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 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.


Dates & Price

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.

DATES:

Sun 14th - Sat 20th June 2020 (6 nights)

Mon 10th - Sun 16th August 2020 (6 nights)

PRICE:

€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.


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 transiting in 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 > 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.


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. 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.

Day 2

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.

Day 3

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.

Day 4

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.

Day 5

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!

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. 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!

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 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.


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
  • 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.


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.
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
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 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!

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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About The Col Collective Cycling Tours

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.

Quick link to our 2020 cycling tours schedule!

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!

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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.

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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.

Tour de France

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.

Into the Wild Gravel Tour

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.

Ultimate Dolomites & Stelvio

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.

Taming the Ventoux

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.

Tourmalet Celebration

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.

Vuelta a España Experience

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!

Go Bespoke

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.