The Col Collective

Grand Cols

Tour Overview

Our Grand Cols week is for those that are inspired to conquer the greatest cols in the French Pyrénées. Ride the most famous peaks and add your legend to the Tourmalet, Aubisque, Aspin, Hautacam, Luz Ardiden and many more.

With full support from The Col Collective, ride with and learn from Mike Cotty and the team on the bike each day and recover and relax après velo back at our period guest house.

This is our signature week and is all about escaping to the biggest peaks, helping you become a more accomplished mountain rider and creating memories with The Col Collective that will live with you forever.

WHO’S IT FOR?

This week is designed for intermediate level riders, guiding you around the greatest climbs made famous by the Tour de France. We’re blessed with having so many options from the door to stretch your limits and keep you hungry for more. If you’ve ridden in the mountains before and are comfortable riding 4-5 hours per day then this is the week for you. We won’t be racing up any climbs so you can set your own pace and we’ll be there to support you all the way to the summit. Typically each day consists of 1 to 3 climbs, 100km to 130km, with 2,000m to 3,000m of ascending. We’ve structured the week to allow recovery time following bigger days so you can truly enjoy this beautiful region and get the most from the week.


Dates & Prices

We’ll be hosting three Grand Cols weeks in 2018, all are 7 night trips and have a maximum group size of just 8 riders, with 2-3 guides, so that we can really support you in true Col Collective style throughout the week.

DATES:

9th - 16th June 2018 (7 nights)

13th - 20th July 2018 (7 nights)

23rd - 30th August 2018 (7 nights)

PRICE:

€2,550 per person - based on twin share, includes our exclusive Col Collective mountain essentials kit bag worth over €850! See ‘what’s included’ for details.

€500 - single supplement. As we have limited rooms in our guest house please contact us in advance to confirm availability.

10% discount for non-riding partners.

5% discount for group bookings of 3 or more.


What’s Included

  • 7 nights boutique style accommodation at The Col Collective guest house based on a twin share basis. We are a small but beautifully formed guest house therefore single supplement rooms are limited. Please enquire and we will do our best to accommodate. See more about the house in “accommodation”.
  • Personal airport collection and transfers from Toulouse. Arrangements can be made for Lourdes airport or Lourdes train station. For those flying to Paris a TGV rail service is available to Lourdes.
  • Hearty “cyclist” breakfast to get the day started (our local bakery is the stuff of legend).
  • 6 home cooked and healthy evening meals using fresh local produce - including beer, house wine and soft drinks.
  • Fully guided rides with Mike and The Col Collective team each day including on the road support vehicle.
  • TORQ nutrition energy products with guidance on fuelling on and off the bike.
  • TORQ recovery shake plus post ride snacks and hydration.
  • Daily use of NormaTec recovery “moon” boots.
  • Professional photos capturing the spirit of your time with The Col Collective in the mountains.
  • Daily kit wash.
  • Bike wash facilities, tools, workshop and secure storage.
  • Words of wisdom, help, advice and education throughout the week from Mike and The Col Collective team.
  • The latest Mavic UST and Cannondale product to test (limited models and supply).
  • Lezyne GPS test units.

The Col Collective premium mountain essentials kit bag worth over €850!
We are very proud to be able to offer a truly exceptional package from our partners to help you in every area of your cycling. This kit includes:

  • The Col Collective cycling kit* (jersey and shorts) manufactured by Mavic (€260)
  • Lezyne roadside essentials* (€75)
  • Scicon custom kit bag* (€120)
  • Exposure Lights Trace and TraceR custom Col Collective light kit* (€135)
  • Muc-Off Ultra Endurance, Recovery, Chamois Cream and Hydrodynamic lube (€100)
  • TORQ nutrition pack to allow you to fuel properly and scientifically throughout the week (€100)
  • 6 months free access on all new subscriptions to The Sufferfest training app to help you get ready for the mountains (€60)

* The Col Collective Limited Edition

PLUS! Access to preferential Col Collective partner pricing**

  • 25% off Mavic wheel systems and rider equipment up to €2,000 (€500 saving).
  • 25% off selected Scicon products. Available in advance if needing to buy a bike box or bag to travel.
  • 20% off Muc-Off.
  • 15% off InfoCrank and access to their MyPower training suite (€240 saving). Available in advance if wishing to fit the InfoCrank prior to cycling tour.

** Limitations may apply and can be confirmed prior to booking.

For 2018 we’re currently working on the full contents of our mountain essentials kit bag. Some items may change subject to availability but the value will be equivalent, or more, than quoted.


