We are delighted to bring you our Introduction to the Mountains week designed especially for riders with little or no experience of riding the high mountains, but with a passion to do so! You’ve got to start somewhere and The Col Collective would love to help you take that step. With two decades of mountain experience, Mike Cotty will support you throughout the week on and off the bike with practical advice, real world tips and techniques and the opportunity to put everything into practice on some of the greatest and most historic climbs in cycling.
WHO’S IT FOR?
This week is specifically designed for those with limited mountain experience wishing to learn and practice a range of essential techniques, with guidance and tuition from Mike Cotty. Please note this tour is NOT for beginner cyclists, but those with limited mountain experience. Days are a little shorter than on our other tours, featuring one main climb and an average distance of 80km with 1,500m elevation gain. Anyone wishing to tap into the principles of mountain riding, training, nutrition, use of power, recovery, bike set-up and more will definitely benefit from this week.
Following the demand and continued success of this tour we are pleased to offer two Intro to the Mountains weeks in 2020, each of which are 7 days and limited to just 8 people with 2-3 guides so that we can provide our highest level of personal support, especially when giving guidance on techniques and skills.
Sun 14th - Sat 20th June 2020 (6 nights)
Mon 10th - Sun 16th August 2020 (6 nights)
€2,595 per person - includes our exclusive The 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 for group bookings of 3 or more.
A relaxing environment where we take care of you from start to finish:
Tasty and nutritious food, locally sourced and lovingly prepared to satisfy your palate and hunger:
On the bike fully supported experience:
A thorough recovery to keep you going longer and stronger:
Keeping it simple for you:
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
More than just a riding event, the experience of riding like a pro without the stress
More than just a moment, a lifetime experience to remember forever
What’s new in 2020?
THE WEEK IN BRIEF > 7 Cols / 400km / 7,500m elevation
Day 1 - Collection from Toulouse airport at midday, bike build and gentle spin to loosen the legs
Day 2 - Luz Ardiden with climbing and descending tuition from Mike Cotty > 60-90km / 1,200m to 1,500m elevation
Day 3 - Hourquette d’Ancizan and Col d’Aspin > 70-100km / 1,600m to 2,000m elevation
Day 4 - Col du Soulor and Cirque du Litor to Col d’Aubisque > 95km / 1,750m elevation
Day 5 - Hautacam > 60km / 1,100m elevation
Day 6 - Col du Tourmalet from Luz Saint Sauveur > 100km / 1,800m elevation
Day 7 - Well deserved breakfast feast, bike packing and transfer to Toulouse airport for 12pm noon drop off
Learn more about some of the climbs you’ll conquer throughout the week here.
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 light spin to loosen the legs. Relaxing by the pool or catching up on recovery after travelling is also an option. 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.
We’ll start the week with a session on climbing and descending techniques on the sinewy slopes of Luz Ardiden. Also known as the Alpe d’Huez of the Pyrénées for its similar character (albeit with 30 bends as opposed to Alpe d’Huez’s 21) this is where the once great Lance Armstrong clipped a spectator in the 2003 Tour de France. Perhaps a technique masterclass from The Col Collective could’ve helped the Texan that day (hee-hee). As it climbs to the ski-station there’s little need to go there unless you’re cycling. This means that we should have the road to ourselves, excellent for the uphill and even better for practicing cornering and descending skills where staying relaxed and confident is your biggest friend. We’ll spend time understanding the essentials, learning techniques that you can put into practice throughout the week and beyond.
Undoubtedly one of the most beautiful climbs in the region, Hourquette d’Ancizan has a kind of soothing effect on the body and mind and it’s for this reason that we simply love to share it with as many riders as we can. We’ll start the day in the Campan valley where we have a gentle warm up ascending the first 6.5 kilometres of the Col d’Aspin to Lac de Payolle. An unassuming right hand turn takes us away from the Aspin and into a world of cycling magnificence as the road meanders for 8km to its 1,564m high summit. Breath deep, the mountain air is so pure it’s invigorating. With vast valley views in all directions, after mixing it with the locals at the summit (that’ll be the donkeys) we’ll retrace our steps to ascend the remaining 5km of the Aspin up to 1,489m. With the grand 2,877m high Pic du Midi de Bigorre peacefully watching over us the goal today is to give you the opportunity to tackle two incredible climbs in a row.
