Video: Crossing the Pyrenees by Bike in 10 Days

Jul 30, 2018
by Tito Tomasi  
Views: 4,488    Faves: 17    Comments: 1


The Pyrenees are the largest mountain range in France and I have waited a long time before setting out on an adventure across it. Maybe because I grew up in the Alps, or maybe because I was afraid of the terrain...

Day 1. Hendaye beach July 11th.

Here is the map of the route, mostly in Spain, mostly on the GR11. A classic hiking route.

On July 11, I started the traverse. I knew I had 800 kilometers ahead of me and some big mountains. I didn't have a specific number of days I needed to do the crossing in, although I wanted to do it as quickly as I could. My legs were feeling good and I was in harmony with the mountains, and I followed the GR10 and than GR11 in Spain for the most part.

I was moving fast, trying to camp some nights and having good weather. Around the middle, I knew my pace was good and I could make it under 12 days, so I kept that in mind despite the huge days and difficulties. Finally, moving strong and keeping good rhythm I made it in 10 days, with a huge last day to the beach after 4,400 meters of elevation.

This adventure was a great discovery for me. I found the Spanish Pyrenees tremendous and authentic. But I have to say that the trails were the roughest I have ever seen. Doing a mountain range crossing is always complicated by trail quality. Often the crossing doesn't take the best trail but it's the only solution to really cross the range... This is also the beauty of a crossing - accepting the mountain as it is and finding your own path.

The adventure started in the beautiful Basque Country where it's all about greenery, white houses and wild horses. Than I crossed the Aragon region with rough and wild mountains before stepping into Catalonia. My route, the classic GR11, crossed Andorra and the rough mountains before going back to Catalonia and finishing in France with the spectacular landscape of high ridgelines and eventually the sea. An incredible journey through an awesome country.

Totalling 811 kilometers and 32,290 meters of climbing in 10 days, the trip was a hard one. But I love to ride this way, light and fast on rough terrain. Where the disciplines are blurred and you're riding some serious traverses on an enduro bike, but also doing some bikepacking. I just love mountain biking in the end.

The trip put me back to the time I was a child, wondering what was behind the mountains. The child in me is still there.

Vive La Vie!

- Tito

For a beast of a trip you need a beast of a bike. Rocky Mountain Instinct BC edition, Mavic XA wheels and 1.5kg extra luggage.

Day 1 On the Rhune summit, iconic summit of the Basque Country.

Day 2 Izaba village in beautiful Basque Country.

Day 2 lunch.

Day 3 before Aguas Tuertas.

Day 3 was one of the first serious climbs up to Estaens lake.

Pyrenees are full of lakes and peaks, beautiful and wild.

Day 3 on top of Formigal.

Day 3.

Day 3 with my own 1942s bunker for the night.

Do you like rocky trails?

Day 4 in the Panticosa downhill.

Day 4 Formigal downhill.

Day 4 downhill back to the valley.

Estaens lake.

Day 5 Grey trail to Sircues.

Day 5 At the Monte Perdido National Parc.

DCIM 100GOPRO GOPR0826.JPG
Day 6 Hiking in the rain to some high passes.

Day 8 before Pomapedrosa pass.

DCIM 100GOPRO GOPR0890.JPG
Day 8 Pomapedrosa pass to enter Andorra. Rough and steep.

Day 9 Always stoked to sleep in weird places!

Day 10 in the rock shelter.

Day 10 on the ridgeline heading to the sea. Or not?

Day 10, Banyuls beach, a little more tired.



66 Comments

  • + 21
 “Always stoked to sleep in weird places!”

The caption and photo made me laugh out loud! Awesome trip man, thanks for sharing.
  • + 9
 @TitoTomasi Awesome, as always. How do you handle the self sufficient part for food, water and energy for video, camera, gps and maybe smartphone for safety and music (picture with earbuds)?
  • + 2
 My question too, especially the water part.
  • + 3
 I suspect he stopped and picked up food along the route and did not carry all his food and water with him. Found mountain hostels, hotels and other sources of food along the way. I guess we will see when he responds!
  • + 1
 Bikepacking without gloves? Yeah, sure...
  • + 34
 Hi there, I was alone and self sufficient, picking food in villages for the day and for the nights I camped. Other night in homestay or refugee. For the water I had a 800ml bottle only but there was plenty of sources. Also carrying a 1.5L bottle to fill up for the night (cooking and sleep).
For the camera and phone I had a spare battery that I was charging sometimes, it was a tricky game to deal with the batteries. No gps, no safety, but music. Days are long!
bike and luggages was around 16kg (sleeping bag + matress on the bar in a waterproof liner strap with two VOILE). One frame bag with tools, clif bars and batterie + tube and tool on a MTBstrapon strap.
the bag was in between 7 and 10 kg... and yeahhhh no gloves, coz dat ze way I ride!

