About the challenge
This prestigious and extremely tough cycling challenge sees us riding the length of the Pyrenees from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean. Our adventure starts with superb views of the Atlantic coast before heading inland – and up! The foothills provide us with a useful warm-up before we move on to the mighty, spectacular giants of the Pyrenees – including the legendary climbs of the Col d’Aubisque and the Col du Tourmalet. Conquering these mountains will earn you a fantastic sense of achievement and give you something in common with the most elite cyclists in the past 100 years!
This is a very strenuous challenge taking in at least two mountain climbs each day - you will need to train extremely hard to succeed.
Dates & prices
|Departs||Days||Charity||Availability||Registration fee||Fundraising target||Payment option|
|02 Sep 2017||9||Open challenge||Spaces||£199||+||£2500||Or||£1250||Book now|
Day 1-2: Meet Biarritz; transfer to start and cycle through foothills, perfect warm-up
Day 3-4: Beautiful but tough riding over Col d'Aubisque and Col du Tourmalet
Day 5-6: Climbs and descents continue over Col de Portet d'Aspet and Col du Port
Day 7: Last climbs and long descent to Mediterranean
Day 8-9: Free day on coast; transfer to Toulouse and depart
What it's really like:
Spectacular mountain scenery
Demanding Tour de France climbs
Highest point 2115m (Col du Tourmalet)
Ride at your own pace, fully supported
Discover Adventure reserves the right to change the route or itinerary for safety reasons should local conditions dictate.
The cost includes all accommodation as well as transfers and all meals except three as specified in the itinerary. It also includes full trip support of experienced Discover Adventure leaders, drivers and mechanics. Transfers from and to the airport are included. We will provide at least one transfer (depending on group size) each way. If you are not able to arrive in time for the included transfer, transportation will be at your own cost.
The cost does not include flights, personal travel insurance, three meals as specified, or a bicycle. It also does not include entrance fees to any optional sites or attractions you may wish to visit. Bear in mind that airlines are likely to charge a fee for bike carriage. Remember to allow extra for drinks, snacks, souvenirs and other personal expenses. Please note that costs may fluctuate and we have no control over any changes. We strongly recommend you carry a credit card in case of personal emergency.
Flights & Transfer Information
We do not arrange group flights for this challenge, enabling you to take advantage of the many competitive fares between cities close to the route and different UK departure points. Airlines flying to Biarritz and Perpignan include British Airways, Air France, EasyJet, Ryan Air and Flybe. We recommend you book flights that arrive in the morning and depart in the afternoon. You should allow plenty of time as a buffer in case your flight is delayed. The best deals are usually open to those who book early, but bear in mind that we do need a minimum number for this trip to run, and booking your flight before you are advised the trip is guaranteed is entirely at your own risk. Please be aware that the best deals usually allow little flexibility if you need to change them. Please ensure that you inform your airline that you will be travelling with your bike when you book. It may not be possible for them to guarantee bike carriage at a later date. Most airlines charge a bike carriage fee, which you are responsible for paying. We can provide you with guidelines on packing a bike for flight, but it’s best to check the airline’s specific instructions. We will arrange at least one transfer between the airport and Biarritz/Perpignan, depending on the group size. Exact time(s) may be determined by the times of the majority of the group and will be communicated nearer to trip departure.
Accommodation is in 2-3* hotels, picked for their proximity to our route. The hotels are comfortable with en suite facilities; standards may vary between the hotels.
All food is included except three meals where specified. Lunches are generous buffet-style with plenty of energy food to keep you going or stow in your back pocket to see you up the next climb! Dinners are generally eaten in the hotels.
Being vegetarian or having other dietary requirements is not usually a problem provided you let us know well in advance. Please do not expect as much variety as you would have access to at home. If you know there are plenty of foods you cannot eat you may wish to bring extra snacks from home so you can top up your energy supply. Bear in mind that being vegetarian is not generally well-understood in France, so meals may not be as varied as you are used to. Any meals not included are listed in the itinerary and are generally when we are in towns or cities and you are free to explore and try other culinary experiences! There is always something to suit every budget.
Discover Adventure Crew
Your trip will be led by experienced Discover Adventure leaders. Our leaders are selected for their experience in harsh wilderness environments, knowledge of travel in remote areas, friendliness and approachability, sense of humour and ability to safely and effectively deal with any situation that arises. They are also trained in expedition first-aid. You are in very safe hands with a Discover Adventure leader.
All our leaders are from the UK or other English-speaking countries. Most work for us on an ad-hoc basis and have ‘real’ jobs in-between trips! We never send our leaders to the same destination for months on end – we want them to be as enthusiastic about your trip as you are. The number of crew and support vehicles looking after you will depend on the final size of your group, but the team will be looking after every aspect of your trip whether that’s transporting your luggage, ensuring your route is well-marked, making you lunch and sorting out any mechanical problems. At Discover Adventure we pride ourselves on our high leader: cyclist ratio and believe it leads to greater trip enjoyment as well as excellent trip safety.