It’s now all eyes on the road as we head towards the supremely picturesque Col du Soulor (1,474m). With its consistent gradient, the Soulor is a beautiful ascent and one that allows you to really think about what you’re doing, find the right pace, 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, more on that from one of Mike’s (many) dinner time stories! The focus today is about breaking the ride down into sections and managing both your mental and physical efforts.
Today we’re heading to Hautacam and another classic of the Tour de France. With a cheeky reputation for its undulating gradient and steep pitches Hautacam is a great backdrop to practice climbing techniques and pacing with a very different character to climbs that offer a more regular and sustained effort. Another ski station finish means traffic is virtually non existent allowing you to focus on your form and (most importantly) views towards the Val d’Azun and beyond. We’ll spend the afternoon recovering and preparing ourselves for the final big ascent of the Tourmalet tomorrow, with a helicopter mountain sky ride (additional fee applies) or an optional trip to our local bike shop to check out Bernard Hinault’s yellow jersey!
With everything you’ve experienced this week we thought that there’s no better way to put it all into practice and finish the week off in style than with the Col du Tourmalet, arguably the most famous col in Tour de France history. At 19km it’s one of the longer climbs we’ll be doing this week. It will give you an opportunity to tackle the high mountains, where the air becomes even thinner, all the way up to its 2,115m summit. The Tourmalet is an absolute icon and one that we want to help you add your legend to. Soak up the views, bask in its history, be proud of yourself. As the Pic du Midi comes into view it’s time for one last victory salute. You are a champion. Vive le Tourmalet!
There’s no such thing as petit-déjeuner in The Col Collective household, more like énorme-déjeuner! Following the feast it’s time to pack and prepare for a drop off back at Toulouse airport at noon.
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. As this is an introduction to the mountains week there will be plenty of opportunities throughout to learn about more than what’s outlined here, for example the principles of using power, pacing, training, nutrition, recovery and more. We’ll have time to answer all of your questions and can provide practical advice and examples both on and off the bike. There are also opportunities to extend rides each day should you wish to add some extra kilometres and hours to the week.
Located in the heart of the Hautes Pyrénées with views towards the 2,877m Pic du Midi de Bigorre, 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 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:
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.
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 a 30% deposit 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!
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Now in our fourth season, we're proud to bring you all the info on our new 2020 cycling tours. Whatever your level of cycling we'd be proud to share the road with you and help you become a more accomplished mountain rider.
We're very excited to announce our cycling tours schedule for 2020 including brand new experiences on the Tourmalet, at the Vuelta and on the mighty Mont Ventoux!
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.
The French Pyrénées are a wonderland of exploration and intrigue with many areas often overlooked in search of the more famous cols. Our Undiscovered Pyrénées week is all about heading off the beaten track, taming rugged wilderness and riding in awe at what can so easily be missed.
Our Tour de France week will capture the beauty of the mountains and the colours and character of the Tour as it passes through the Pyrénées, combining peaceful yet challenging ride days with the spectacle of the world's biggest bike race.
Our Into the Wild gravel tour is for those that have been bitten by the gravel bug and want to go much deeper off the beaten track, mixing roads with high altitude tracks and trails to get a very different perspective on the wild and rugged landscapes of the Pyrénées.
Proving to be a very popular week our Ultimate Dolomites and Italian Alps tour is back and better than ever in 2020! Conquering the most prestigious peaks in the Dolomites and the legendary Passo Stelvio, if you have a passion for Italy then this is going to be an unforgettable week of cycling, adventure and post ride wellness.
Brand new for 2020, our Taming the Ventoux challenge is for those that wish to conquer all three sides of this mythical mountain in one day to become a member of the prestigious Club des Cinglés.
Our Grand Cols Tourmalet Celebration is for those who wish to be part of the grand opening of the Col du Tourmalet while also conquering the most prestigious peaks in the French Pyrénées.
With the Vuelta a España set to make a rare appearance in the Hautes Pyrénées in 2020, we're all set for a special week together as we conquer the greatest cols including the Tourmalet, Aubisque, Luz Ardiden, Hautacam and friends, with the added excitement of seeing the pros race to a mountain top stage finish!
If you want to create your own truly unique cycling experience with The Col Collective then drop us a line and we can put a bespoke tour together especially for you and your friends.