Classic Climbs of France, Day 2, Col du Tourmalet and Col D’Aspin

Alan Gilbert
4 min readJun 22, 2023


This is part of a series of posts from my cycling trip to France to experience the “classic climbs” of the French Pyrénées, Alps, and Mont Ventoux.

Today’s Ride

Our rides so far, today’s in red


I’m sure at some point, this series of blog posts will get repetitive. Conquering a long and difficult ascents, thrilling downhills, spectacular views, etc. So in this post I’ll more let the pictures tell the story.

Today we had a one-way ride to Saint-Lary-Soulan, a Pyrénées ski resort. In the process, we climbed and descended Col du Tourmalet, featured in this year’s Tour de France, and Col D’Aspin. The day started off rainy and got quite cold at the top of Tourmalet. Everyone followed our guides’ advice and layered up and brought rain gear, especially for the descent down the back side of Tourmalet. Climbing Tourmalet was a beast, a life accomplishment… well until later in the week when we do Mont Ventoux and Alpe d’Huez. Col D’Aspin was not as tough (not as high) but it was our second climb of the day and after lunch.

One thing that has helped me mentally… though the climbs here are 10–20 times longer than what I’m used to in Ohio, the maximum steepness is, so far, typically 12%-13% grade. At home I trained on hills as much as 20% (for short runs) so it makes me think I can handle whatever we have in store for us here. We’ll see…

I’ll do a quick plug for Trek Travel, as everything has been well planned and executed and first class so far. And the guides (see photos below) have been just awesome. They are all bad-ass cyclists and they have been given us great advice and been patient and super helpful.

Getting daily instructions from two of our awesome guides, Natalie and Diego
Rain was with us for most of the day
We rode about 18 miles to get to the base of Tourmalet. There were dozens and dozens of cyclists making the trek.
The beast
Incredible views all the way up
Our other awesome guide, Claire
Spectacular look back at our journey up Tourmalet
The climb to Col d’Aspin was incredible as well
View from the top of Col d’Aspin
One of the many, many hairpin turns coming down from Col d’Aspin