classic-climbs-tour-01-1600x670A historic re-enactment.
Scene: France
Circa 1910

Alphonse Steinès: Hey, Henri Desgrange, how about adding some REAL mountains to this Tour de France you’re organizing?

Henri Desgrange: Mais, non.

Steinès: Tell you what, I’ll check out a BIG route. Make it really exciting. The prize is 2000 francs, after all!

Desgrange: D’accord. Bon chance….

And so, the bold Steinès embarks upon an exploratory trip across Col du Tourmalet, the highest road in the central Pyrenees. Go big, or go home. The touring car breaks down shortly after beginning the average 7.3% gradient climb. Pas de problem! Not long after, Steinès’ companions turn tail leaving him alone, which is fine…until he slips on the icy road and falls into a Pyrenees’ waterfall-fed stream. He contemplates whether it is better to proceed in the dark, or risk freezing to death in dramatic mountain terrain. Fortunately, he is rescued and both fates are averted. Steinès telegraphs his colleague with the following message:

“Crossed Tourmalet stop. Very good road stop. Perfectly feasible.”

You want to ride it, don’t you?

And you’re not alone. This pass is a favorite of the Tour de France, because it is just so Hors catégorie. All French aside, it is truly beyond categorization. Featured far more than any other grimpeur-challenging climb, 2014 will mark the 83rd time the Col de Tourmalet is staged. Beginning at Sainte Marie de Campan and proceeding up for 17.1km, it is a defining characteristic in the Tour de France. You still want to do it, don’t you? Wait. There’s more. Following a tasty decent towards Luz Saint-Saveur, riders face the fearsome ascent of the Hautacam, a 13.6km climb of heart-pounding, lung-expanding, body-pumping 7.8% gradient.

L’Etape du Tour, an amateur cyclosportive event, allows any bike beast the opportunity to conquer this iconic right of passage. And you can totally do it. After all, it is “perfectly feasible.” Held on July 14, 2014, a mere 10-days before the contemporary pros take their turns on the mega-mountains of the Pyrenees, l’Etape du Tour gives anyone willing to show up, a chance to go up. But. There is no need to suffer through equipment failure, abandonment and poor conditions. Trek Travel will get you to the top with the best equipment and support in the industry. It’s all down hill from there. And truly, it is a very good road.