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Trans Pyrenees Cycle Raid

  • Where?

    France

  • Altitude

    2,115m

  • Duration

    9 days

  • Weather

  • Physical

    P5

  • Technical

    T2

  • P5 - Superlative fitness is called for. Regular, long and intense physical training is required for preparation. Expect long days on the hill of 10-15 hours in testing weather conditions (especially summit day) carrying up to 15-20kg in weight, and or pulling a pulk with exceptional weight.

    Visit our Grading Information page for a full overview.

  • T2 - Consider this a trek, although there may be occasion to use hands for short sections of easy scrambling. No previous climbing or trekking experience is necessary.

    Visit our Grading Information page for a full overview.

  • Overview

  • Date & Prices

  • Pics & Vids

  • Itinerary

  • Kit List

  • FAQ's

Overview

Not for the faint hearted! Over the course of six long days cycling from Hendaye to Argeles-Plagu, the Atlantic to the Mediterranean, we’ll cover 430 miles and gain over 50,000ft of vertical ascent – through the majesty of the French Pyrenees.

You’ve seen them on the TV, now tackle them in real life: during this ride we’ll be taking on many of the classic Pyrenean Cols ridden during the Tour de France. Being the toughest of our European road rides you will need to be at the peak of fitness both to complete and enjoy this challenge. The energy and encouragement you will get from the rest of the group and support team will help you through as will the dramatic mountainscapes, beautiful lakes, heart-pumping ascents and adrenalin-filled descents. We’ll stop for coffee at quintessentially French cafes in sleepy villages with fabulous roadside lunches, and spend evenings relaxing in the comfort of our hotels, with a “demi” to wet our whistles as we watch the sun sets over the mountains.

This trip is a fantastic challenge, but it’s also one of our hardest. You will need to be a keen cyclist who has completed several long distance journeys in the past to get the most enjoyment out of this ride.

Find out more
Trans Pyrenees Cycle Raid Trans Pyrenees Cycle Raid

Date & Prices

We currently have no scheduled dates for this expedition, however if you give the office a call on 0207 1834 360 it would be easy for us to get this up and running.

Included

  • Air travel and transfers
  • Wilier GTR Nera Gialia Bianco carbon road bike or bike shipping for your own bike
  • Qualified Cycle Leaders
  • Bike Mechanic
  • Spare Bike
  • Full support team and vehicles
  • Luggage transfer
  • 8 Nights 2-3* accommodation
  • All Meals except lunch on days 1 and 9
  • GPX Files of the route

Not Included

  • Travel and Bike Insurance
  • Personal equipment
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Personal spending money
  • Items of a personal nature: phone calls, laundry, room service, etc.
  • Unscheduled hotels and restaurant meals
  • Any additional costs associated with leaving the expedition early

Pics & Vids

Itinerary

DAY 1 : Travel to Hendaye

We will settle into our hotel in Hendaye, following our transfer from Toulouse. Hendaye is the most southwesterly town in France, lying within the Pyrénées-Atlantiques region and the most popular starting point for the Raid Pyreneen and a popular destination for families, surfers and walkers.

DAY 2 : Hendaye - Saint Jean Pied-de-Port (approx. 77km)

This is one of the easiest days so it will be a case of ‘getting used to being in the saddle!’ Starting at sea level today’s ride takes us up and over the Col de Saint Ignace 198m high, and at 3km long with a gradient average of 5.6% and max 7%, it’s just long enough to warm up the legs and give you a taste of what’s to come. We will take a moment at the top to enjoy the view back out over the Bay of Biscay before carrying on with our journey east. The Col de Pinodieta – 176m and 3km long with a gradient average of 3.3% and max 7% – is our second climb of the day. Finally we head down to Saint Jean Piedde-Port, for our night stay.

DAY 3 : Saint Jean Pied-de-Port to Hotel Au Bon Coin, (approx 81km)

After a good night’s sleep and hearty breakfast we’re back on the bikes. Today we have a slightly longer distance but with only 881m of height gain it’s the flattest day of the tour! We start our approach into the high passes of the Pyrenees via the Col d’Osqich which at 500m has an average gradient of 5.6% and max 8%, which leads us into the pretty town of Oloron Sainte-Marie before reaching our resting place for the night.

