The Col Collective

An Introduction to the Mountains 2019

Tour Overview

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.


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. Typically days are shorter to allow time to practice, featuring one main climb and an average distance of 80km with 1,500m elevation gain. Anyone wishing to really tap into the principles of mountain riding, training, nutrition, use of power, recovery, bike set-up and more will really benefit from this week.

Dates & Price

Following the demand and continued success of this tour we are pleased to offer three Intro to the Mountains weeks in 2019, each of which are 7 days (6 nights) 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.


15th - 21st June 2019 (6 nights) - 4 places remaining

25th - 31st July 2019 (6 nights) - 2 places remaining

26th August - 1st September (6 nights) - 6 places remaining


€2,400 per person - includes our exclusive Col Collective mountain essentials kit bag! 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

  • 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. 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).
  • 5 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 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 valeting service.
  • Workshop, 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 premium mountain essentials kit bag!

We are currently working on our 2019 Col Collective kit bag which will include the highest quality mountain essentials gear from our premium partners including custom limited edition Col Collective jersey, nutrition, lighting, tools and more. In 2018 the value of this kit bag was over €850!

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


THE WEEK IN BRIEF > 6 Cols / 360km / 6,950m elevation

Day 1 - Collection from Toulouse airport at midday, bike build and gentle spin to loosen the legs
Day 2 - Col du Soulor and Cirque du Litor > 80km / 1,250m elevation with an option to include Col d’Aubisque
Day 3 - Luz Ardiden with climbing and descending tuition from Mike Cotty > 60km / 1,200m elevation
Day 4 - Hourquette d’Ancizan and Col d’Aspin > 70km / 1,600m 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.

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 light spin to loosen the legs. 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.

Day 2

It’s now all eyes on the road as we head towards the supremely picturesque Col du Soulor. 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. It’s for this reason we make it the first climb of the week, oh, and because it joins the Cirque du Litor one of the most sensational mountain roads there is! A chance to recover at the summit of the Soulor will allow the option to continue to the Col d’Aubisque before gravity takes over, allowing you to find your flow, and enjoy the ride all the way home.

Day 3

Today we head to Luz Saint Sauveur where we’ll concentrate on climbing and descending techniques on the sinewy slopes of Luz Ardiden. Also known as the Alpe d’Huez of the Pyrenees 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.

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 special place so I wanted to share that same experience with you all. We’ll start the day in the Campan valley where we’ll tackle the first 5km 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 its 1,564m high summit. Breath deep, the mountain air is so pure it’s invigorating. Following an anticlockwise loop we’ll ascend the Col d’Aspin from Arreau with huge views all the way to 1,489m. Aside from having a wonderful day on the bike, the goal today is to give you an opportunity at tackling two climbs in a row.

Day 5

After yesterday’s double-bill, today we’re heading to Hautacam and another classic of the Tour de France. With a fearsome 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 the 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 Pic du Midi and beyond. We’ll spend the afternoon recovering and preparing ourselves for the final big ascent of the Tourmalet tomorrow, with an optional trip to our local bike shop to check out Bernard Hinault’s yellow jersey!

Day 6

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 and 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. Chapeau, you deserve it.

Day 7

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 12pm noon drop off back at Toulouse airport.

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.

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 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:

  • 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.

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
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
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
Thank you for a genuinely wonderful experience.
Sam - USA
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 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
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.
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 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 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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