Colconquerors - Cycling Holidays French Alps

New to Cycling the Alps? Five of our most frequently asked questions by new riders.

New to Cycling the Alps? Five of our most frequently asked questions by new riders.

I’m worried about my level of riding and the others! How do you manage groups and mixed ability on the climbs?

This is without doubt our most frequently asked question from many different levels of riders. Importantly the first part of the answer is that you should not worry about this as you’re paying us to worry about the logistics ensuring all you have to do is ride. Over the years we have learned that everyone has their own climbing pace and it’s hard or even at times impossible to ride at someone else pace. Go too fast and you blow up quickly and go too slow and you don’t feel like you’ve challenged yourself or are on the bike longer than you would like. Once on the climbs riders self select pace and grouping and there are always clear target rendezvous points ahead where reconvening for lunch etc is possible (or not if you just want to head on). We’ll ride between the group all day ensuring that everyone gets what they need from the day. Just to reiterate, you ride we look after the rest.

How far do you ride each day?

Distance is not always a great indicator of effort when riding in the mountains. If you say to us you’d like to ride 100 miles a day yes that’s possible but to get the distance in you’d climb 4000-5000 meters a day which for most is not a reality. We judge our rides by meters climbed and this ranges between 2500-3500 a day for most of the trips. As an example climbing the Galibier from both sides is only around 90km (55 miles) but has the small challenge of 3400 meters of climb depending on the route we use. There are usually options to make days more or less challenging at an individual level.

What level of fitness do I need to cycle in the mountains?

The mountains are a challenging place to cycle but are accessible to all cyclists especially with some good preparation before you arrive. We don’t expect you to be a high category racer but have generally found that those riding around 100 miles a week at home perhaps with some additional gym/spin class type activity generally get a lot from riding here although others cycling less have had an equally great experience. There are of course always challenges as with anything worth doing in life and that’s why we’re here to help you along the way. This can be motivation, training and nutritional advice or more. If you enquire and explain your level and there’s too big a gap between the group we always discuss the options with you so you get the right trip.

What gearing is best for the mountains?

A compact chain-set 50/34 with an 11/28 or 12/30 rear cassette is absolutely the right tool for the job especially if you’re cycling in the alps for the first time. We have lost count of the times years back when people have either gone away saying I wish I’d had that gearing or have made an emergency cassette purchase when here! Even though the gradients are around the 8-9% range (which might be less than you’re used to) in the main having a gear that’s hard to push over say 1.5 to 2 hours on a single climb means you can build up a lot of muscular fatigue for no good reason. With gearing as recommended you have the best of all worlds and be as fresh as you can for the next climb or the next day. It’s all about what’s coming next.

I’m planning on traveling alone, is this okay and how does it work?

Yes it most certainly is. People worry about this but the fact is not everyone can find friends to come away with at suitable times and as such we have plenty of people visit us solo. It’s always relaxed around here and when out on the road. We now have quite a contingent who visited alone and have ended up continuing to ride with each other back at home and even return to us the following year as a group. When at our base in the Alps there is no single supplement as rooms are on a twin share basis. There are certain trips when away from our base when single supplements are applicable.

Continue the discussion...