DAY 4 : Hotel au Bon Coin – Luz St Sauveur (approx 90km)

Now that we’re into the groove, we have a longer day today as we get into the heart of the Pyrenees and we have three climbs to tackle. Our route takes us up over the Col de Marie Blanque 1,035m, 15km long, with a gradient average of 4.1% and max 8.5%, then the Col d’Aubisque 1,709m, 16.6km long, with a gradient average of 7.7% and max 10%, (regularly part of the Tour de France, and generally rated an “hors catégorie” climb – which literally means “beyond categorisation”, or an incredibly tough climb!), and the Col du Soulor 1,474m, 19.4km long, with a gradient average of 5.25% and max 11%. As we descend the Soulor we can enjoy the scenery and think of tomorrow’s giants as we ride into Luz St Sauveur, our destination for tonight.

DAY 5 : Luz St Sauveur – Luchon (approx 80km)

A shorter day but by no meansan easier day. Today we tackle some of the iconic cycling greats and ride on some of the highest roads in the Pyrenees. The first being the Col de Tourmalet 2,115m with 19km of ascent and a gradient average of 7.39% and max 10.2%. The Col du Tourmalet is one of the most famous climbs on the Tour de France. It has been featured more than any other pass, starting in 1910 when the Pyrenees were first included. Up to 2012 the tour has visited the Col du Tourmalet a total of 82 times. The total includes two stage finishes at the summit and three at La Mongie. Since 1980 it has been ranked hors catégorie, or exceptional. The Vuelta a España has also crossed the pass several times. Next we tackle the Col d’Aspin 1,489m, 12.8km long, with an average gradient of 5% and a max of 8.3%. The Col de Peyresourde 1,569m, 9.5km long with a gradient average of 7% and max 11%, on which we gain over 900m of height and even though it is short it is still a tough climb.

This is a tough day, but we are rewarded by fantastic cycling, stunning views and a massive sense of achievement. The day ends in the town of Bagneres-de-Luchon, a major player in the history of the Tour de France. Luchon is a spa town in the heart of the Pyrenees, surrounded by steep hills and imposing scenery. Today it has a reputation as an active thermal spa treatment centre – so you could perhaps book yourself in for a welcome treatment for all your hard work so far.

DAY 6 : Luchon – St Girons (approx 80km)

This is one of our shorter days both in distance and altitude gain but it still finds you tackling two fantastic scenic climbs. The Col des Ares 797m, 8.4km long with a gradient average of 3.93% and max 11%, (that most rare of things – a gentle Pyrenean climb) and the Col de Portet d’Aspet 1,069m, 12km, with a gradient average of 5.% and max 13%. Today also sees us passing the monument commemorating the death of Fabio Casartelli, one of only a small number of people who have lost their lives while competing in the Tour de France. After taking a moment or two to reflect we head down to St Girons for the night.

DAY 7 : St Girons – Ax-Les-Thermes (approx 113km)

Today we have another two great climbs starting with the Col d’Agnes 1570m, 10.2km long, with a gradient average of 8.1% and max 10.6%. Next is the Col de Port 1250m, 12.8km long, with a gradient average of 4.7% and max 6.5%, a very popular pass with touring cyclists. The day ends in the Spa town of Ax les Thermes where we can prepare for our last day of cycling.

DAY 8 : Ax-Les-Thermes – Argeles sur Mer (approx.142km)

Today our last day is our longest day, we have four climbs beginning with the second highest of the trip, the Port de Pailhères 2,001m, 18.6 long, with a gradient average of 6.9% and max 10.5%, before we reach the slightly less challenging Col de Moulis 1,099m, and the Col de Garavel 1,256m. Finally, one last big climb up to the Col de Jau 1,506m, 13.6km long, with a gradient average of 6% and max 8.3%. Now it’s all downhill from here and we head down to the Mediterranean coast to celebrate our achievement in the beautiful town of Argeles sur Mer. In the evening we will have a group celebration dinner to finish off the trip.

DAY 9 : Transfer to Airport

Transfer back to Toulouse in plenty of time for the flight home.

These are subject to minor changes depending on weather, group dynamics and fitness and so on, but the itinerary outlined provides an excellent indication of the challenge and what you will experience.

Kit List

Headwear

Sunglasses

Julbo is our preferred supplier

Sunblock

High factor as the sun is reflected off the road into your face

Upper Body

Cycling gloves

Blister prevention and to keep them warm in cold spells – also compulsory

Cycling jersey

Quantity: 3

Wicking base layer

These are designed to draw sweat away from your body to keep your skin dry and warm

Fleece top

Another thermal layer in the event of cold spells, and useful for when you stop. To be carried with you on the bike

High viz top

With BS EN471 Class 2 Standard label. Compulsory to carry one in France at all times and must be worn when the weather is grey

Waterproof jacket

Avoid getting wet when it rains or you will get cold quickly. To be carried with you on the bike

Lower Body

Cycling shorts

Or better still 1 pair for each day of riding as washing is difficult at hotels. Spend more to get more padding so you can sit easy at night!

