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Traverses in the Pyrenees — Bikepacking from Zero Neuf Cycling

Simon Rosmolen

Traverses in the Pyrenees — Bikepacking from Zero Neuf Cycling

Bike Touring Collection by Simon Rosmolen

6

Tours

30:13 h

275 mi

31,175 ft

It is May 2021 and we’ve been living in France for six months. After a strange winter season with few tourists, we’re getting ready for summer in the French Alps. To get inspiration for our cycling hotel in Puy Saint Vincent, Anne and I decided to visit other cycling-specific accommodation in France in our spare time. One of the places we’ve had our eye on for some time is Zero Neuf Cycling at the foot of the French Pyrenees. After the French lockdown was lifted in early May, we packed our gear and drove to Gaudiès for a bikepacking trip in the area.

On arrival, we were warmly welcomed by Joss and Mike and found Zero Neuf to be utterly enchanting. The accommodation is surrounded by rolling farmland, with the snowy peaks of the Pyrenees on the horizon. The building looks like a traditional French gîte, with white plastered walls overgrown with grapevines and those classic blue shutters on the windows. The garden is neatly tended and the chickens scratch around peacefully.

Once inside, you’re surrounded by cycling relics, such as numbers, cycling shirts and old bicycle frames on the wall. The bookcases and shelves are full of bike-related books and large coffee table books draw the eye. It’s easy to see that Joss' hobby is scouring flea markets and refurbishing furniture: there is no lack of attention and detail.

It is cosy and you feel at home here immediately, especially as a cyclist. We had a beer with Joss and Mike and they showed us the bedrooms. We had the shared flat to ourselves, as we were the only ones in Zero Neuf due to the many travel restrictions. In the evening, we sat down to a delicious meal prepared by Joss while Mike gave us a few tips for our bikepacking trip the next morning.

On the agenda was a route that Zero Neuf created together with my colleague Katherine Moore: a traverse through the Ariège Pyrenees over mainly unpaved roads, singletracks and hiking trails. We decided to faithfully follow this two-day route to its end. But we still had more time, so we decided to plan the route further ourselves from there, depending on the terrain and the weather forecast.

What followed was a six-day bikepacking trip from Zero Neuf through different parts of the Pyrenees. From the Ariège Pyrenees, across the Spanish border and up to the Catalan Pyrenees. It turned out to be a memorable trip, in which you can safely say that we were one with the elements. On several occasions, the terrain and weather conditions made it extremely difficult for us but that’s exactly what makes bikepacking so special for us.

On The Map

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Tours & Highlights

  • 03:32
    34.9 mi
    9.9 mph
    2,850 ft
    2,400 ft

    Packing the bags for the first time always takes a little longer with us. So after a good coffee we only got on our bikes around 11.30am. Heading south, towards the mountains. We were looking forward to it and the conditions were perfect; tailwind on flat gravel roads through the countryside. With the white peaks of the Pyrenees on the horizon. It was warm and the sun was shining brightly. Our vacation had begun.

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  • 05:15
    41.1 mi
    7.8 mph
    6,575 ft
    5,350 ft

    Waking up after a rainy night is never fun. Especially if the rain continues and you still have to pack the tent. Fortunately it is not cold. We don't have much with us, so we packed up quickly and quickly jumped on the bike.Our goal for the morning was to score a good coffee and bread at a bakery …

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  • 05:04
    43.6 mi
    8.6 mph
    5,425 ft
    4,725 ft

    It was Saturday morning, market in Ax-les-Thermes. We got fresh cheese, charcuterie, bread, sweets for coffee and dried fruit. With our feet in the warm water of one of the public thermal baths, I planned a new route.We were guided by the sun and the weather forecast and decided to continue south. Curious about the border, the Spanish sun …

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  • 05:55
    37.7 mi
    6.4 mph
    7,125 ft
    6,650 ft

    Today the queen stage was on the program. We knew it was going to be a tough day. The plan was a climb over asphalt to 2100 meters, followed by an unpaved transition to 2600 meters. With us in the Alps, the mountains at this height are covered with snow, but in this region the mountains seemed more passable. The …

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  • 06:09
    74.1 mi
    12.0 mph
    6,600 ft
    9,975 ft

    Tired of yesterday's day, we wake up in a comfortable bed. We enjoy an extensive breakfast and make a plan for the day. We return to the north. Back to Zero Neuf, where we booked a room in two days.From Llivia we leave the valley flanked by high mountains. On our right we see above the mountain pass of …

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  • 04:17
    43.4 mi
    10.2 mph
    2,575 ft
    2,275 ft

    To return to Zero Neuf we wanted to cycle via Carcassonne. Mike tipped us this beautiful town, which is normally very touristy, but we would have more or less to ourselves due to corona.Less than ten kilometers on the way, it started to rain again. And whichever direction we looked, a quick clearing seemed out of the question. We …

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    6
  • Distance
    275 mi
  • Duration
    30:13 h
  • Elevation
    31,175 ft

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Traverses in the Pyrenees — Bikepacking from Zero Neuf Cycling

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