France – Cycling Trip 2015

Written by Craig Wright on . Posted in News

Long standing club member Kim Vivian is organising a cycling trip to France in July 2015, and is open to additional people joining in to share the experience and make it cost effective for a small group. All the details are below, and any inquiries can be directed to Kim.

alpe dhuez aerial photo

Introduction:

 

I am currently seeking interest in a cycling trip to the French Alps in July 2015.  It will be a 2 week trip which involves cycling up all the famous mountains of the French Alps and catching some of the live action of the Tour de France.  This brochure provides details of what to expect on the trip, along with the likely budget for the holiday.

 

Non-cyclists are welcome to join the tour and they can use the hire cars to drive to the top of the mountains to enjoy the stunning scenery, or they can go for a hike through the countryside or even hit the shops.

 

The group will need to be a minimum size of 6 and a maximum size of 14, so please send me an email (kim.vivian@woodside.com.au) if you are interested in being part of this great cycling adventure, and I will then start organising the finer details for the trip.

 

Itinerary:

 

The trip starts and finishes in Geneva, Switzerland, and you will be responsible for organising your own flights to Geneva.  On previous trips to Europe we have found Emirates to be as good as anyone because they have a 30kg luggage allowance, which means you can transport your bike without paying excess luggage.  The Emirates flight that arrives in Geneva at 13:45 on Saturday 11th July is the ideal flight.

 

Sat 11th July: Arrive Geneva Airport (preferably at 13:45 or similar).  Pick up our hire cars and drive to Bourg Saint Maurice which is approximately 2 hours south.  I will have a van for the transportation of all the bikes.  Check into our hotel in Bourg Saint Maurice and relax with a glass of French wine.

 

Sun 12th July: Put the bikes together, then head out for our first climb which will be up Col du Petit Saint Bernard, with the summit being on the border with Italy.  This is a relatively easy climb, and it will provide a good opportunity to test our bikes and get a bit of blood flowing through our legs.  Total length of the ride will be 62km.  Overnight in Bourg Saint Maurice.

 

Mon 13th July: Cycle Cormet de Roseland and Col du Pre to Beaufort (83km).  This is a ride that rates very highly on everyone’s list of the most beautiful rides.  Overnight in Bourg Saint Maurice.

 

Tues 14th July: Today we will tackle the long climb up La Plagne (66km total distance for the day).  I have always enjoyed doing this climb, but it is relatively tough and it is a good introduction to some of the tougher climbs we have ahead.  Today is Bastille Day, which means we should be able to find a fireworks display in town.  Overnight in Bourg Saint Maurice.

 

Wed 15th July: Cycle Val d’Isere (famous ski resort for the rich and famous) and Col de l’Iseran (100km).  This is basically a 50km continuous climb from our hotel in Bourg Saint Maurice.  The summit will be the highest summit of our trip, so it is likely to be cold.  However the scenery is unbelievable and well worth the effort, and you get to enjoy a 50km descent on the way home.  Overnight in Bourg Saint Maurice.

 

Thu 16th July: Today we will check-out of our hotel and put the bikes in the van then drive down the road to Moutier (30 minute drive).  At this point people will grab their bikes and do a short 5km ride through the valley to get warmed up, then head straight up the Col de la Madeleine.  I will drive the van to the top of the mountain and we will need a few volunteers to drive the cars to the top of the mountain.  We will all enjoy a coffee at the top then put the bikes in the van and drive to our new hotel in Briancon (2 hour drive).  Overnight in Briancon.

 

Fri 17th July: Cycle Col de Lautaret and Col de Galibier from the south (70km).  If you are keen you can continue down the north side of Col de Galibier to Valloire or Col de Telegraph, then reclimb the north side of Col de Galibier (up to 120km).  The climb to Col de Lautaret is relatively gentle but the 8km climb to Col de Galibier is tough.  (The climb from the north side is also tough).  The return journey from Col de Lauteret to Briancon will be the most enjoyable downhill of the holiday.  It consists of a 25km downhill which has sweeping bends, and you should be able to average 60km/hr for this stretch if you are feeling good and if we have good weather conditions.  Overnight in Briancon.

 

Sat 18th July: Cycle Col d’Izoard (100km).  We will cycle through the valley then climb Col d’Izoard from the south.  You will see a few things on this ride you will not see anywhere else.  Overnight in Briancon.

 

Sun 19th July: Today will be an easy day to let the legs recover from our two previous days (30km).  We will cycle up Col de Montgenevre and cross the border into Italy to get a strong Italian coffee or the thickest hot chocolate you will ever experience.  On our return to Briancon we will put the bikes in the van and head south to Bedoin.  This is a 4 hour drive and the countryside down south is totally different to the Alps.  Overnight in Bedoin.

 

Mon 20th July: Cycle Mount Ventoux (south route).  Return via the west route (75km).  Mount Ventoux has a spiritual feel that is unlike any other mountain.  It is a tough 21km climb, with the final 6km done up a mountainside that is totally devoid of vegetation.  British cyclist Tom Simpson died on this mountain 46 years ago during the TdF and there is a memorial 1km from the top that must be visited.  Overnight in Bedoin.

 

Tue 21st July: Today is a good day to grab a car and visit the towns and countryside in the south of France.  Avingon is definitely worth a visit (short drive), or if you are keen for more cycling you could go for an easy ride through the gorges near Bedoin.  Overnight in Bedoin.