What’s not included

  • Your flights and travel arrangements
  • Bike hire. Please contact us to arrange if required
  • Travel and personal insurance
  • One evening meal with drinks when we eat out (the chef needs a night off)
  • Additional sustenance outside of what’s listed above

Itinerary

THE WEEK IN BRIEF > 12 Cols / 615km / 12,900m elevation

Day 1 - Collection from Toulouse airport at midday, bike build and light spin to loosen the legs and get ready for the week
Day 2 - Col des Bordères, Soulor and Aubisque including Cirque du Litor > 100km / 2,000m elevation
Day 3 - Col du Tourmalet from Saint Marie de Campan and Luz Ardiden > 125km / 3,000m elevation
Day 4 - Hautacam > 60km / 1,100m elevation
Day 5 - Transfer to Bagnères de Luchon > Superbagnères, Peyresourde & Aspin > 120km / 3,000m elevation
Day 6 - Hourquette d’Ancizan and Col d’Aspin from Campan > 110km 2,000m elevation
Day 7 - Col du Tourmalet from Luz Saint Sauveur > 100km / 1,800m elevation
Day 8 - Final big breakfast, high fives, bike packing and transfer back to Toulouse airport for 12pm noon drop off

Learn more about some of the climbs you’ll conquer throughout the week here.


Day 1

Arriving in Toulouse we’ll collect you and your bike at midday. Snacks and light refreshments will be available on arrival at The Col Collective HQ where we’ll have time to get the bikes built and prepped before a gentle leg loosener ride (the Tourmalet will have to wait another day!) If you prefer to relax by the pool or catch up on recovery after travelling then no problem. Today is an easy day to get you ready for the week ahead. Over dinner Mike will chat you through the schedule for the coming days and no doubt a few tall tales will be told along the way.

Day 2

The Cirque du Litor is one of the most picturesque roads in the world, joining the famous Col d’Aubisque and beautiful Col du Soulor along what appears to be no more than a craggy cliff edge. Steeped in Tour de France history, it first featured in the 1910 Tour during an unfathomable 326km stage from Bagnères de Luchon to the Atlantic coast. A gentle start will allow the legs to come around after travelling the day prior before tackling the lesser known Col des Bordères. The Soulor’s steady gradient takes you deeper into the mountains as you really start to feel the power and beauty of your surrounds. Ride in awe at the Cirque du Litor before taking a breather for coffee and Gâteau Basque at the summit of the Aubisque. Now awaits the first big descent of the week and what an absolute stunner it is.

Day 3

Today we’re heading to Saint Marie de Campan, the town where in 1913 during the Tour de France Eugène Christophe repaired his broken forks at a local blacksmiths only to be given a fine by the race organisers for having outside assistance when he needed an extra pair of hands to operate the bellows! And you thought life was unfair? A flat 30km start will allow breakfast to digest well before the road starts to tilt skywards and your superman or woman eye lasers fix themselves firmly on the summit of the legendary Col du Tourmalet. Arguably the most iconic col in Tour de France history the Tourmalet is a big test - 17km long with an average gradient of 7.4%. The highest road pass in the French Pyrénées at 2,115m, making it to the summit and gazing out at the view is worth a million laboured pedal strokes every time.

With time to recover at the summit, we’ll descend to Luz Saint Sauveur for a systems check. How are you feeling? Another climb? Let’s do this! Luz Ardiden, also known as the Alpe d’Huez of the Pyrenees for its similar stats in terms of length and elevation gain (OK, it has 30 bends as opposed to ADH’s 21 but who’s counting?) This is where the once great Lance Armstrong got taken down by a spectator’s rogue musette in the 2003 Tour de France which led to a furious chase back to the peloton before going on to win the stage. Fairytale stuff (quite literally).

Day 4

After the last two big days in the saddle it’s time to taper things back a notch to allow you to recover. OK, so that’s the theory. The reality is today we’ll take a ride up Hautacam, a climb that’s known as one of the toughest there is with its fluctuating gradient and steep pitches that make finding a rhythm almost impossible. Rolling out to Argèles Gazost provides the perfect warm up. As it’s a ski station summit you can choose to push it on or hold back to enjoy the views. We’ll meet at the top for a Col Collective selfie and a coffee stop before descending back to Argelès Gazost. Afternoon recovery, extra time by the pool, bike maintenance or a Q&A on training, nutrition, technique or anything else you need help with is all optional. We keep this day a little shorter to give you extra time to recover and prepare for tomorrow’s triple bill.

    Day 5

    A short transfer in The Col Collective team cars to the spa town of Bagnères de Luchon starts the day where a trio of cols await. Starting with Superbagnères, its relative anonymity nestled amongst better known climbs feels like a secret Pyrenean gift that just keeps getting better the higher you climb, and one that’s surrounded by no less than 15 peaks above 3,000m! The Peyresourde on the other hand needs little introduction as one of the oldest cols in Tour de France history, taking us from the Hautes-Garonne back to the Hautes Pyrénées, with a well deserved crêpe stop at the summit (of course!) Coupled up with the eastern side of the Aspin from Arreau this is going to be a big and beautiful day in the saddle and a real adventure col conquering from Luchon back to base.

