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Stage 776 – Sunbilla to Zuhibar

Goodbye Spain and Hello France! This final border crossing of the journey around the world, and it leaves only twenty four stages after this back to the Arc De Triomphe in Paris where the adventure started 776 stages ago. The border is in the middle of the Bidasoa river close to the point where it flows out into the Bay of Biscay: the route actually follows the river for sixteen miles from the start of the stage north of Subilla through the mountains and on to the border. There’s very little straight road on the stage and if you’re a fan of descending on sweeping bends, then this is for you. Having said that, the welcome back into France is a rude one because the mile and a half from the border climbs four hundred feet so it would be a good idea not to burn all your matches on the way down the mountain.

The rollout follows the Bidasoa on a curving left hander that climbs initially before it embarks on a series of sweeping lefts and rights on repeat as the road meanders its way down the valley with the river on its left. The first community of note is Igantziko Bentak at five miles where a minor road head off west to serve villages high up in the mountain.

Approaching Bera on the right at nine miles, the road does a double left/left, crossing the Bidasoa not once but twice west of the town. It’s a spot where the river effectively turns back on itself for a short distance and by the time that action is out of the way and the road rolls into Zalain at ten miles, the river’s back on the left again. At eleven miles, the road takes evasive action with the hill encroaching from the east and at the point where the river turns sharp left, the road crosses it twice, effectively cutting the corner on the bend. It emerges from that with the river still on the left but that changes a mile later when it crosses to the left of the river and stays there.

That just leaves another three or four sweeping bends before the road rolls into Biriatou still on the Spanish side of the border at fifteen miles. From Biriatou, the route crosses over the main AP-1 autoroute then crosses into France over the Bidasoa river. Then the fun starts and you’ll be tested to the limit by this one.

Off the bridge, the route passes straight through the first roundabout then hangs a right at the second one: it’s signposted to Urrugne. The road immediately starts climbing and swings left and right as it makes its way up the hillside, parallel with the coast of the Bay of Biscay three miles to the left (west). The climb is severe but it eventually tops out at a roundabout where the D658 Route de la Glaciere heads north west to Sopite and the coastal communities around it. The finish of the stage is a mile after the roundabout around a right hand bend and the road manages to lose a hundred feet of climbing on the run-in, which will certainly be a fast one.

Distance: 21 miles / 34 kilometres

Ascent: 686 feet / 209 metres

RGT Magic Road: 3CotjPknMf0T

Total distance: 19.03 mi
Max elevation: 438 ft
Min elevation: -2 ft
Total climbing: 663 ft
Total descent: -752 ft

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