Epic Cols EP 05 - Luz Ardiden, FRA

The Pyrenees is one of my favorite domains in the world to ride. The stone buildings, the greens, and the feeling of a slower pace of life. It’s a magical place, and there’s a climb that encapsulates all of that. Luz Ardiden.

I was staying in the town of Luz-Saint-Sauveur a gateway town to some of the most famous climbs in the Tour de France. The Tourmalet, Hautacam, Spandelles, and of course Luz Ardiden, which itself has been the finale of many Tour de France battles. 

This climb is a road to nowhere, and even during the day is quiet once you’ve climbed away from the town and small hamlets at the bottom. But don’t mistake this calm for calm, as there are 1000 vertical meters to endure in 13km, making for an average of 7%. It will give your legs a good workout.

Bike setup with the Bright as Day 3000 on board and the Bright as Day 2000 on my helmet, and into the twilight I go.

Like many climbs, the lower sections are in the trees, and this is the same for Luz Ardiden. It only starts to share its beauty and its views at 8km in. By this point, you’ve climbed over 600 vertical meters and without a doubt, the corners in the photos below are my favorites. A perfectly formed U-bend with grass all around. An abandoned stone-walled building too. Switchback perfection!

I climb up and away with a sharp ramp in gradient the light starting to fade and the skies above Col du Tourmalet (opposite side of the valley) turning a gorgeous pink color. A concrete-walled wide switchback provides the framing for my views.
3 corners to go, 2 corners to go and I make it to the summit in the darkness. It’s not the prettiest. A functional ski resort with a car park, but I guess if there was an amazing café up there, it would be much busier so you have to be careful what you wish for!

A few minutes at the top (below 10 degrees) and time to enjoy the descent. With such flowing, wide, and not overly technical bends it’s a cracker and you can rip through the KM’s fast.

Back into the trees with long sections before the next bend. The air getting warmer encouraging you go to faster (which you can with such bright lights) until you poke out of the trees and start to see the golden lamps of the settlement of Sazos. The stars shone brightly too.

I rest my bike against the Luz Ardiden sign as I make it back to Luz-Saint-Sauveur after another amazing experience. Ticking off some of my favorite climbs at night and seeing magical skylines. From that same spot, you start Col du Tourmalet, did you see that episode? If not, read it here https://moonlightmountaingear.com/blogs/stories/epic-cols-ep-03-tourmalet-fra