The Ariége Midi Pyrenees

I don’t often write about the places I go to or the rides I do, but this ride really deserves it, I had an incredible week exploring with my host Mike Tucker.

I’ve been friends for a while now with Mike and Joss the owners of Zero Neuf, a stylish cyclist friendly retreat in the beautiful Ariege. Chances are, like me you may not heard of the Ariege, if not, then sit back this ride was incredible, just one of the many highlights of a great few days.

A ride out to the mountains is the day’s suggested route and I’m all over it; you can see them from the bedroom balcony so I’m super excited to be getting up
high this early in the season. We ride out along a stunning valley, the mountains visible in panoramic view ahead of us. We’re soon talking about the amazing variety this region offers cyclists – it seems there’s something for everyone and added to which, the roads are unbelievably quiet and the views are incredible.
Before you know it we’re in the foothills en route to Foix and the view of its ancient chateau as we reach the town is amazing. An easy spin along the stunning Ariège valley follows and next up we’re in Tarascon-Sur- Ariege from where we’ll ride the Col de Port. To be able to climb a 1,300m col at the
beginning of March is a rare treat and as we make the ascent I realise this is my kind of climb; steady gradient, great road surface and plenty to keep the
eyes entertained. We hit the snow line at 1100m and the views from the top are breathtaking – it’s an amazing experience.
After a rapid descent into the village of Massat, the next climb on the route is the Port de Lers and a slightly higher summit of 1,500m. It’s a harder climb than the Col de Port but the rewards are plentiful; more incredible views and at this time of year, we see more people skiing than cycling. It makes for surreal viewing as we ride past the lake this climb is famous for. Mike had told me on the way up that the descent off the top is one of his favourites and it didn’t take long to see why. A technical top section gives way to a super fast drop into the village of Vicdessos below – the road surface is like carpet and I am buzzing at the bottom. After a brief pause for coffee, we enjoy a fast spin back down to Tarascon and the turn for home. Mike tells me there are numerous routes back to base camp and we opt for one of the lumpy versions. It takes us into rolling hills and ancient woodland and we pass through numerous picture postcard villages – it feels like we’ve stepped back in time. We’re soon back and our Trois Seigneurs loop is done – I have absolutely loved it. The route was 160 km with 2500 m elevation, I cant wait to repeat it.

There are so many reasons to visit here, the riding, our hosts, the accommodation and it’s only an hour from Toulouse. I tend to shy away from the crowds (almost said sheep). It’s March and we were out in the snowy Pyrenees with clear blue skies, no traffic to slow us down on the sublime descents. My flights cost £38.00 plus my bike but there are high end Di2 Giant’s available to rent. What’s not to love.

Our Midi Pyrenees Escapes are a perfect way to explore the area, you can book up on one of these of contact us for more information or a custom offering,