Cycling tights

These are a thermal layer to keep you warm if the temperature drops

Waterproof trousers

Avoid getting wet when it rains or you will get cold quickly. To be carried with you on the bike

Feet

Cycling shoes and over shoes

Assuming you have cleat pedals, otherwise trainers or similar

Socks

Change of socks

Technical Equipment

Bike (available to borrow from 360)

Bring your own bike if you are intent on not hiring one of ours

Cycle helmet

This is compulsory.  See our FAQ’s.

Hydration

Water bottles / bladder

Bottle holders and drink bottles. You need to be well hydrated

Quantity: 2

Evening Wear

Evening clothes

Clothes for the evening such as casual shorts, T- shirts etc.

Shoes for the evening

Comfortable foot wear for the evenings after a long day’s cycling

Toiletries

Wet wipes biking

Useful for degreasing your hands after putting your chain back on or after lunch

Chamois cream/Vaseline/Body Glide

Vital anti chaffing!!

Mosquito/Insect repellent

Just in case

Ear plugs

For protection against the inevitable snorers!

Wash kit

Personal wash kit and toiletries

Medications

Personal medication

To be carried with you on the bike

Personal first aid kit

E.g. plasters, deep heat gel, ibuprofen and pain killers

Misceallaneous

Bike lights

To be carried with you on the bike

Inner tubes

We do carry spares but we ask you to turn up with a couple. Inner tubes to be carried with you on the bike

Mini bike pump

Attached to your bike

Multi tool

Including allen keys. To be carried with you on the bike

Puncture repair kit

To be carried with you on the bike

Reflective clothing

To be carried with you on the bike

Waterproof pocket or wallet for passport

(If you intend to carry it with you)

Snacks

For when your energy levels flag and you need a pick me up

Entertainment

A book or other entertainment for evenings

Camera

Bring plenty of spare batteries and memory cards

European plug adapter

Documentation

Passport

Don’t forget this! Your passport should have at least 6 months validity.  With your passport expiry date at least six months after the final day of travel.

Copy of passport

Just in case

EH1C (formerly E111)

To be carried with you on the bike

Travel insurance

Copy of own travel insurance details.  And relevant contact numbers.

We have a partnership with True Traveller and would recommend that you contact them when looking for travel insurance for your trip with 360. However, it is vital that you ensure that the insurance cover they offer is suitable for you, taking your personal circumstances (items to be insured, cancellation cover, medical history) into account. Many other insurance providers are available and we do recommend that you shop around to get the best cover for you on the expedition you are undertaking.

It is your responsibility to ensure that you have the appropriate insurance for your intended trip.  To include medical evacuation and coverage up to the maximum altitude of this trip.

Money

To be carried with you on the bike.

Credit card

To be carried with you on the bike.

FAQ's

Guides

What are the guides like?

This Pyrennean Raid is being led by extremely experienced guides who have cycled competitively on the world circuit. They live in the Pyrenees and know the area intimately. They will be there to set the pace when needed, motivate you at the back when the going gets tough, and share your exhilaration at the top of the cols.

Do we have support team?

From the very start when you booked your place on this trip to the moment we head for the airport from Argeles-Plage you will be in the capable hands of experienced 360 Staff. They are motivated, friendly and approachable, and have extensive experience of these kind of challenges. While out on the road the support team also have great back up from the office with a 24 hour emergency number just in case.

Back up team numbers and number of vehicles vary depending on the group size and the logistics of the route, but they are there to look after the running of the trip and all the aspects that are involved. From luggage transportation, motivation, to puncture repair, the back-up team are there to help you enjoy and complete your challenge.

Will the support team help with bike maintenance?

The other big job for the back-up team is to keep your bike on the road so you can keep pedaling! We carry a range of spares, but nowadays there are so many different variations of things, it is difficult for us to stock everything, so we do ask if you have brought your own bike and has anything a little different on it, please bring the spares that would be needed! We are more than happy to fix it if we have the bits.

Food and Water

What is the food like on the trip?

