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How to Prepare for Your European Cycling Holiday - Eat Sleep Cycle

How to Prepare for your European Cycling Holiday

By | Cycling | No Comments

Embarking on a European cycling holiday takes a lot of planning but the right preparation is important to ensuring that everything goes smoothly from the first idea to the first pedal stroke. So what is the best way to go about planning your European cycling holiday?

How To Plan A European Cycling Holiday

When considering a cycling holiday there are two methods to beginning the planning process, namely:

  1. Lead with location: One way to plan your holiday is for your dream location to be the base upon which to build the rest of the aspects of your trip. Whether you’ve always angled to visit the Classic Climbs of The Alps or are dying to see the Dolomites, or maybe there’s that one famous climb you’ve always wanted to tackle, knowing where you want to travel could be the first hurdle to putting your trip together.
  2. Dictated by Dates: It may be that work or other restrictions only allow you to take your cycling vacation at a particular time of year or, if you have done your location research well, you know that a particular location is best visited during a particular season. Starting with a set of dates allows you to choose the location wisely based on what time of year is best to visit.

Once you’ve been able to start the planning process by either working from a location or a date the other items to consider for your European cycling holiday are outlined below.

How to plan a cycling holiday - Eat Sleep Cycle

Equipment

What To Consider for European Cycling Vacation - Eat Sleep CycleWhen it comes to equipment for your cycling holiday the age-old question of the jet-setting cyclist will probably be the first consideration:

‘To travel with a bike or not to travel with a bike?’

If travelling with a bike bag seems like a burden and thinking about baggage handlers throwing your precious carbon around leaves you in a cold sweat then the answer is to hire a bike. Hiring leaves the stress out of travelling and allows you to rest easy knowing you have a bike waiting for you dialled in to your measurements and size on the other side. Just remember your own saddle and pedals!

If, however you prefer to stick to what you know and bring your own bike then this can also be a good option if you know what you are doing. When travelling with a bike it’s vital to make sure all parts are protected, especially the derailleur – there’s no such thing as too much bubble wrap!

Your Travelling Partners

If you are travelling with other riders who are either weaker or stronger than you it’s important to factor the mixed ability into the itinerary. If you are travelling with a partner or spouse it’s worth checking out the surrounding area to ensure that there is enough around for them to occupy themselves while you are riding.

Tour Package or Bespoke?

Deciding whether to join a package tour or go for a bespoke cycling tour depends on both the size of your group and how specific you want your itinerary to be. If you are planning your trip as a large club or group then the best way is bespoke but if you are a lone traveller looking to meet new people whilst discovering new places then a package is the ticket.

Nutrition

If you are usually reliant on one type of nutrition to get you through your rides then you need to make sure you order it before the trip to take it with you. Most tour operators provide nutrition which is great for emergencies but you want to make sure you’re consuming something that your body is used to so as not to provoke any adverse reactions!

Stress-Free European Cycling Holidays

If you take all of these important points into consideration then planning your European cycling holiday should be stress-free and simple, allowing you to relax and focus on counting down the days to the first ride on new roads! If this has got you inspired to plan your next cycling vacation then why not view our cycling tours (and top winter cycling destinations) and see what suits your preferences. For more information give us a call on +34 972 649 131 or contact us online to get your plans underway!

P.S. Enjoyed this blog? Why not sign up to receive notifications every time we post and get regular updates on our latest tours!

Eat Sleep Cycle Chapter3 Launch

In Photos: A Busy Weekend at Eat Sleep Cycle!

By | Cycling, Cycling in Spain, ESC Explore, Girona, Lifestyle, News | 2 Comments

What a weekend!! Girona was buzzing with the launch of Chpt3 in the Eat Sleep Cycle Hub on Friday night, followed by the celebration of Eat Sleep Cycle’s anniversary with beautiful rides and a delicious cake on Saturday. Here’s our pick of our favourite photos from the event.

A huge thank you goes out to everyone who’s supported us over the last couple of years – it’s been one hell of a ride!

CHPT3 Launch, 9th November 2019

The fun began on Friday with the launch of CHPT3 in our Girona store; an innovative brand created in Girona by ex-professional cyclist David Millar. With a new collection inspired by the city itself we’re proud to work with Chpt3  and join together in showcasing the best of Girona’s culture and cycling.

Our very own Brian Canty & David Millar welcomed our guests, plied them with cava & beers and together we toasted to the partnership.

Thanks to photographer Phil Dawson for capturing the event:

Anniversary Ride, 10th November 2019

Saturday marked the celebration of our two year anniversary and we celebrated in the only way we know how: a big old bike ride!

One headed to our traditional destination of Mare de Deu del Mont on a gorgeous route totalling 120 km and 2,000 m. For those cyclists needing a little respite a gorgeous route 80 km to Esponella & La Mota was on offer, ably guided by the Godfather of Girona, Peter Gaskill.

The rides were finished off with cake (exquisitely baked by Silvia) and cava glugged from Eat Sleep Cycle bidons back at the Hub.

