which meals are included in the price?
How fit do I need to be and how much training should I do?
What dates do you run this trip on?
The High Cols Challenge
Holidays are organised on a private group basis and you can selectyour preferred dates.