Port de la Bonaigua (2,072)

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col de la cayolle cycling

CHALLENGE 

Port de la Bonaigua is a notable mountain pass in the Pyrenees, connecting the Val d’Aran with the Pallars Sobirà region in Catalonia, Spain. From a cycling perspective, especially for col-hunters, Port de la Bonaigua offers a relatively gentle yet scenic ascent, making it an attractive option for cyclists who enjoy long, steady rides rather than steep challenges.

It serves as a crucial link between the cities and areas around Vielha in the Val d’Aran and Esterri d’Àneu in Pallars Sobirà. The pass is situated on the N-230 road, a major route that facilitates not only local but also some cross-border traffic to France, enhancing its importance as a thoroughfare in the region.

Both sides of the pass feature a relatively easy average gradient of less than 6%, making it accessible to a broad spectrum of cyclists. From the south (Vielha side), the climb is about 21 kilometers long and from the north (Esterri d’Àneu side), it stretches approximately 19 kilometers.

Historically, Port de la Bonaigua has been an important pass for the movement of peoples and goods in the Pyrenees, particularly given its role in connecting the Val d’Aran, a unique area with a distinct culture and language (Aranese), to the rest of Catalonia and Spain. Its accessibility year-round (subject to snow clearance in winter) has made it a vital route for centuries, influencing the cultural and economic exchanges in this part of the Pyrenees.

The N-230 road over Port de la Bonaigua is a major road, well-maintained due to its importance in regional connectivity. However, riders should be aware that this also means the road can carry significant traffic, especially during peak tourist seasons. The presence of vehicles, including heavy trucks, necessitates caution, particularly on descent where speeds can be high.

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