    Day 6

    Although Hourquette d’Ancizan may be a less familiar ascent it’s one that caught me by surprise with its unbelievable serenity the first time I rode it. Memories of that day always put me in a good place so I wanted to share that same experience with you all. We’ll start the day by rolling out through the Campan valley where we’ll tackle the first 5 km of the Col d’Aspin. An unassuming right hand turn takes us away from the main road and into a world of cycling magnificence. As the road meanders deeper into the wilderness it’s 8km to the 1,564m high summit. Breath deep, the mountain air is so pure it’s invigorating. We’ll pick up the Aspin once again from where we left it to ride Hourquette, 5km from its 1,489m summit, where the road opens up and you’re gifted with sensational views of the Pic du Midi de Bigorre (2,877m) and by the top unforgettable views of the Louron and Aure valleys.

    Day 7

    The final big one and to be honest there’s no other way to finish the week than with the legendary Col du Tourmalet, this time from Luz Saint Sauveur. The name may be the same but from the west it has a very different character than from Saint Marie de Campan. At 19km in length the early slopes can often be a harder battle mentally than physically, knowing how far you have to climb. Keep the faith (and your composure) you can do it! Soak up the Tourmalet, bask in its history, be proud of yourself for a magical week in the mountains as the Pic du Midi comes into view it’s time for one last victory salute. C’est magnifique!

    Day 8

    After the mother of all breakfasts, it’s time to pack and prepare for a transfer back to Toulouse airport for a midday drop off.


    This is a general itinerary to give you a good idea of what to expect. We may make some adjustments if we think we can further improve the week or if we need to dodge Mother Nature at any time. There’ll be options throughout the week to make days longer or shorter (with transfers to or from climbs) depending on how you’re feeling so rest assured we’re here to look after you.


    About the house

    Located in the heart of the Hautes Pyrénées with views towards the 2,877m Pic du Midi de Bigorre, The Col Collective guest house is a perfect base for cyclists looking to tackle the most prestigious Hors Catégorie climbs, gentle rolling roads or even flatter farmlands that give this area so much charm and character.

    We have 5 beautifully appointed en-suite guest bedrooms which can hold a total of 12 people. All of our rooms are named after local peaks or cols and each bring their own unique feel of the Hautes Pyrénées to life.

    4 rooms are located in the Grange and 1 room is located in the Maison de Maître. All are warmly appointed and allow for peaceful relaxation and recovery after a great day of cycling. Each room is private and spacious and offers flexible accommodation with the choice of either two single beds or one super king size bed. Complimentary services available in each room include:

    • Stretch mats and foam roller
    • NormaTec recovery system
    • Tea and coffee making facilities
    • Hairdryer…..gotta look good off the bike
    • Safe for valuables
    • Bathrobes and slippers
    • Towels
    • Soap and shampoo
    • WIFI
    • TV

    Après velo we welcome you to enjoy our heated pool, also known as ’the recovery zone’, cultivate your tan lines in our generously sized courtyard or take a spin into town for a coffee and culture.