 

Wed 22nd July: The enthusiastic cyclists can grab an early start and ride up to the summit of Mount Ventoux (west route) in the opposite direction to the ride on Monday (75km).  We will then need to check-out of our hotel and head north to le Bourg d’Oisans (which is at the base of Alpe d’Huez).  This will be a 3 hour drive.  Overnight in le Bourg d’Oisans.

 

Thu 23rd July: The sensible people will drive to the start of today’s ride, but any hard core riders can add an extra 40km to the ride by starting from our hotel.  We will do the loop of St Jean de Maurienne, Col de Glandon and Col de la Crux de Fur (62km).  The climb to Col de Glandon has cracked the best of riders, therefore this climb should not be underestimated.  Overnight in le Bourg d’Oisans.

 

Fri 24th July: Cycle up the legendary Alp d’Huez.  The climb of Alp d’Huez is 13.8km and has 21 switchbacks.  The keen cyclists can do this as a time trial starting at the official start line of the climb and finishing at the official Tour de France finish line.  This is not the most difficult climb you will do on the trip, but it is likely to be one of the most memorable.  Overnight in le Bourg d’Oisans.

 

Sat 25th July: Pack-up the bikes then head back to Geneva airport in sufficient time to catch an afternoon flight back to Perth.  The drive to Geneva will take 2 hours 15 minutes, and the Emirates flight departs at 15:15.  Therefore there should be plenty of time to enjoy a leisurely drive to end our tour.

 

Tour de France:

 

The route for the 2015 Tour de France will be released in October.  It is highly likely the TdF will pass through the Alps during the final week, which coincides with us being in the Alps.  I will adjust the itinerary once the route of the TdF gets released.

 

One day of watching the live action of the TdF is probably enough because it is a very long and tiring day.  It is likely we will go to our local Patisserie in the morning and pick up some baguettes, cheese and meats, then jump on our bikes and head up whichever mountain the TdF riders are climbing.  We will then enjoy our picnic on the side of the road while experiencing the TdF circus which consists of the “caravan” followed by the helicopters and finally the riders.

 

Cost:

 

A summary of how the costs will work is as follows:

  • You are totally responsible for organising and paying for your flights to and from Geneva.  The airlines typically release “Earlybird” fares in September or October, and you should be able to pick up a return airfare to Europe for approx $2000.
  • I will book the 14 nights of accommodation as noted in the itinerary above.  All bookings will be based on half board, which means you will get a bed (in a double or twin room with private ensuite), breakfast and dinner every day.  The only meals you will need to provide are your lunches each day.
  • Van hire.  This will be split equally between everyone on the tour.
  • Car hire.  The total cost of the cars (hire plus petrol) will be combined at the end of the trip then divided equally between everyone on the tour.  The cars will need to be personally booked by a few of the people on the tour, however I will coordinate who makes the bookings, and provide all details regarding how to book hire cars for pick-up from Geneva airport.
  • Tolls.  Any tolls incurred by the van will be split evenly between everyone.  However tolls for individual cars will be the responsibility of the people in each individual car.  In virtually all cases it will be possible to get from A to B without going on toll roads, however it will generally be quicker on toll roads, hence it will be up to the occupants of each car to decide which route to take.

 

The final cost of the trip will depend on how many people are in the group and what sort of deal I can negotiate with the hotels, but the likely costs are as follows:

 

Item

Cost

No. of Days

Total

Hotel (half board) A$110/day/person

14

A$1540

Van Hire & Petrol A$12/day/person

14

A$168

Car Hire & Petrol A$20/day/person

14

A$240

Total   Cost  

 

A$1948

 

The costs in the table are based on double/twin share.  If any solo travellers want their own room, the cost of the hotel will increase by about 50% for them.

 

You will see that this is significantly cheaper than any bike tour you will find on the internet.  This is because everything is done at cost, and you are not paying for mechanics, tour organisers, etc.  This also means that you will be responsible for your own actions during the trip.  If you get yourself in trouble (ie illness, accident or crime) I will try to help, but you will need to solve your own problems because I will have no group insurance and no responsibility for the group.  Therefore it is important everyone on the trip has their own travel insurance.

 

Alp d’Huez Triathlon:

 

The trip has been scheduled to enable people to compete in the Alp d’Huez Triathlon if they are interested in extending their holiday and competing in one of the most unique triathlons in the world.

 

The swim is in a fresh water lake (that you can see on the cover photo), followed by an interesting bike leg which finishes with the 13km climb up Alp d’Huez, followed by a run through the village of Alp d’Huez (at an altitude of 1800m).  The long course event will be on Wednesday 29th July and the short course will be on Thursday 30th July.  Robyn and I are planning to do the event, and it will be good if others can join us.

 

Expressions of Interest

 

Please send an email to kim.vivian@woodside.com.au by 30th June 2014 if you are interested in being part of the trip, or if you have any questions regarding the trip.  As mentioned at the start, the trip can accommodate a maximum of 14 people, and it will be a great trip for non-cyclists as well as cyclists.

 

I will start booking hotels in July and August, so I will need a deposit of $500 by the end of July to confirm your position on the trip, to enable me to pay the deposit on the hotels I book.