The Col Collective

An Introduction to the Mountains

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 seminars, 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 beginners or those with limited mountain experience wishing to learn and practice a range of essential techniques with guidance and tuition from Mike Cotty. 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.

Date & Price

Our Introduction to the Mountains week will be 7 days (6 nights) and limited to just 8 people so that we can provide our highest level of personal support, especially when giving guidance on techniques and skills.


21st -27th August 2017 (6 nights) - limited availability


€2,200 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

  • 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, 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).
  • 5 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


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 - Introduction to the mountains. Essential advice and guidance with Mike Cotty. Col du Soulor > 80km / 1,250m elevation
Day 3 - Luz Ardiden with climbing and descending tuition from Mike Cotty > 60km / 1,200m elevation
Day 4 - Hourquette and Aspin > 70km / 1,600m elevation
Day 5 - Hautacam > 53km / 1,100m elevation followed by the science of fuelling and recovery
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 I 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

Following breakfast we’ll start with a short chat about mountain essentials, things to consider, practical tips and real life experiences from Mike. It’s then all eyes on the road as we head towards the supremely picturesque Col du Soulor. Although 22km in length the first 10km are a gentle gradient which helps to get the legs and lungs warmed through. The Soulor is a beautiful ascent and one that allows you to really think about what you’re doing, find the right pace, feel the changes in gradient and adapt to the terrain. 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 in the Soulor cafe 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 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 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 in the recovery zone (poolside) to talk about the science of fuelling and correct nutrition.

Day 6

With everything you’ve learnt 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 experience 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. There’ll be plenty of opportunities to learn about more than what’s outlined here, for example the principles of using power, training, nutrition and more. We can cover everything you need on and off the bike.

About the house

Located in the heart of the Hautes Pyrénées 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, gentler 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

Apres 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 this, please contact us as we may be able to accommodate.

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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