An all day classic above the Catalan town of Vielha. Climbing up from the village of Vilac; with views of the Aran valley. We then climb higher into another world of the high Pyrenees.
Like most of my routes; this ride was born from my curiosity. I have passed through the Aran Valley and Vielha many times to travel further south in to Spain. Every time I would look up at the hills either side of the town and wonder if there was a route into those hills on my bike.
Finally, after procrastinating for far too long; this year I finally got the chance to escape in to these hills. Using Wikiloc and the local tourist website; I found a circular route to my taste. Here is a link to the local tourist website: https://www.visitvaldaran.com/en/btt-aran-total-bike/mtb-center/
So deciding on a route; I drove from my apartment in a neighbouring valley and parked at the north end of Vielha. Taking the back road up to Vilac; by turning right before the village I soon found the forest road that would take me up and up. I had been lucky with the weather in September. The sun warmed my skin just to enough to keep comfortable as I passed in and out of the shade of the pine trees as I climbed forever up. After counting over ten switchbacks I arrived at a clearing with a small mountain refuge. From a viewpoint I could look down on Vielha and the Aran Valley all the way to the ski resort of Baquiera.
Pausing just to catch my breath in the thinning air; I carried on up. Past a phone and TV mast, past the tree line; it seemed like no end to the ascent. After I while I rounded a spur and looked across to a lush green valley with wild horses grazing on the lush green grass. I could look across and see my route into the next side valley and back down to Vielha.
I am struggling to describe what I saw; the photos I have posted do little justice as well. Rarely have I felt so fresh, so alive, so relaxed; with a good bike and keeping in shape, it seemed I had found a paradise right here on earth.
After traversing to the valley of the Arriu; I passed more wild horses, a shepherds hut and relaxed cows. On a sunny day; the route across the meadows was easy to trace. I would strongly advise attempting this route on a foggy or rainy day without local guidance.
As I started my descent; the track became so steep I had to walk my bike. After about two kilometres; the gradient relaxed so I could once again mount my bike. Following a now decent track down I passed through the village of Mont. Here I picked up signs to take me back to Vielha. Beware though, below the village I failed to notice a sharp right and left turn from the concrete road. I only realized when I came to a dead end and had to ask a farmer.
If you follow the route on Wikiloc; you will notice the slight dogleg on the map. After retracing my steps I enjoyed a beuatiful descent back down to Vielha.
Can be enjoyed from when the snows melt in May/ June all the way to the rainy days of October.
Cheers; take it steady and remember to relax!
Parking, refreshments and other tips:
It is possible to park for free on the outskirts of Vilac or in the centre of Vielha. I parked on the access road opposite the police station; as you come into Vielha from the north.
There are no services for the entire ride; so take sufficient provisions for a long day in the saddle.
Do not try to attempt this circular route in the opposite direction because you will find yourself pushing your bicycle up for the majority of the ascent. When you descend below the village of Mont; the concrete road ends and you turn right onto a farm track. It is not clear but you must turn immediately left, keeping the farm buildings on your right; in order to stay on the ‘Carrer Sant Pau’.
4 hrs 28 minutes
As relaxed as can be!
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