Svein Tuft has always been an atypical professional road cyclist. The Canadian is someone who prefers the simple life, in the mountains with little luxury. An explorer who fell in love with the sport through a bike trip with his dog when he was in his mid-twenties. Now Tuft takes us on his favorite 3-day adventure gravel ride around his residence in Andorra. Press play to see more.
In His Own Words
I’d always dreamt of this gravel ride of the 3 countries, wondering if it was even possible and now we’re going to have an attempt. I had just flown into Toulouse from battling it out in the crosswinds of the Dutch and Belgium roads of the Bink Bank tour, still feeling the fatigue in my legs and wondering what the hell I’d gotten myself in to. I waited for my friend Sam (the engine) Flanagan, loaded up the car and made our way to the Pyrenees for the 3-hour drive to Andorra.
We live in the small village of Pal situated at the base of Vallnord where the enduro mountain bike trails start. After an awesome late afternoon lunch provided by my wife Justine, we started on our SCOTT Addict Gravels loaded down for a three-day tour. Straight out of the blocks, we hit the 13 km grind to the top of Port de Cabus bordering with Spain and Andorra.
This is where the road turns to gravel and we start the massive descent of almost 1500m down to the small village of Tor. Once we reached the Valley in Alins, we started our climb up to Tavascan as the night was falling upon us. We ate some typical Catalan fare and studied the topo maps planning out next day’s epic route back into France.
We woke up to a Blue bird sky and Idyllic temperatures. We started the climb out of Tavascan on a tiny goat path of a road that turned immediately into gravel. On our way up to Quanca we were feasting on blueberries and raspberries in the high alpine forest. Just past Quanca the road ends and turns into single track.
This required a little bit of hike a bike to get over the pass. Just before the summit, there’s a beautiful lake called Estany del Port. We took a quick dip in its glacial waters. We reached the Tavascan pass of 2100m and began our descent into the Ariège region of France. This Northern side of the Pyrenees is much wetter which you can tell immediately by the big old growth trees and the slick rooty descents. Here the trail was quite steep and technical, but it blew us away how well these carbon Addicts could handle the steep terrain.
After about 6km of steep technical descending we were in the valley close to the small village of Osesse where we were super hungry and parched. Unfortunately, this was a French village, and nothing was open, so we had to press on. The climbing in this part of the world is relentless and it seems as the passes are coming at you every which angle.
Our final big pass of the day was the Col de Latrappe. At this point we’d been running on fumes and completely dry and we came across a sweet little restaurant bar where the man proceeded to make us some croc monsieurs and ice-cold water. Then we started our 1000m descent to Vicdessos. We spent the night in a field outside of Auzat right on the side of the French D8 national road. We set up Bivis in the tall grass and the night was chilly with hint of fall in the air.
Starting at around 500m in Auzat we began the 2000m climb up to the port de Rat. The road is nice pavement at the start as it switchbacks up the valley and at the end of Soulcem lake the road turns to gravel and continues switchbacking on to the steeper base of the high Pyrenees. The dirt road ends and you must find the trail that takes you up to the Port de Rat. It’s maybe an hour of hike and bike from there and you are back in Andorra looking down at the big ski area of Arcalis.
After a tricky scramble down from the port you start the big descent into Arcalis and Ordino. The entire trip the weather had been incredible, and we considered ourselves very lucky but in this final hour things were looking grim. As we descended from Arcalis, the rain came smashing down and we smiled at our good fortune. There was only one small climb from La Massana to Pal and we would be home. I couldn’t have imagined this trip going any better than it did, and it left me thinking that if I only had to own one bike the SCOTT Addict Gravel can really do it all.