James Thinks

writing is a kind of thinking

This is my plan for the second day of the Trans Pyrenees Race.


I'm hoping to leave Biescas before dawn to make the most of what is intended to be my longest day of the race. I start with a climb from around 850m to 1435m, so it's going to be a slow first hour. The subsequent descent to the town of Broto should be much quicker. I doubt anything will be open when I get there, so I'll have to make sure I've got some food with me.

From Broto all riders must follow Parcours2 for 69km. It appears to be a small, quiet road through forest and small tunnels chiselled out of the mountainside. I expect it will be beautiful and if it's light I'll probably take some photos.

Riders need to finish Parcours2 by 7pm on Saturday. I hope to be there mid morning giving me plenty of time in hand.

Route dilemma

At the end of the Parcours we arrive in the little village of Plan, which should have food options. However, there's also no road continuing East from here. To get to CP3 in Os de Civis by road, we'd have to retrace our route some 30km and take a large loop to the South. Interestingly, there's also an off-road track which heads East over the mountain through a viewpoint at Puerto de Sahun.

So, is 25km off road faster than 71km on the road? I guess that depends on the gradient and the off-road surface. If it's so rough that I have to push or even carry the bike, it could be very slow. Neither route is flat, but the direct off-road route takes me up to 2025m, almost as high as the high passes later in the race. I've done some research and I'm pretty confident that the track is wide enough for a car and not overly technical. Indeed, cars do drive up the East side, so it can't be that bad. I'm estimating 2 hours for that stretch, which is a little less than the 46km road route.

With that in mind the off-road path is my A route. I've also saved in my GPS the longer B route in case the weather is terrible and I'd prefer to take the road. Making that route while on the bike would be possible, but slow and fiddly, so it's helpful to have the file already programmed in.

To Sort

Back on the road I'm taking the most direct road route I can Eastwards. This passes through El Pont de Suert and Sort, both of which should be good places to resupply. I'll be climbing a series of three mountains, each over 1000m, but with hopefully manageable gradients. I'll then reach the river Noguera Pallaresa, after which it's a gentle gradient of some 12km to Sort.

There are many food and accommodation options in Sort, so depending on the time I may eat here or stay overnight.

Second route dilemma

From Sort there are again two options. Head North and take another 25km off-road route to Os de Civis, or head South-East staying on the road.

This time I'm planning to stay on the road. The off-road section is no doubt ridable, even on my road touring tyres, but parts of it look really steep and possibly technical, meaning that I'd be very slow. There's also a chance I'd be doing this in the evening as it's getting dark, making it even harder. I have good lights, but not huge mountain bike floodlights. I think this 25km off road section could take three hours in the daylight.

The second reason for me taking the road route is that once I'm over the 1712m mountain SW of Sort, there are plenty of hotels to choose from. Due to uncertainty over how far I'll get, I'm not able to book everything in advance, so having plenty of options here feels good. I may stop somewhere around La Seu d'Urgell, but it will depend on how I'm feeling.

The road route is only 21km longer, so that's my plan A.

CP3 - Os de Civis

Os de Civis is close to the border with Andorra and it'll be my first time in this little country. The control in Os is at an altitude of 1489m, so it'll be a slow climb to get there. It's also an "active" control meaning there will be people to talk with and stamp my brevet card. We need to get there by 2pm on Sunday.

Category: Cycling
Mugshot of James cycling on a road in the sunshine.

James Bradbury

I write about whatever is on my mind. I do so mostly to help me think more clearly. If other people find it interesting that's good too. :-)