A huge thank you to those who came out to support the ride, to our volunteer guides, cake baker & to all sending their words of support on social media. May the terrible two’s commence!

Photos by: Phil Dawson & Marco Heemskerk

Thanks for reading, see you out on the road!

P.S. Join our Eat Sleep Cycle Club to get exclusive access to Club Member rides and rewards such as discounts on brands such as Assos and MAAP in The Hub!

Winter Cycling Kit for Southern Spain - Eat Sleep Cycle

Winter Cycling Kit for Southern Spain

By | Cycling, South Spain | No Comments

If you live in the Northern Hemisphere then you will be familiar with the winter ritual of donning multiple layers before a ride in the cold whilst wistfully remembering the days when shorts and a jersey, and possibly a gilet, were all that was required. There is plenty of technical kit out there that will keep you warm on even the coldest of days, but if the rugging up struggle is real and you’ve decided to head to the warmer climes of a winter cycling destination then extra layers can be cast away.

However, before you bin those base layers and get rid of your gloves it’s important to note that a winter trip to Spain doesn’t always mean shorts weather; Girona, although dry and generally warmer can still get chilly, ditto Calpe, whereas Andalucía, Gran Canaria and the Costa del Sol will generally provide higher temperatures. The balance is a tricky one, so here’s our advice on what winter cycling kit you should bring (and leave behind!) for cycling trips to Southern Spain.

What To Bring When Cycling in Southern Spain During WinterWhat to bring when cycling in South Spain in Winter

 

 

Arm and Leg Warmers:
These garments are essential in everywhere but the warmest of climes. Easy to remove or add en-course arm and leg warmers can be lifesavers. Even if you’re heading to the south of Spain it’s wise to pack them in case the mornings are chilly. If you’re heading anywhere further north they are essential kit for those days when the weather doesn’t quite know what it’s doing.

A Buff:
Breathing in cold air is never pleasant. Lightweight and easy to pack the buff is a no-brainer. If you’re headed to Gran Canaria or similar you may not need to utilise it, however anywhere further north (ergo, most places) you will not regret packing one for those chilly morning starts and descents before the sun heats up.

A Gilet
An important piece of clothing for any type of riding, at any time of year especially if mountains are on the menu: what goes up must come down and sometimes that down can get chilly, no matter how high the temperatures. Easy to pop back in your pocket or leave unzipped for ventilation, a gilet is a must.

A Smart Base-Layer:
Possibly one of the most important items as the core dictates overall temperature, a smart base layer can keep you cool when needed or warm when things cool down. The best kinds of fabric are designed to wick away sweat and control temperature. A short-sleeved merino will serve you well in the north whereas a vest-style one will keep that core temp just right in the south.

A Wind/Rain Jacket:
You’ll hope you don’t need it, however much like an umbrella sod’s law dictates that if you don’t take one you’ll get caught out. Even if it (hopefully) stays in your pocket or suitcase a light jacket may prove a hero item if the weather has a bit of a wobbly. Our own unisex Rain Jacket by Sismic is a  great, lightweight option.

What You Can Leave at Home

We’ve seen what winter cycling kit you should bring to Southern Spain, so here are the items that you can leave behind.

Winter Cycling Gear for Southern Spain - Eat Sleep Cycle

Deep Winter Jacket:
There are some amazing deep winter jackets out there that will keep your temperature just right on chilly deep-winter days. But in places where low temperatures rarely enter single figures you can leave this bulky item at home freeing up more suitcase space for energy bars.

Thermal Overshoes:
Cold, numb feet won’t aid your pedalling but neither will sweaty ones. Of course, in sub-zero temperatures and biting wind a thermal overshoe is essential, but wearing them in the mild climes of Gran Canaria will have you hot-footing it to the changing room. An oversock, however, or light overshoe might not go amiss further north of the country. The Assos Tiburu Toe Cover is a fabulous, portable option to take away the wind chill and protect from any rain.

Thermal Gloves:
Thermal gloves lend a hand (oh yes…) on ice-cold days when changing gears would otherwise be rendered impossible but they are also a nuisance when any degree of dexterity is needed. No such fumbling items will be required on a cycling holiday in the south of Spain and friendlier, less bulky equivalents will suffice in the north.

Longs:
Better for your kit to be in modular form (leg and arm warmers, jackets) than to opt for single pieces of thermal wear. Nobody wants to feel overdressed half-way through a ride and have no way of changing. That being said, a long-sleeved jersey would not go amiss on those chillier days if you’re travelling to Girona or Calpe. Check out MAAP’s long-sleeved offerings for men & women for a super-stylish option.

Wooly Hat:
Cold ears are not pleasant but neither is a hot head! That wooly hat with earflaps is a lifesaver at home but it will have you stopping for a layer-removal before you’ve even got going in the south of Spain.

