The Col Collective

Vuelta a España Experience

Tour Overview

With the Vuelta a España set to make a rare appearance in the Hautes Pyrénées on August 23rd, we thought there’s no better way to celebrate than with a special Grand Cols week conquering some of the greatest climbs in cycling history including the Aubisque, Aspin, Luz Ardiden, Soulor, Hautacam and friends, with the added excitement of being part of the Stage 9 summit finish on the legendary Col du Tourmalet!

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 vélo back at our period guest house.

This week is all about escaping to the biggest peaks, enjoying the Vuelta vibe and helping you become a more accomplished mountain rider, with laughs and memories that will live with you for a lifetime.

WHO’S IT FOR?

This week is designed for intermediate level riders, guiding you around the greatest climbs in the Hautes Pyrénées. 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 2 climbs, 100km, with 2,000m to 2,500m of ascending, giving yourself time to challenge yourself but (most importantly) enjoy this beautiful region.


Due to COVID19 we’ve had to postpone all tours in 2020 to 2021. We’ll have an updated schedule with full details for 2021 online at the end of October.

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2020 Dates & Prices

With the Vuelta rumoured to make a rare crossing in to France, this will be a unique Grand Cols week limited to a maximum of just 8 riders, with 2-3 guides so that we can really support you in true Col Collective style throughout.

DATES:

Wednesday 19th - Tuesday 25th August 2020 (6 nights) - Just 3 places remaining!

PRICE:

€2,595 per person - based on twin share, includes our exclusive Col Collective mountain essentials premium kit bag! See ‘what’s included’ for details.

€495 - 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% loyalty discount for returning guests and group bookings of 3 or more.


Your stay with us includes

A relaxing environment where we take care of you from start to finish:

  • 6 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. See more about the house in “accommodation”.
  • Personal airport collection and transfers from Toulouse (1 hour 35 transfer to the house). Arrangements can be made for collection from Lourdes train station or airport (10-20 minutes transfer time respectively). For those flying to Paris a ”direct TGV rail service is available to Lourdes train station”.

Tasty and nutritious food, locally sourced and lovingly prepared to satisfy your palate and hunger:

  • Hearty “cyclist” breakfast to get the day started (our local bakery is the stuff of legend).
  • Home cooked healthy evening meals, heartfully prepared using fresh local produce - including beer, house wine and soft drinks.
  • One evening meal out at our award winning local Pyrenean restaurant.
  • Mid-ride mountain coffee stops at our favourite spots.

On the bike fully supported experience:

  • Fully guided rides with Mike and The Col Collective team including professional coaching.
  • Support vehicle on every ride.
  • TORQ nutrition energy products with guidance on fuelling on and off the bike.
  • Numerous and diverse on the road snacks, tailored to your preference.
  • Daily photos capturing the core spirit of your time and achievements with The Col Collective.

A thorough recovery to keep you going longer and stronger:

  • TORQ recovery shake after every ride, plus post ride snacks and hydration.
  • Unlimited daily use of NormaTec recovery “moon” boots.
  • Fresh water swimming pool to cool off and relax your muscles.
  • Post ride recovery yoga and relaxation (optional).
  • Four purring furry friendly cats for extra massage (optional).

Keeping it simple for you:

  • Daily kit wash.
  • Bike valeting service.
  • Workshop, in house mechanic, bike tools and secure storage.
  • Words of wisdom, help, advice and education throughout the week from Mike and The Col Collective team.

The Col Collective mountain essentials premium kit bag!

We are currently working on our 2020 Col Collective kit bag which will include the highest quality mountain essentials gear from our premium partners including limited edition Col Collective jersey, nutrition, lighting, tools and more. In 2019 the value of this kit bag was over €850!

What makes The Col Collective Cycling Tours experience unique?

More than just a cycling tour, an authentic experience

  • Hosting you in our 16th century Pyrenean farm house creates a truly unique and homely environment for you to take a week of relaxation, self-care and incredible mountain challenges. We’re here to share all of our experience with you.
  • Group sizes are kept to a maximum of just 8 riders. This creates a truly personal experience with a 2:1 guest to staff ratio, ensuring that we can offer the absolute highest level of support and service in every area of your week.
  • While the bike riding is an obvious highlight, it’s the before and after that really makes The Col Collective experience unique. From breakfast in our dining room to evening chats in the open air as the sun sets over the mountains, and the scent of our stone baked pizza oven fills the air, we are here as a large family.

More than just a riding event, the experience of riding like a pro without the stress

  • From his childhood, Mike Cotty has lived for the mountains, slowly evolving his passion to become an expert and to be able to share and support you in your own journey to the summit both on and off the bike.
  • Based on his experiences at professional team camps, his connections in the cycling world and with the support of the brands that he’s worked with for many years, we are proud to be able to take care of you like a pro just without the stress of racing. Quite the opposite in fact, we encourage riders to take their time, to savour the moment and let the essence of the mountains run deep inside your soul.
  • Our team will offer you professional advice and guidance on bike skills, techniques, training, nutrition and mental preparation, all tools used by the pros and an increasing part of every day life.

More than just a moment, a lifetime experience to remember forever

  • The Col Collective’s values are deep and simple. We care about health, wellbeing, mindfulness and nature. We believe that by sharing these with you, we support our guests to become better versions of themselves.
  • Sharing our mountain passion and creating the most personal and well supported experience is our number one goal.
  • Join us to simply share the gift of nature and the great outdoors with each other. We will create this uttermost personal experience for and with you.
  • This is what we believe in. This is who we are. This is what we wish to bring to you.