We feel to help give you a “true taste” of the country you are in, we use as much local produce as possible. With our catering staff shopping daily for fresh produce there is plenty of opportunity to ask for different things. All meals except the ones mentioned on the itinerary are provided, breakfasts and dinners are provided by the hotels and our staff provide a fresh baguette lunch each day.

What sort of snacks and food are there at the water stops?

Water and squash as standard along with fruit, flapjacks, cakes and / or biscuits. On colder days we’ll give you some hot drinks too. If you’re a fan of the powdered energy drinks from SIS or similar, please bring those along yourselves.

What will we be eating?

Breakfasts are the classic French continental breakfast. Think croissants, baguette, cheeses, hams and jams, and there is normally plenty of it. If you like to have porridge in the mornings we recommend you bring tubs or sachets of instant stuff so you can just add hot water as porridge isn’t really a French thing. Lunch is hearty baguettes with fruit and snacks, and dinners are tradition French meals. We can of course cater for vegetarians and other dietary requirements – as long as you let us know in advance! If you are vegetarian we would remind you that the French don’t really get the concept of vegetarianism and even though we suggest menus at the hotels they are not always produced so you may eat similar meals on each night.

Accommodation

What type of accommodation will I be staying in?

For the four nights of the trip we will be using 2 or 3 star en-suite hotel accommodation on a twin room basis (if you would like a room to yourself, we can arrange that for a supplementary fee). We are sometimes restricted with our choices due to the route so standards may vary a little during the trip we but aim to find comfortable accommodation wherever we’re staying.

Will I be sharing a room?

Yes. All accommodation on the trip is shared (unless you pay a single supplement rate). If you have a friend on the ride then we will accommodate you in the same room.

Health and Safety

What happens if I get tired?

A support vehicle will be bringing up the rear of the group on the cycle ride ensuring no-one is left alone – remember though, this is not a race!

Do I need any vaccinations?

There are no major vaccinations required for this trip but you should have an up to date Tetanus in case you graze your legs in a fall.

Do I need an EHIC Card?

If you are a U.K. citizen you should also carry your EHIC Card (which used to be called the E111) and make sure you carry it with you while on your bike as if you are in an accident the hospital may want to see it upon admission. You will also be asked to complete a pre-trip medical questionnaire that we ask you to update if anything changes.

We also ask that if you have any personal medication that you might need during the day you make sure you are carrying it on the bike and that the support crew are aware.

Kit

Is the bike hire included in the cost?

Included in the cost of the Raid is a top-spec carbon fibre road bike for your use. The bikes you take from us have often been better than our clients own bikes and meticulously maintained. We’ll need a few measurements from you when you sign up in order to get the right size frame. Please bring your own helmets and pedals (if you want cleats).

The bike: Wilier GTR Nera Gialia Bianco carbon road bike specification:

  • FRAME – full carbon composite
  • FORK – carbon
  • GROUP SET – Shimano Ultegra
  • CASSETTE – 11/28
  • FRONT CHAIN RING – 50/34
  • WEIGHT – 7.3-7.9kg (depending on size)
  • BOTTOM BRACKET – Shimano BB86
  • PEDALS – we recommend bringing your own pedals as we only have standard flat pedals
  • WHEELS – Shimano RS10
  • HANDLEBARS – FSA
  • SEAT POST – FSA
  • SEAT – Selle Italia X1
  • TYRES – Vittoria Zaffiro 23mm

If you really are dead set on bringing your own bike the shipping cost to take it on the plane is included in the package. You will be responsible for its safe shipping to and from France back to UK.

What happens to my luggage?

There will be support vehicles with the group at all times and your luggage will be transported in one of these vehicles for you. However, once you have left your main bag in the morning you will not be able to access it until you get to the hotel in the afternoon. All you need with you is a bum bag for any essentials like a camera, money, personal medication and sun tan lotion. Space is limited in the luggage vans so we ask you not to bring suitcases but stick to soft duffel bags or kitbags and not one that is precious to you as they may be put on the bottom of the pile. Your bag should weigh no more than 15kg.

Any advice on kit?

It is a rule that while cycling you must wear a cycle helmet and the average seasoned cyclist wouldn’t be seen in the saddle on the open road without one. There is a two strike rule – if the back-up team see you riding without a helmet twice then you will be asked to retire from the event. This is entirely based on safety reasons. During the trip you could be exposed to extremes of weather so we encourage you to be as prepared as possible to handle those extremes and remember they can change very quickly.

We have provided a kit list in this document, if you have any concerns or questions about kit please do not hesitate to get in touch.

The Trip

Is the trip for me?

