I am running another open 4-dayer to the western Pyrenees!
Where is it? Based in a small village near Argeles-Gazost in a wonderful catered chalet hosted by cycling ex-pats. Your hosts Niamh and Mark have been cycling these valleys for a long time and are always on hand with tips and advice. The chalet has fantastic rooms with mountain views and large comfortable communal areas. Your breakfast and evening meals are served around a big dining table every day. The views of across the valley to Hautacam across the village's tiled rooftops characterise the chalet.
When is it? A 4-day weekend from 7th to 10th August. You will be picked up from Toulouse airport mid-morning and brought to Lourdes to ride into the area by lunchtime on day 1. You would also have the chance to ride until lunchtime on day 4 before I take you back to the airport.
How do you and your bikes get there? Your bikes and bags travel ahead of you from the UK. I pick them up from a Kent/SE London pick up point and drive them down ahead of you and then bring them back after the trip. More on this here. While I drive, you can fly or get a train, or you can even jump in with me if you don't mind 11 hours of my singing! I pick the group up from Toulouse airport.
What's the riding like? Mountainous! It's the Pyrenees! There are valley bottom rides but they are limited in scope. People come here to climb the great Tour de France cols, so expect long, hard climbing! You would get the chance to ride the Tourmalet, the Aubisque, the Hautacam and the other hidden gems and classic cols.
How many: Maximum group size is 8. The trip needs to have a minimum of 5 to go ahead.
Price: £695, includes 3 nights half-board in outstanding catered chalet in shared rooms (single room supplement £150); bike and bag transfer from the UK and back; Toulouse airport transfers; full support (and I mean full support) on all rides - no need to carry an extra water bottle or clothing up the mountain. Does not include flights (Easyjet Gatwick-Toulouse normally less than £100 return - no need to pay for luggage because it travels by road, hand luggage only).
Why the Pyrenees
One of the iconic cycling destinations, the Pyrenees are rightfully one of our most popular playgrounds. The Pyrenees are an excellent long weekend destination from the UK, or they could form the main event of a longer trip.
You may even want to attempt the Raid Pyrénéen, the ultimate Pyrenean challenge, crossing the whole range from one end to the other over all the mightiest cols.
The utterly wonderful Pyrenees have been hosting the Tour de France for over the a hundred years. These were the first mountains crossed by the Tour and they include the Tour's most-crossed cols such as the Tourmalet, the Peyresourde and the Aubisque, as well as brand new climbs such as the punishing Col du Portet.
We use two bases in the Pyrenees. For the central Pyrenees we base groups in Bagnéres-de-Luchon for easy access to the Peyresourde, Superbagnéres, Port de Balés, and the eastern side of the Tourmalet many others. For the western Pyrenees, new in 2019, we use a base near Argeles-Gazost for the the other side of the Tourmalet, the Hautacam, the Aubisque and plenty more.
Have a look at some of the great reviews that our trips have been getting!
How does a long weekend work?
Well, firstly, YOUR BIKES DON'T FLY!!! We load your bikes up in the UK into our custom-fitted bike trailer and then take them down ahead of you the day before you travel. We meet you from your luggage-free morning flight at Toulouse airport, and transfer you to the start of 4 days of riding in the Pyrenees (you can be riding within the hour), then after your day 4 ride we drop you back at the airport for your evening flight. Then we drive your bikes safely back to you the next day.
Price: For long weekends the price is just £695pp for groups of 8 people, or £795pp for groups of 6 people. For longer trips add around £150/person/day for groups of 7/8, £200/person/day for groups of 5/6.
Includes transport of your own bikes and luggage to/from the UK, plus your transfers to/from Toulouse airport and half-board in a great fully-catered chalet in the heart of the Pyrenees.
The Chalet: We have found a great, bike-friendly chalet in the spa town of Luchon, amongst the great Pyrenean cols, with bike storage room, surrounded by great restaurants and bars, and with rooms like this.
Support: You will receive full support throughout your rides and the rest of your trip at a luxurious ratio of no less than 1:8, including mechanical/medical backup, carrying your spare clothing, water and food, and sourcing of fabulous picnics of great local produce for you (our speciality). When you do the big climbs the van will be as close to you as you like and we can usually even pass spare water bottles in and out of the van as we come alongside you, á la Tour.
Routes: Your ride routes can be tailored to suit your thoughts, but we have a long list of suggested routes and must-see and must-ride spots. Turn east out of the village and there is the icomic Col du Portillon and Spain within 10km. Turn west and it's the Port de Balés, the Col de Peyresourde and, of course, the mighty Tourmalet.
The van will be on hand to support you throughout your 4 days' riding, and we can meet you at beautiful places with a fantastic picnic, or we can book you in for lunch or supper wherever you like, and then bring you home afterwards if you'd like. We are at your service throughout.
Arriving by plane: Departure: around 8am Gatwick, arrival Toulouse around 11am local time. 1hr transfer to beautiful drop-off point for lunch and day one ride. Return flight departs Toulouse around 9pm for arrival Gatwick before 10pm. Allows plenty of time for a full day ride on all 4 days, and enough time even for an early supper and beer before your return flight.
Bike pick-up and drop-off will take place from a single location in Kent or SE London a day or two in advance of departure and after arrival.
Group sizes: Because the chalet has its own 9-seater we can cater for groups up to 12, but our open weekends would suit a single group of 7-8 but could be open groups comprised of individuals or pairs. Smaller groups can be catered for, but the best per person price is for groups of 7-8. There is no lower limit to group size, and a nice small group pays a little more per head but enjoys a far greater level of attention and the comfort that small groups afford.
Ability: Any ability can be catered for but to climb in the Pyrenees all riders should have a good level of fitness and be accustomed to riding up steep hills for extended periods of time. The fitting of a compact chain ring and/or 30+ tooth sprocket in your gearset is highly recommended.
Available weekends: You can choose a weekend for you and your mates by looking at our calendar page for availability, or look out for our 'open' trips if you are not numerous enough to make up a whole group. We recommend late Summer to early Autumn (September-October) for a Pyrenees trip and currently most of these are free in 2017. High summer is also great but there is a greater risk of very high temperatures and afternoon storms. Just consult our calendar page and choose a date then give us a call on 07984 065329 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
One of the great cycling challenges is an end-to-end crossing of the Pyrenees. There are many ways to do this but there is a route set out by the Cyclo Club Béarnais called the Raid Pyrénéen, often Anglicised as the Raid Pyrenees. It can be tackled in either direction but mostly it is attempted from Hendaye on the Atlantic coast to Cerbère on the Mediterranean coast.
It is truly a huge challenge for any rider. There are two 'formules' but the most common one to undertake, the Randonneur, involves crossing 18 cols, over 11,000m of ascent in 720km. It crosses most of the mightiest Pyrenean cols, such as the Tourmalet, the Aubisque and the Puymorens and the real challenge is to complete it within 100 hours, so by lunchtime on the fifth day.
In 2018, I supported a team from GS Avanti to undertake the Raid Pyrenean and it is a truly wonderful route amongst some of the most beautiful landscape that you can cycle in.
If you'd like to organise or take part in a Raid Pyrenees trip then get and touch and I can work out a price for you. It's best priced as a custom trip but, depending on options, I would expect it to cost around £995 pp for the 100hr Randonneur option.