Help me! Plan my dream 40th birthday cycling holiday...

by _Karlos_   August 18, 2012  

Hello

Well I've been watching Le Tour since I was 12, love it, and nowadays I'm watching all the major events on Eurosport, fantastic.

Anyways, for my 40th next year I'd like to head over to the Alps or Pyrenees to do some of the famous climbs. I'm hoping to drive across there and will have two, maybe three weeks if I can get away with it at work.

I've never cycled anywhere on the continent before. I haven't done any research yet, but I'm hoping the Road CC massive could point me, err...somewhere.

All advice/suggestions welcome?

PS, if you have had a better cycling holiday in say, Spain, I am also open to ideas there. I won't be wanting to pay for first class accommodation anywhere, basic but clean and pleasant is the only requirement there.

Many thanks

Karlos.

15 user comments

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Another question, 'if' I was to follow Le Tour around for a couple of weeks, would I still be able to ride the climbs? Are they closed off for several days etc??

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posted by _Karlos_ [65 posts]
18th August 2012 - 19:44

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The roads close in the morning of the race day, and re-open in the evening. Mountain finishes stay closed a bit longer because they have to move the entire tour village convoy down, plus all the usual dutch/danish/spanish in their camper vans.

If you're there early in the day, you can usually ride up most of a mountain finish even if the road is closed to cars. Some places will close off the top of the climb to bikes too.

Everywhere the tour passes through will be busy, so book in advance. If you're not averse to camping, thats a cheap option and more comfy than you might think - municipal campsites in France commonly have fixed tents (canvas, but concrete base, spacious, camp beds, fridge and cooker provided) or chalets.

You might want to think about basing yourself in the same place for a few days rather than trying to find a new hotel every day; you can usually find somewhere where 3 or 4 stages are in striking distance.

As for something specific: would highly recommend veloventoux, in Faucon, run by some cyclists from Manchester. Great location, hospitality, & they drive support if you have a group ride. While the only main climb nearby is Ventoux itself, they will ferry you to Alpe d'Huez.

posted by bazzargh [126 posts]
19th August 2012 - 9:43

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Make it a good one; you will need it. The first time I signed on in a race as a veteran left me with psychological scars....

posted by SideBurn [680 posts]
19th August 2012 - 14:43

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I can vouch for Annecy as a good base for the part of the Alps - its a good lively town on the lake which was used for the tour TT a couple of years back. Some excellent climbing too such as Forclaz and Colombiere as well as some lesser known climbs.

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posted by TheHatter [805 posts]
19th August 2012 - 15:29

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Thanks for the replies. I wouldn't want to be moving around every day, just take in a couple of the classic stages of Le Tour and spend the rest chilling and riding.
Thinking

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posted by _Karlos_ [65 posts]
20th August 2012 - 11:45

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You do a lot worse than getting in touch with my mate Craig at http://www.veloventoux.com/ (as the earlier poster suggested).
Tell him i want a finders fee! Smile

posted by Some Fella [500 posts]
20th August 2012 - 12:20

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Staying in the pyrenees is an option too, I just spent a week in Cauterets, which is up the valley from Argeles, at the foot of the Col d'Aubisque and near the Hautacam, Tourmalet etc. Get a copy of Mountain High or the Rapha books http://www.rapha.cc/shop/prints-and-publications. If you are in London pop into the cafe and look at them for free.
These will give you some ideas. I'd recommend one HC ascent a day, I did the Aubisque, the Soulor and the Tourmalet in one day and it was a bit too much.
Build your self up on climbs like Pont D'Espagne and Cambasque, then go for the cols.

Cannondale CAAD10 and an Orange Brompton M3L
bike blog - headtu.be

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posted by zzgavin [176 posts]
20th August 2012 - 20:15

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+1 for the pyrenees, i love it there.

i've stayed here before: www.fontaines-escot.com - right at the foot of the marie blanque and a super place to be. Argeles-Gazost (or that valley) is the best for bagging a bunch of cols though as it's within easy reach of most of the big ones

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posted by Dave Atkinson [6685 posts]
20th August 2012 - 20:43

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As an alternative to the Pyrenees you could try the Picos in northern Spain. These aren't quite as high but still have plenty of good climbs as I know from experience. The roads are good and it's not too expensive an area - also very popular with French and Spanish cyclists so you won't be the only one on two wheels by any means. Local drivers are used to the presence of cyclists on the roads and tend to pass safely as well. You could take the ferry to Santander or fly to Asturias - both decent options. If you take a mountain bike instead of a road bike, the Cares Gorge is particularly good while there are plenty of other bits of off-road riding worth trying. There are a lot of B&Bs dotted around or you could base yourself in the campsite at Arenas de Cabrales. The food and wine is good and the locals are friendly - been cycling there many years ago and also taken my wife and kids and rented a car - great place. I told a colleague about it and he went on his motorbike and liked it so much he went back twice more.

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posted by OldRidgeback [1748 posts]
21st August 2012 - 11:16

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Hi Karlos,

Great idea on a cycling holiday for your birthday! We love a good celebration!
Have you considered the Vercors / pre-alps region? We're based here in the little French village of St-Jean-en-Royans, just below Europe's largest gorge the Combe Laval - which is magnificent to ride through! We're also 1.5 hours from Alpe d'Huez & Mont Ventoux; 40 minutes from Grenoble and 30 minutes from Valence (TGV/Eurostar station). The roads and routes around here are fantastic, making the natural lakes and rivers, aqueducts and quaint villages very accessible. Leave the pot-holes and traffic in the UK!

You can find out more here: www.velovercors.com and also find us on Trip Advisor - http://bit.ly/SRiOv4

As for the Tour de France - it's very accessible. We take groups every year to catch a couple of stages; this year we rode the other side of the Coix de la Fer/Glandon to catch it at the top. The actual mountain route/climb of the stage typically shuts 24 hours before (flatter routes or villages only close down an hour or so before they pass through). It is very much worth the experience of being on the mountain!!

Get in contact if you want any more information or have any questions.

- Velo Vercors
@velovercors

posted by VeloVercors [1 posts]
22nd August 2012 - 7:29

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Cheers all, keep the suggestions coming, plenty for me to look at.
Cool

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posted by _Karlos_ [65 posts]
22nd August 2012 - 12:08

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A friend of mine rode 9 stages of the Tour this year with www.tourdeforce.org.uk. Sounded incredible! She's turning 40 too next year and plans to do the WHOLE thing this time to mark the occasion. She had to raise sponsorship mind you, but actually raised loads more than the minimum she had to commit to raising because everyone was so gobsmacked by how big a challenge it was. Hell of a way to turn 40!

posted by tracy123 [2 posts]
7th September 2012 - 13:46

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sssssstelvio passsss. go italian, go big Big Grin

posted by russyparkin [511 posts]
7th September 2012 - 20:35

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_Karlos_ wrote:
Another question, 'if' I was to follow Le Tour around for a couple of weeks, would I still be able to ride the climbs? Are they closed off for several days etc??

Are you fit enough to ride up to 200k a day in the Pyrenees or the Alps? For several days? Personally a couple of the major climbs in one ride is enough, but then I'm older and not that fit . . .

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posted by manoirdelourde [18 posts]
8th September 2012 - 20:23

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The area round bourg d’oisans and la grave is gorgeous. Long winding roads, relatively patient cars, and most of all, the alpe d'huez.

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posted by mr-andrew [281 posts]
9th September 2012 - 18:54

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