Timed climb to the étang de Soulcem
For the last two years the l’Ariégeoise has organized a timed climb to highlight a classic Ariège col, part of the circuit for that particular year.
However, in 2020, we’re going to suspend the rule as July 2019 saw the loss of our Vice-president, Mr Alain LEPLUS. Alain was a pillar of the L’Ariégeoise organizing committee from the beginning and also one of the founders and Vice-President of the well-known Ariège trail race: the Marathon de Montcalm.
By his functions in the tourist field, Alain Leplus was an innovator. As he had a passion both for mountains and his homeland, it seemed natural to pay tribute to him by setting up a common challenge between the two organisations to which he willingly gave a lot of time, energy and know-how.
The challenge Alain LEPLUS:
Is made up as follows: the timed climb to the étang(lake) de Soulcem (15 km & 957 m altitude gain), followed by the trail run of la Soucarrane (13 km & 800 altitude gain).
The timed climb to the étang de Soulcem:
After Beille (2018) and Agnès (2019), this year’s choice for the timed climb is the Etang de Soulcem. Less well-known to cyclo-sportive riders, it has, even so, 15 kms at over 6% average slope and passages at nearly 14%, worthy of featuring as a true Ariège mountain col.
What exactly is this average slope figure hiding? The start is at the Plain des Sports, at Auzat, with a well-tarmacked road, providing a good riding surface … to get the legs turning over the first 3 kilometers on shallow slopes varying from 2 to 5% … but Watch Out! We now face a wall at a 10% average, at least 700 m long, a real ‘thigh-stretcher …
From km4 to the “S” bend of the village of Marc (km 6.5), a succession of climbs interspersed with short descents await you … We are taking a narrow mountain road: Keep going! Another 10% ‘hit’ to arrive at Mounicou, crossing the stream of the same name: We’re now in the heart of the matter! Another wall, nearly 10%, to attain the barns at Carafa … Calm down and breathe deeply as far as Pla de l’Isard, at km 9.5 …
“On the left” cry some, as we’re not going down below 11% (with even a point at 14%!) until the base of the Soulcem dam at km 12.3 … a final kilometer at 9%, then on to the big ring for the remaining 1.5 km on the edge of the étang de Soulcem in high mountain scenery.
The trail de la Soucarrane
A 13 km trail & 800m of altitude gain in the mountains around the lakes of Roumazet and la Soucarrane.
A real mountain trail run, but accessible to a range of abilities, in superb scenery at over 2000 meters altitude. After a start favouring fast progress, on a wide track likely to string out the runners up to the hut at La Crouts, you then take the route of the famous PICaPICA in reverse on a “single track” with a stiff 200m climb You join a track that takes you to the feed zone. From now on only the splendid paths that are Soulcem’s secret. You then attack the day’s second climb that leads to the étang de la Soucarrane, nearly 2300m high. Now you only need descend whilst admiring the étang de Roumazet and the pla de Labinas before arriving at the Orris (drystone huts) du Carla.
The Challenge Alain LEPLUS can be run individually or as a team. It is also possible to participate in only the Timed Climb or the Trail de la Soucarrane.
Directly afterwards there is a Burger party organized by Maison Lacube, there in the mountains, a real moment of fellowship for all participants
The charge for the timed climb has been increased by 1€, which is passed on to a different charity each year.