This trip is a fantastic challenge, but is one of our hardest cycle challenges covering over 660km during the course of seven days and gaining over 15,000m in height, cycling from the Atlantic Coast to the Mediterranean. You will need to be a keen cyclist who has completed several long distance rides in the past to get the most enjoyment out of this ride.

How fit do I need to be?

You don’t need to be a winner of the Tour de France to do this ride, but you will need a high level of fitness to deal with the distance and ascents.

Is there a minimum/maximum age to take part?

The minimum age to take part is 18 and there is not a maximum age limit but if you are over 65 years you will need to provide us with a medical certificate of fitness from your doctor.

What is a normal day on the trip?

Normally the day would start with a wake up call and then breakfast. We ask that on your way down to breakfast you bring down your overnight bag. After breakfast there will be a few minutes to check your bike and tyre pressures. Before you set off there will be a short recap on the dinner briefing and then it is off. Cycling days will be divided into four smaller sections with morning and afternoon water stops and a lunch stop. During the days there may be the opportunity to stop and enjoy local hospitality as well, depending on progress. On arrival at the hotels you will usually find your bag and room ready for you and a member of the team to help with any questions you may have either with your bike or yourself. During dinner you will also have a safety briefing for tomorrow’s ride.

What are the roads and terrain like?

We will be cycling on a mix of roads from busy routes in and out of towns to hair pin mountain roads that seem to go on and on. Most roads have good tarmac, but this can change from season to season depending how harsh the previous winter was.

What is the mileage on a normal day?

Distances vary between 80 to 140km per day, covering 700km in total (distance may vary slightly due to changes of hotels). While you are training we recommend several days of these distances on consecutive days to get used to the this day after day.

How is the route marked?

The route is not marked on this ride, you will be provided with a detailed route map and notes to navigate your way along the route. Navigation is very straightforward due to the number of roads and junctions that we will encounter. Each evening and morning there will also be a briefing on the next section of the ride. You will be given the contact details for the back up team and a safety van will be close by the group at all times. During the ride you will have 3 guides riding with the group to make sure everyone makes the correct turns, and two or three support vehicles hoovering up as necessary.

What is the typical speed of a rider on this trip?

Traditionally this ride attracts a more enthusiastic group of cyclists, who have probably done a fair bit of road work in the UK. The ascents will be slow and tough, the reward will be fast descents, but you need good brakes as those hairpins you saw on the ascent will be repeated going back down hill. Speed on the flat will be similar to what you will have achieved on your UK riding.

Do we get a free day at the end of the ride?

Depending on your flight time you may have a free morning in Argeles-Plage to soak up the atmosphere and dip your toes in the Mediterranean.

Can I stay on after the ride?

You are welcome to stay on for as long as you wish but as we are booking flights on your behalf you’ll need to let us know at the time of registration. You will be responsible for arranging your travel and accommodation arrangements at the end of the challenge. We can give details of the hotel we will be staying in if you would like to remain there.

Insurance

Do I need travel insurance?

You must have travel insurance cover in order to participate on this ride. We will ask you to confirm your details before you leave. You can use this in combination with your EHIC card in order to get the fastest treatment in the event of an accident. Additionally, if you’ve brought your own bike, we suggest your travel insurance also covers any mishaps to your bike, accidents or during shipping.

Entry into Country

Do I need a visa?

You will require a valid ten year passport which must be valid for at least six months from the day you enter France. At the moment there is not a requirement for U.K. citizens to obtain a visa to enter France. This is not the case for other nationalities so if you are not sure you should check the latest requirements.

Training

What training do I need for this trip?

This is a tough ride so the fitter you are the easier it is going to be. It is not just the distances that are hard, it’s getting back on the bike day after day. We’ve provided a little bit of advice about training in the following pages, we know it is not easy to find the time but whatever you do, try and ride your bike as much as possible.

Finance

What does the trip cost cover

The trip costs cover all of your accommodation (twin room basis), all meals except for lunch on days 1 and 8 and while you’re travelling, and luggage transfer. They also include trip support by experienced 360 leaders; support, mechanical and medical staff and vehicles.

General

Where will our bikes be kept at hotels?

In most hotel bikes will be kept in a secure room, otherwise bikes will be locked in the support vans overnight.

I just wanted to thank you as I know you worked incredibly hard before our two events, and we all much appreciated the huge amount of work you and the team put in daily in order to feed us on the go and meet our continuing needs.

Trans Pyrenees Cycle Raid, 2017
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