Support vehicles are with the group all the time. All luggage, spares, food and water is carried by them. Space is limited and hard-sided luggage is not suitable, so it is essential that your kit is packed in a soft sailing bag, rucksack or expedition kitbag. Ask us about our specially-designed low-cost kitbags if you don’t have one already. You should also bring a small daypack or large waist-pack for items needed during the day as you will not have access to your main luggage until the evening. Bikes can be transported on flights in bike bags or – a much cheaper option – cardboard bike boxes: ask your local bike shop if they have any. You should also bring a small daypack or waist-pack to carry items needed during the day as you will not have access to your main luggage until the evening.
Your safety, and that of the rest of the group, is our highest priority. Our trips are designed and planned with safety in mind. Your crew will be equipped with radios and mobile phones, first-aid kits, and other safety apparatus where necessary. They always have access to our 24-hour emergency back-up in the UK. Our leaders are responsible for safety on the trip, and will make any changes to the itinerary they deem necessary should local conditions dictate. Pre-trip administration – such as compulsory medical questionnaires and travel insurance – is all done with your safety in mind.
Preparing for the challenge
We ride mainly on small quiet roads. Traffic is light most of the time but you must be vigilant for traffic and other cyclists, especially in poor visibility or on narrow mountain bends. Watch out for traffic overtaking on mountain descents as you are riding up – they may be on your side of the road. French drivers are generally far more considerate to cyclists than here in the UK. You cycle approximately 680km (425 miles) on this trip overall, though this can vary depending on exact hotel location and any necessary deviations. Because of the terrain, distance is no indicator of how hard any given day may be!The cycling is very challenging, and it is vital that don’t underestimate how tough this challenge is. Each day includes at least two mountain climbs; they vary in difficulty but each still presents a challenge. This terrain is not suitable for anyone who has not trained hard and is not used to cycling. Distances are fairly long considering the terrain. We are always happy to talk through the trip in more detail with you if you are worried about your fitness at any stage.
We strongly recommend that you ride a road bike/racing bike for this trip due to the long distances involved on well-surfaced roads. For a trip of this difficulty, it’s really important that you ride the bike you have been training on so you are used to it. Although training in the gym is useful, there is no substitute for getting out into all weathers and really getting to know your bike – especially the range of your gears as you climb.
There will be a range of spares in the vehicle along with a full tool kit; however, it is impossible for us to carry spares for every eventuality. It is vital that if you bring your own bike it is in excellent working order before departure. It is imperative that you supply your own helmet and wear it at all times while cycling, with straps done up.
Clothing & Equipment
We could be exposed to bad weather at any time even in the height of summer so be prepared for all weathers and temperatures and remember that weather conditions can change quickly in the mountains. We provide you with a detailed packing kit-list on registration, as well as details on useful discounts you are entitled to as a Discover Adventure customer.
It can be very hot cycling in the Pyrenees, and very cold! Rain is always a possibility and it may be windy in the valleys; the weather can change rapidly. As you climb a mountain you may start with a tail-wind and end with a head-wind! The weather and temperature at the foot of a climb can be dramatically different to the top, where it may be foggy, in cloud or much colder. It can be very cold when descending.
Our challenges attract people of all levels of experience and fitness, all ages and backgrounds. We expect all participants to train hard in advance to achieve this challenge, but we respect everyone’s limits. We design our challenges so that everyone can go at their own pace: this is not a race. For logistical and safety reasons we sometimes need to re-group, so the front-runners will find themselves waiting for the slower ones. Please relax, and remember that this is a team effort that enables people to achieve their personal goals and earn sponsorship.
Passport & Visa
A valid ten-year passport is essential; it should be valid for at least six months after departure from France. There is currently no visa requirement for UK citizens. Other nationalities should check entry requirements.
We insist that you have had a Tetanus injection in the last ten years, and highly recommend protection against Polio. You should always check with your GP or travel clinic for up-to-date travel health advice as it does change.Worldwide Sustainable Tourism
Long before ‘Responsible Tourism’ became a recognised phrase, we designed and ran our trips to ensure they made minimum impact on the environment and a positive impact on the local communities we pass through. AITO, our Trade Association, has recognised the work we do in this area and has awarded us 5 stars as a Responsible Tour Operator.
Discover Adventure Projects
We are supporting a tree-planting project in Peru and a children’s home in Tanzania on a long-term basis. If you would like to ‘give something back’ please consider donating £5 to our projects when you sign up.
We encourage all our customers to offset emissions connected with their trip. You can offset at any time in the lead-up to departure by visiting Climate Care via our website and making a donation to a worthwhile project supported by them. Alternatively, if you wish to take more practical action in the UK you can volunteer for a day with The Conversation Volunteers and work on an environmental project local to you. Work may include construction footpaths, dry stone walling, creating wildlife habitats or planting trees in your community. Volunteer today at www.tcv.org.uk or call 01302 388883.