Overlooked by Le Tour due to access, Lac de Cap-de-Long has to be one of the best “dam” hidden gems you can come across in the cycling world; with stunning views from the offset, this climb is one of a kind. At 2160 metres, the route to the lake is one of the highest paved roads in the French Pyrenées, higher than Col du Tourmalet pass, and it’s simply a beautiful place to cycle.
From Saint-Lary-Soulan head south into the high mountains the road undulates until you reach the village of Fabian where the climb really starts. Turning right, the road narrows and the gradient fluctuates through a dense forest of mountain pine. The road criss-crosses the mountain stream heading steadily up the gorge flanked on both sides by a rock face. There are three sets of impressive switch backs which almost form figure of eights as they escalate up the mountain side. After conquering the last set of switchbacks suddenly the dam finally comes into view way above you. The scenery is simply stunning and not unlike the Canadian Rockies.
The view of the dam high in the distance provides a visible end point encouraging you to push on. Just before arriving at the dam there is a final set of hairpins but with the end in sight they are quickly completed. This maybe an out and back ride but it’s one that certainly won’t be forgotten. Once at the dam be sure to visit the Café (yes we couldn’t believe there is one up there either!) and ride along it taking in your achievement.
Once you’ve soaked it all in, begin your descent back down to Fabian, making sure that you take it easy on the shaded areas where gravel and the water from the waterfalls combine to make it a little sketchy. Then follow the main road all the way back to St Lary Soulan, Arreau turning right at Chemin de la Neste, and follow the lane back to Velo Le Closier to reflect on the climb, and make all of your cycling friends very jealous on Facebook.
111km (69 miles)