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 Col Collective support, ride with and learn from Mike Cotty on the bike each day and recover and relax après velo back at The Col Collective HQ. 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 from 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 around 2,000m 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 two Grand Cols weeks this season, both are 7 night trips and have a maximum group size of 10 riders so that we can really support you in true Col Collective style throughout the week.

DATES:

10th - 17th June 2017 (7 nights)

16th - 23rd July 2017 (7 nights)

PRICE:

€2,350 per person* - includes our exclusive Col Collective mountain essentials kit bag worth €875! See ‘what’s included’ for details.

*5% discount for group bookings of 3 or more or triple share.


What’s Included

  • 7 nights boutique style accommodation at The Col Collective HQ 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, but in most cases rooms will be on a twin share basis. See more about the house in “accommodation”.
  • Personal airport collection and transfers from Toulouse. Arrangements can be made for Pau and Lourdes airport or Lourdes train station.
  • Hearty “cyclist” breakfast to get the day started (our local bakery is the stuff of legend).
  • 6 home cooked and healthy 3 course evening meals including beer, house wine and soft drinks.
  • Fully guided rides with Mike each day including on the road support vehicle.
  • TORQ nutrition energy and recovery products with guidance on fuelling on and off the bike.
  • Post ride snacks and hydration.
  • Daily use of NormaTec recovery “moon” boots.
  • 30 minute mid week sports massage.
  • Words of wisdom, help, advice and education throughout the week from Mike.
  • Professional photos capturing the essence of the week.
  • Daily kit wash.
  • Bike wash facilities, tools, workshop and secure storage.
  • Use of a Lezyne GPS loaded with routes if required.
  • Mavic and Cannondale test product (limited supply).

The Col Collective premium mountain essentials kit bag worth €875!
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:

  • Mavic Ksyrium Pro jersey and shorts (€250)
  • Lezyne Pressure Drive mini pump and Metal Patch kit* (€50)
  • Scicon Custom Rain Bag* (€120)
  • Exposure Lights Trace and TraceR 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 (€160)
  • 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 InfoCrank and access to their MyPower training suite (€320 saving). Available in advance if wishing to fit the InfoCrank prior to cycling tour.
  • 20% off Muc-Off.

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


What’s not included

  • Your flights and travel arrangements
  • Bike hire (can be arranged)
  • 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 > 11 Cols / 590km / 11,700m 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 d’Aubisque and Soulor including Cirque di Litor > 100km / 1,800m elevation
Day 3 - Col du Tourmalet from Luz St Sauveur and Luz Ardiden > 120km / 2,500m elevation
Day 4 - Hourquette d’Ancizan and Col d’Aspin > 115km 2,000m elevation
Day 5 - Hautacam > 53km / 1,100m elevation
Day 6 - Transfer to Saint Bertrand de Comminges > Port de Bales, Superbagnères and Peyresourde > 105km / 2,500m elevation
Day 7 - Col du Tourmalet from Sainte Marie de Campan loop > 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 300km 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 Aubisque. Ride in awe at the Cirque du Litor before taking a breather for coffee and cake at the summit of the Soulor. Now awaits the first big descent of the week and what an absolute stunner it is. For those feeling strong an option to ride the Col de Spandelles can be added.

Day 3

Today we’re heading south to Luz Saint Sauveur, 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 - 19km long with an average gradient of 7.4%. The highest road pass in the French Pyrenees 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, it’s time to descend back to Luz 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

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 10km to the 1,564m high summit. Breath deep, the mountain air is so pure it’s invigorating. Following an anticlockwise loop we’ll ascend the Aspin from Arreau. Although marginally shorter than from Sainte Marie de Campan at 12km it’s more difficult but (in my opinion) more rewarding with inspiring views all the way to the summit at 1,489m.

Day 5

After three 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 Argeles Gazost provides the perfect warm up. As it’s a dead end climb 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 sports massage, 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.

Day 6

A short transfer in The Col Collective team cars to the ancient village of Saint Bertrand de Comminges, a member of Les Plus Beaux Villages de France (the most beautiful villages in France) takes us to the foot of the Port de Balès. A relative new comer in cycling history, it was little more than a gravel track until 2006 when it was resurfaced after the Tour de France went on the hunt for new challenges for the peloton, and what an unbelievable find. The Balès is special, a seemingly untouched wilderness that crosses into the Haute Garonne by the summit. It’s soon clear why we thought it wise to have a slightly easier day yesterday. The Port de Balès, Superbagnères and Peyresourde triple-dipple add up to over 50km of climbing and 2,500m elevation gain across the day. As we’ll be camping out in Bagnères de Luchon for much of the day there will be plenty of time for refreshments and recovery after each ascent. Let the crêpes at the summit of the Peyresourde guide you home. We’ll jump back in the cars after the final descent for a transfer and well deserved feast back at base.

Day 7

The final big one and to be honest there’s no other way to finish the week than with the Col du Tourmalet from Sainte 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? Soak up the Tourmalet, bask in its history, be proud of yourself 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 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 Pyrenees with views towards the Pic du Midi and Montaigu, The Col Collective HQ 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 10 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 guests flexible accommodation with the choice of either two single beds or one super king size bed. Complimentary services available in each room include:

  • Tea and Coffee making facilities
  • Hairdryer…..gotta look good off the bike
  • Safe for valuables
  • Bathrobes and slippers
  • Towels
  • Soap and Shampoo
  • WIFI
  • TV with French and English channels

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.

* For groups larger than 10, please contact us as we may be able to accommodate this.


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 8 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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