The Col Collective

Undiscovered Pyrénées

Tour Overview

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. We’ve continually been amazed by what we’ve found when heading into the unknown and now we want to unlock the secrets that we’ve found with you as well. With full support from The Col Collective let us show you another side to the Pyrénées that’ll continue to enrich your soul for years to come.

WHO’S IT FOR?

This week is for those that may have already conquered the more famous cols and are looking to discover new and untapped areas of the Pyrénées. It’s a tough week (over 700km and 13,000m elevation gain) so is not for the faint hearted. A solid level of mountain cycling experience is recommended, with the fitness to ride multiple big days back to back. This week is also perfect for anyone that is training for, or have ambitions of one day taking on a multi-day event such as the Haute Route as the format and level of difficulty will provide excellent experience for such an undertaking. Typically days include 3 climbs, 2,500m of elevation gain and are up to 130km in length. There’s no denying this is going to be a challenging but truly beautiful and rewarding week with The Col Collective.


Dates & Prices

We’ll be hosting one Undiscovered Pyrénées tour in 2018 with a maximum group size of just 8 riders, with 2-3 guides, so that we can really support you in true Col Collective style throughout the week.

DATES:

26th June - 3rd July 2018 (7 nights)

PRICE:

€2,550 per person - based on twin share, includes our exclusive Col Collective mountain essentials kit bag worth over €850! 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

  • 7 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).
  • 6 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 wash facilities, tools, workshop and secure storage.
  • Words of wisdom, help, advice and education throughout the week from Mike and The Col Collective team.
  • The latest Mavic UST wheels and Cannondale product to test (limited models and supply).
  • Lezyne GPS test units.

The Col Collective premium mountain essentials kit bag worth over €850!
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:

  • The Col Collective cycling kit* (jersey and shorts) manufactured by Mavic (€260)
  • Lezyne roadside essentials* (€75)
  • Scicon custom kit bag* (€120)
  • Exposure Lights Trace and TraceR custom Col Collective 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 (€100)
  • 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 Muc-Off.
  • 15% off InfoCrank and access to their MyPower training suite (€240 saving). Available in advance if wishing to fit the InfoCrank prior to cycling tour.

** Limitations may apply and can be confirmed prior to booking.

For 2018 we’re currently working on the full contents of our mountain essentials kit bag. Some items may change subject to availability but the value will be equivalent, or more, than quoted.


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

Itinerary

THE WEEK IN BRIEF > 15 Cols / 720km / 13,000m elevation

Day 1 - Arrival and collection at midday from Toulouse airport, bike build and light spin to loosen the legs and get ready for the week
Day 2 - Col des Bordères, Col du Soulor, Col d’Aubisque and Col de Spandelles > 115km / 2,500m
Day 3 - Col des Tentes, Cirque de Troumouse, Lac des Gloriettes > 125km / 2,500m elevation
Day 4 - Hourquette d’Ancizan and Col d’Aspin > 115km 2,000m elevation
Day 5 - Cauterets and Pont d’Espagne > 80km / 1,200m elevation
Day 6 - Route des Lacs and Col de Beyrède > 130km 2,500m elevation
Day 7 - Tour de Baronnies including Col des Palomiéres and Col du Couret > 115km / 2,000m
Day 8 - All you can eat breakfast (you’ll need it by now), bike packing and transfers back to Toulouse for midday 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 short spin to get the legs turning again after travelling. Today is an easy day to get you ready for the week ahead, and what a week it’s going to be be!

Day 2

The Cirque du Litor is one of the most picturesque roads in the world, joining the famous Col d’Aubisque and beautiful Col du Soulor along what appears to be no more than a craggy cliff edge. Steeped in Tour de France history, it first featured in the 1910 Tour during an unfathomable 326km stage from Bagnères de Luchon to the Atlantic coast. After riding in awe at the Cirque du Litor we have a short descent before heading off the beaten track and along the tiny Route des Spandelles. Set against Pyrénéan picture postcard views the Col de Spandelles is an absolute hidden gem, 10.3km in length on little more than a single width road all the way up to its 1,378m summit set things up perfectly for what’s to come later in the week.