    I wanted to thank you again for an amazing week. I returned home recharged, inspired, and ready to take on all my normal responsibilities in life. Your passion and hard work made the trip more than a cycling experience, and something I've reflected on numerous times over the past week. Watching you work together to make a week tour the best it can possibility be for 5 random strangers simply blew me away. ”
    Lance - USA
    Hi, please let me know when you have firmed up the dates for 2018. I plan to return for another week with you. I am still reliving my trip and cannot tell enough people what a fantastic trip it was. Perhaps I will have a small contingent of Calgarians joining me. ”
    Alex - Canada
    Some of the pics you took are magazine quality, and I'd like to put them in my slide show. Maybe I can get a few of my friends to join us next year? I definitely want to! I think about that week every day! P.S. Please say "hello" to Jerome (I really enjoyed riding with him and his sense of humor too).”
    Herb - USA
    I had a blast and still can't stop thinking about how much fun the trip was. You guys really made us feel welcome and felt like we were with friends not tour operators!!”
    Jason - Australia
    Miss you all after a wonderful week, I feel sad but happy to have met you all! Thank you so much for an unforgettable week with you, Deb and Jerome. Hope to be back soon if possible.”
    Luis - Galicia
    Hope you are having some quality catch up time after the craziness of last week. You really are the best hosts that any cycling enthusiast could wish for!!”
    Martine - Ireland
    I just wanted to say thanks again to you, Mike and Jérôme for an absolutely amazing week that I will never forget! It was my first proper cycling holiday and it was far beyond my expectations! Not only the scenery was out of this world but the support on the rides and back at the house definitely played a huge part in making it all possible, even more so as it was my first time in the mountains. I don't think I've ever met anyone more dedicated and more passionate about what they do than you and Mike and so that also was very inspirational. Also I wanted to say thank you again to Mike for that last big ride where he took me on some of his favourite roads and really pushed me to the limit. Thanks to that I've discovered more about what I can do and that you can always push further.”
    Anthony - UK
    Chez Cotty was an inspiration made by the lovely people in it. The best moment of my life sits 2000m above the clouds at the peak of the Tourmalet. Thanks for making memories of a lifetime both on and off the saddle. ”
    Cormac - UK
    We had such a lovely time staying with you. I’ve had a few passions in my time (photography and skydiving [short-lived!] being two) and compared to either of those cyclists are just the best (and least geeky)! And you guys are top of the tree!! We must present a proper mid-life-crisis amateur look, but there was absolutely no condescension or impatience from Mike or anyone else. Thank you both again SO much for a truly memorable and absolutely brilliant time. Please give us early notice of next season! We will be recommending you to all our friends, but only after we have booked ourselves…”
    James - UK
    I just wanted to thank you both very much for a memorable stay at your lovely place in the Pyrenees. Despite being unable to ride (and I was very sad about that) I still very much enjoyed meeting you guys, imbibing the cycling chat and taking in the beautiful surroundings. Your dedication to cycling raised my spirits, which my pesky illness had been gradually eroding. I was so impressed by the serious work ethic applied to all your endeavours which was inspiring, you made us feel very welcome.”
    Georgina - UK
    Guys, wanted to say a sincere thank you for a great trip. You made us feel more than welcome, it felt like we were staying with friends. The fact that you’re both genuinely great company helped that along! Absolutely love the concept of what you are trying to do, I think you’ve got a nice niche absolutely nailed. ”
    Ian - UK
    I can't even put into words. I can't wait to get back here. I'll be on my bike training away for the next time. People ask me what is was like, honestly words can't do it justice. I can't wait to do it again. Gratitude doesn't scratch the surface. Namaste”
    Jonathan - Canada
    Thanks again to you both for a great few days - you've got a winning formula and am sure you'll have some busy weeks coming up”
    James - UK
    Thank you for hosting our best holiday ever! We had so much fun spending time with you and sharing fond memories of the cols and at the dinner table. We truly appreciate how you welcomed us into your home, your generosity, thoughtfulness and care are amazing.”
    Matt and Ivy - SAN FRANCISCO
    Just wanted to say thanks to you all for hosting us. We had a great time. and the more I sit at my desk, the better the memories!!! You might have a few enquiries come through for next year from some of my friends and colleagues!”
    Matthew - UK
    I cannot thank you enough for your amazing hospitality, your kindness and caring is phenomenal, Maccy has fallen in love with everything. We will be back very soon, massive appreciation of everything”
    Tim - UK
    I wanted to thank you and Mike for hosting us I had such a good time, and was pinching myself that I had the opportunity to visit you. You both are such generous and gracious hosts, and the property is beautiful. The evenings around the dinner table were my favorite moments from the trip because we were all together, which is something of a novelty for me. I'm still laughing at some of the stories you told as it seems you've had some interesting experiences! Thank you so very much”
    Tina - SAN FRANCISCO
    We really enjoyed the whole experience. Thank you for spending so much time with and for taking such great care of us. We look forward to joining another tour in the future!”
    Christine - USA
    Deb & Mike!! Thank you so much for a magical week. I am already missing all the great moments we all had together during this last week! Enjoyed every moment on and off the bike. Congratulations on building such a great structure and life. Wishing you all the happiness and success moving forward.”
    Fabio - Brasil
    Your hospitality and expertise was second to none. I've been away a few times on cycling holidays, and none of the trips come close to the standard you guys provided. You really did think of everything, and made us all feel so very welcome. It just felt like such an easy, relaxed, and happy week, and helped me personally in lots of ways. Thanks for encouraging me to keep going!! I'd love to come back again next summer if there's a similar week (don't think I'd manage the advanced weeks yet!!) Keep me informed. I'll be there in a heartbeat!!”
    Suzanne - Ireland
    Thank you for a genuinely wonderful experience. ”
    Sam - USA
    I had a fantastic time with you all, what a week my friend, unforgettable, not for a second. I appreciate every detail and all you did for me. I am honoured and proud to have ridden and shared these great moments. Thanks for taking care of me and for all your kindness! ”
    Andreas - Switzerland

    Booking Terms

    Please complete the below booking request form so that we can start working with you to confirm your Col Collective cycling tour. We’ll give you a call or send you an email with more details, also prior to booking we can answer any questions that you may have. Once you’re happy and have confirmed the booking we ask for 30% of the full price of the tour at this time, with the remaining balance paid in full 12 weeks before the tour. Changes and cancellations are detailed in our terms and conditions.

    Thank you for your interest. We look forward to welcoming you to our mountains!

    Ride safe,

    Mike Cotty


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