ALOHA
  • + 3
 @TitoTomasi: Sounds like a blast, much respect! Thanks for sharing.
  • + 2
 @TitoTomasi: thanks for responding with so many details!
  • + 1
 @TitoTomasi: merci pour les détails
  • + 1
 @TitoTomasi: Solide! Les pyrénées sa pique un peux. Prochaine fois peut être un moyeux dynamo relié a un power pack?
  • + 9
 Bro, That is a pretty heavy trip. Really interested in more detail on logistics, equipment and advice for others contemplating a similar bikepacking mission. Congrats on the vid and article.
  • + 4
 Great! Simple and raw, distinguish from hundreds pinkbike videos following same scheme (opening beers, cofee machines, rock two-fingers signs, some bike jumps, time lapse stars).
  • + 4
 Pyrenees are beautiful and sort of flying under the radar when we are talking European mountains and that's good, let em stay that way.
  • + 10
 The Pyrenees suck. Don't go there. Stay at home and browse pinkbike instead.
  • + 6
 More content like this please. Great job Tito!
  • + 1
 Totally agree with that statement!
  • + 3
 Thanks a lot! Aloha
  • + 4
 ANIMAL! 3.3km of climbing on average, per day is beyond impressive. If you ever need a riding buddy for a trip in the western US, hit me up. Cheers Jonathan
  • + 5
 Yeah, WTF! 10 consecutive days of over 3000m climbing per day is utterly insane.
  • + 5
 awesome tito! mad respect
  • + 1
 @TitoTomasi: Superb video, big respect for doing all that solo! Is there any section of the trip you would really recommend that could be done in 2-3 days? Keen to plan my first bike packing trip and I'm in Toulouse so its on my doorstep!
  • + 4
 AWESOME! Smile How did you managed to put so much hair uder the bike helmet? Smile
  • + 1
 last year, my friend Maurizio did this (only in italian):
www.facebook.com/pg/KESPETTAKOLO/posts/?ref=page_internal

Reverse direction on a xc hardtail; he surely went for a less "alpine" route but surely didn't avoid technical trails

Anyway, big ups to Tito for sharing his adventure.
Love this type of content.
  • + 1
 Awesome man! Thank you for sharing this. Yes the GR trails in Spain rock! An enduro bike definitely the way to go for the GR's. I have my favorites but I have never done something like this but would love to. I know there are some guided tours but they might be for the more xc endurance crowd and avoid the technical descends. If anyone knows of Pyrenees tours that do something like this please do share.
  • + 3
 Basque MTB does technical descents in the Pyrenees. Van uplifts and really cool descents.
  • + 1
 @vanmtnbiker: @basquemtb are good friends of mine, they rock!
  • + 3
 @titotomasi we know these areas well and all of our team are super impressed by this! You are an animal :-)
  • + 2
 thanks bro! I will be back in October hoping to share some rides with you! aloha
  • + 2
 Has anybody got any useful links or blogs for the sort of kit to take on something like this? He looks to be packing quite light which must make the riding a bit more fun.
  • + 3
 This is the type of adventure that I got into mountain biking for! No I just have to do one myself... lol
  • + 1
 Sick, great stuff, Europe has a different style of outdoors to North America.....if I go for a 10 day trip alone (with no weapons) in Northern Ontario I doubt I would make it back alive. Not a bad thing, just different.
  • + 4
 I do multi days out in the BC backcountry with no weapons,always seem to make it out alive.Same with most of the the people i know.
  • + 1
 @rideonjon: People go missing in Northern Ontario portaging every year. Also, recently seen a documentary of trail cameras of BC back country and Alberta it was full of bikers, brown bears, black bears, wolves, mountain lions, hikers, deer...in that order all captured on the footage. The point of the documentary was that we all live in "harmony" but every now and then people DO get attacked. Be careful out there.
  • + 2
 @BornOnTwo: there are few dozens of brown bears in the Pyrenees, but they tend to eat sheep and stay away from humans. Same with wolves.
  • + 3
 Fantastic! What a adventure. To do it alone and in just 10 days,on hiking trails,it's unreal. Well done Tito!
  • + 9
 Thanks man, for sure wasn't easy! (self shot part ain't easy too ...)
  • + 5
 unreal man.
  • + 1
 Really nice video photos and trip, I love the Pyrenees, they sre incredible and nice for a hike and to ride.
Would you recomend doing the route vice versa?

Saludo
  • + 1
 Amazing trip, is the smoke coming out of the chimney in the 1942 bunker the same as the smoke rolling out the door Wink ?

Thanks for sharing, way cool!
  • + 2
 the LONG VERSION here: youtu.be/FoCYqVEOXuY more raw, more hike a bike!!
  • + 1
 What beautiful mountains! And you brought back memories of when I was able to be a hair farmer, too. My crop has since died. Serious Trailforks points for that epic trip
  • + 1
 You have my absolute respect for monstering that route in 1 days. Those are serious mountains.

You´ve inspired ,me to sort myself out and have a go at this. Zorionak!
  • + 2
 Thank you, Pyrenees are definitely a rough place for a crossing. Aloha
  • + 3
 Now that’s mountain biking.
  • + 1
 Kudos www.pinkbike.com/u/TitoTomasi, superbe, merci pour nous faire rêver!
  • + 2
 The feeling when you finish such a trip is amazing. Very inspiring!
  • + 1
 That looks so awesome what an amazing adventure Tito,video & pictures are looking incredible.
  • + 1
 Loving these travel pieces - keep 'em coming, Pinkbike.
  • + 1
 what a trip! what a beast! just unreal, thanks for sharing!!!
  • + 1
 Great!! come to the Andes Mountains in Chile!!
  • + 1
 YOU BEAST!!!! good job TITO
  • + 1
 Merci mon ami! Aloha
  • + 1
 Truly inspirational. Well done!
  • + 1
 Brutal tiu!! Ets un crack
  • + 1
 Anybody know the name of the frame bag?
  • + 2
 just a waterproof liner with voile straps! lighter=funnier !
  • + 1
 @TitoTomasi: Great thanks! But the other one on the frame?
Keep on sharing your adventures Tito, great inspiration!
  • + 1
 Interesting choice of tires Tito... Wink
  • + 1
 and on hutchinson tires. bawse
  • + 2
 well those were enduro specific tires, 2X 66 casing. the rubber did well and I had no puncture, no leak, ... awesome!
  • + 1
 light and fast!
  • + 1
 Wow, respect!
  • + 1
 Inspiring stuff, Salut !
  • + 1
 that´s living!!
  • + 1
 Epic!

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