Day 3

Today we head south for one of the most incredible and challenging rides you’ll ever do. A starting point for cols such as the Tourmalet and Luz Ardiden, Luz Saint Sauveur is well versed with cyclists on route to the top of the best known climbs. Often it’s what’s in the other direction that sometimes throws up a surprise or two and that’s exactly the case here as we climb towards the Cirque de Gavarnie’s ancient amphitheatre of rock and eternally flowing waterfalls. Heading deeper into the UNESCO world heritage site the rugged landscape feels untouched and almost out of character as to what you’d expect from the Pyrénées, with wildlife free to roam the road with not a care in the world. Higher than the Tourmalet at 2,208m the road to the Col des Tentes was originally built to join France and Spain, however the Spanish never got around to finishing their side (mañana, mañana). This makes it even quieter and allows us to really appreciate nature, the mountains and the Pyrénées in full purity.

As if it couldn’t get any better, we now head to the largest natural amphitheatre in the Pyrénées for the second half of the ride. Hairpin after hairpin climbing to the Cirque de Troumouse (2,100m) is a true wonder to behold with stunning panoramic views and clean mountain air to make you feel alive. On the way back we’ll take a short detour to Lac des Gloriettes (or as I like to say, Lac des Glorious) visiting this high Pyrénéan lake brings this truly memorable ride to a close.

Day 4

Another one of those unfamiliar faces Hourquette d’Ancizan 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. We’ll start the day by rolling out 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. Following an anticlockwise loop we’ll ascend the Aspin from Arreau. Although marginally shorter than from Sainte Marie de Campan at 12km it’s more difficult but (in my opinion) more rewarding with inspiring views all the way to the summit at 1,489m.

Day 5

After three big days in the saddle it’s time to taper things back a notch to allow some well deserved recovery as we head towards the ski station spa town of Cauterets and to one of the most prized sites of the Pyrénées National Park, the Lutour and Ceriset waterfalls on route to Pont d’Espagne.

Day 6

Today the Pyrénées hosts a pure masterclass as we start in Saint Lary Soulan to follow the sensational Route des Lacs, another rugged untouched diamond in the heart of the Néouvielle massif. With over 70 lakes, cascading waterfalls and an abundance of flora and fauna the climb up to Lac de Cap de Long (2,160m) is nothing short of a revelation as the aroma of mountain pine fills the air. With no kilometre markings to track our progress we have to rely on the natural landmarks, none so great as the Lacet des Écureuils (squirrels hairpin) with 6.3km to go, followed by the Lacet des Myrtilles and the ancient bends of the Lacet des Edelweiss. It’s here where your heart really starts to pound as the scenery sings and Cap de Long’s huge 100m dam comes into view, making it the highest reservoir in the Pyrénées.

Rock strewn landscapes and mountain wilderness continue as we explore the Lac d’ Aubert and Aumar, further unlocking the full mystique of the Route des Lacs. A long descent takes us back to Saint Lary Soulan where we’ll enjoy a moment to recover before tackling the Col d Aspin’s little known next door neighbour, the Col de Beyrède, on a road so small even Google haven’t found it yet and that’s saying something! 11km at 7.1% climbs its way up to 1,417m elevation. No doubt this will be a challenging day out but one that we’re confident will enrich your soul and instil the simple feeling of freedom and exploration within.

Day 7

Now there’s a fair chance you may not have heard of any of these climbs today (cunning as a fox). Once again that’s the beauty of this week, exploring the unknown on some of my favourite roads in the whole of the Pyrénées with beautiful views of the foothills and higher peaks. Winding ourselves deep into the Baronnies these are the local’s roads and they know a thing or two about sniffing out the good stuff. Barely wide enough for a car at best the Baronnies continually undulate dipping in and out of the tree line showing glimpses of mountain beauty as they do. Although the climbs may be lower in elevation this will still prove to be a challenging day in the saddle with little flat, plenty of climbing and roads that we’re sure will throw up an abundance of smiles and surprises along the way.

Day 8

What a week! All that remains now is a huge breakfast, a little bike packing and shuttle back to Toulouse 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 trim the days down 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 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.


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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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

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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