What’s new in 2020?

  • All inclusive meals. Package price includes all main meals at the house and when we eat out, meaning you have more for souvenirs!
  • Optional post ride recovery yoga with The Col Collective’s very own qualified yoga teacher.
  • The Col Collective Coaching > Personal training plans to support you in the lead up to your week in the mountains. (an additional fee applies)
  • The opportunity to take your experience to another level with a helicopter mountain sky ride of a lifetime! (an additional fee applies)

What’s not included

  • Your flights and travel arrangements
  • Bike hire. Please contact us to arrange if required
  • Travel and personal insurance
  • Additional sustenance outside of what’s listed above

Itinerary

THE WEEK IN BRIEF > 9 Cols / 530km / 10,500m 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 du Soulor and Col d’Aubisque including Cirque du Litor (2nd summit of Stage 9) > 100km / 2,000m elevation
Day 3 - Luz Ardiden and Hautacam > 110km / 2,500m elevation
Day 4 - Transfer to Laruns > Col du Pourtalet (first climb of Stage 9) > 85km / 2,000m elevation
Day 5 - Col du Tourmalet with Vuelta Stage 9 summit finish! > 100km / 2,000m elevation
Day 6 - Hourquette d’Ancizan and Col d’Aspin from Campan > 110km 2,000m elevation
Day 7 - 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

Starting the week in style we’ll first ascend the Col du Soulor (1,474m). With its consistent gradient the Soulor is a climb that allows you to really think about what you’re doing, get into a rhythm and enjoy the stunning mountain views. At the summit we’ll pause for refreshments before joining one of the most sensational mountain roads in the world, the unbelievable Cirque du Litor up to the Col d’Aubisque. Built by Napoleon III in the 18th Century the ‘route thermale’ connects the spa towns of Eaux-Bonnes to Argelès-Gazost and has seen much drama in the Tour de France, although this week it’ll see the pros race along it in Stage 9 of the Vuelta! Talk about following in the wheel tracks of legends!

Day 3

Climbing up to 1,715 metres at an average gradient just shy of 8% Luz Ardiden has been the scene of much drama over the years as the pros battle their way to the ski station summit. With a prestigious list of winners including Delgado, Indurain, Virenque, Jalabert, Armstrong and more, its close proximity to Spain means it’s one of the rare climbs that has featured in the Vuelta a España as well as the Tour de France. In fact, it was in the 2003 Tour when Armstrong had a falling out with a spectator’s musette, bringing him to the ground on the early slopes, leading to a frantic chase and eventual stage win…..fairytale stuff indeed. Known as the Alpe d’Huez of the Pyrenees for its similar stats in terms of length and elevation gain (OK, LA has 30 bends as opposed to ADH’s 21 but who’s counting?) it’s with 4 kilometres to go when the summit comes into view and the switchbacks start to flow. This is what we’ve come for! Take a deep breath and let the wonders of Luz Ardiden soothe your soul.

After some well deserved refreshments and a blast back down the Gorge de Luz we’re soon onto the early slopes of Hautacam, with its fluctuating gradient and cheeky pitches, this is a climb that needs careful pacing to get the most from it, allowing you to enjoy the big valley views. We’ll meet at the top for a Col Collective team selfie before allowing gravity to be our best friend on a descent of pure exhilaration!

Day 4

At 1,794m elevation the Col du Pourtalet marks the frontier between Spain and France and is the first big mountain of Stage 9 providing a unique opportunity for us to put our toes onto Spanish soil. A short transfer to Laruns in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques will see us wind our way up the Pourtalet, with its relatively gentle gradient it’s a climb of true wonder with many waterfalls and lakes all peacefully watched over by the 2,884m high Pic du Midi d’Ossau. A loop around the Lanuza Reservoir and incredibly beautiful ascent to Formigal will leave us all in awe before finishing the day with a spectacular 30 km ascent back to Laruns.

    Day 5

    One of the most famous climbs in cycling history, the Col du Tourmalet holds the secret to a million stories and more, and today we plan to add a few more to its fabled slopes as we tackle it from the pretty Pyrenean village of Luz Saint Sauveur. This is the day of our giant Vuelta celebration, climbing the mythical Tourmalet while also watching the pros rocket towards the finish at the 2,115m high summit. Despite being so close, it’s safe for the Vuelta to venture into France but when it does so (and finishes at the top of the Tourmalet!) we simply HAVE to be part of it and we can’t wait to share such an adventure with you!

    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. As the Vuelta takes a rest day, we’ll get the legs turning again by rolling 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

    Following a well earned mountain breakfast bonanza 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 by adding a climb or two, 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
    • Towels
    • Soap and shampoo
    • WIFI

    Après vélo we welcome you to enjoy our 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.


    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
    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
    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 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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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

    Booking Terms

    Please complete the below booking request form so that we can start working with you to confirm your Col Collective cycling adventure. 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

    PLEASE NOTE THAT WE OCCASIONALLY ENCOUNTER AN ISSUE WITH OUR BOOKING FORM. IF YOU DON’T HEAR FROM US WITHIN 48 HOURS PLEASE SEND AN EMAIL TO cycilngtours@thecolcollective.com


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