Winter Cycling in Style

Hopefully the above will help you plan your kit for your next cycling adventure but if you have any questions about what gear you may need for any upcoming trips then let us know! Give us a call on +34 972 649 131 or contact us online and we’ll make sure you’re winter cycling in style!

P.S. Join our Eat Sleep Cycle club to get exclusive discounts on brands such as Assos and MAAP in The Hub!

What the Pros Think of the 2019 Tour de France Route - Eat Sleep Cycle

What the Pros Think of the 2019 Tour de France Route

By | Tour de France | No Comments

The 2019 Tour de France route was unveiled last week. It’s a brutal parcours with 30 categorised climbs and few days for the fast men. Here, in our latest blog, we gathered the reactions of those likely to do battle next July!

The 2019 Tour de France Route

With the Grand Depart in Brussels on the 6th July the 2019 route begins with a classics-style stage before moving on to a 28km TTT. The first summit finish comes on stage 6 with the partly unpaved La Planche des Belles Filles. The race then traverses the Pyrenees in the second week before (hopefully) reaching the GC crescendo in the high mountains of the Alps in the final stages.

2019 Tour de France Route – Opinion From The Pros

Now that the 2019 Tour de France route has been released we thought it would be interesting to get the opinions of pro cyclists around the world and see what they had to say about the route. As we receive more feedback from the pros we’ll update this post so make sure to check back regularly!

Tom Skujins – Team Trek Segafredo

Toms Skujins from Latvia, riding for team Trek Segafredo, KOM jersey wearer at the Tour for 5 days in 2018 and stage winner of Tour of California had the following to say about the 2019 Tour de France route.

Tom Skujins - Team Trek Segafredo - Tour de France 2019 Route Opinion

“It’s cool that the TTT is back but it´s not crazy long so the time gaps will not be huge, we could see a bit of a GC shake up but obviously until the mountains come the real GC guys will not be in the top 10. It should make for an interesting three weeks. The first week is kind of long as it´s 10 days until the first rest day which is a little bit surprising because it´s usually day 9, and then you get a rest but Saturday Sunday on day 8 and 9 are kinda interesting, especially day 8, it might be harder than people expect. The first real mountain day is day 6 and it´s a proper one, not just a flat run-in and straight uphill, it´s a proper mountain day. I think after the first 10 days we´ll get a feel for what´s going to happen, obviously afterwards there´s still a lot of hard stages, it´s not going to be over just yet, it´s always a race of attrition and as we saw this year in the Giro we lost 2-3 guys from the top 10 in the last 3 days, and they lost big!”

Amund Grondahl Johansen – Team Lotto NL Jumbo

Amund Grondal Johansen is a Norwegian rider in his 2nd year in the World Tour and is 24 years old. This is what he had to say about the 2019 route for the Tour de France.

Amund Grondahl Johansen - Team Lotto NL Jumbo - Tour de France 2019 Opinion

“I had a quick glance. It looks well balanced, with 7 flat stages to sprint for the win. Furthermore (Christophe) Prudhomme has said the route will include some shorter climbing to make more aggressive racing, which is a good move, I think. Explosive racing is better entertainment and creates more differences than the really hard & long climbing stages. However there´s still enough high summits with both the Galibier and Izeran in the Alps and Tourmalet summit finish in the Pyrenees. The first week will for sure be hectic and nervous on Belgian roads. As far as I can see it won´t be anything too crazy, even though we will pass the Muur van Geraardsbergen early on in a stage.The stages in the Vosges will be interesting, especially with a finish to La Planche des Belle Filles.”

George Bennett – Team Lotto NL Jumbo

George Bennett hails from New Zealand is a member of the Lotto NL Jumbo team. In 2018 he finished 8th on GC at the Giro d’Italia and he had this to say about the 2019 Tour de France route.

“For a guy like me 2019 is a pretty exciting route, I think they are making life as difficult for Team Sky as possible. It´s maybe one of the most physically demanding routes I´ve seen in a while with a heap of climbing at high altitude and not many time trialling kilometres. It should make for some aggressive racing.”

Dion Smith – Wanty Groupe Goubert

Dion Smith of Wanty Groupe Goubert was a Polka-dot jersey wear in the Tour de France 2018 and is excited about what the 2019 Tour de France route has in store.

Dion Smith - Team Wanty Groupe Gobert - Tour de France 2019 Route Opinion

“I think this Tour de France is very exciting. This route will be more favourable for the climbers, with more summit finishes, I don’t see any possibility for a team to dominate the Tour, because a lot of riders can show themselves in a wide range of stages. Will be a good watch!”

Patrick Bevin – Team BMC

Also in agreement that next year´s route is on the extreme side is Kiwi all-rounder Paddy Bevin who will ride for the CCC team in 2019 after two years at BMC racing Team.

Paddy Bevin - BMC Racing - Tour de France 2019 Route

“The Tour route is interesting; I think the high altitude climbs will create a race that is either wide open, GC riders crack and breaks can´t be kept in check, or a race that becomes a bit of a death match. I´ll obviously be hoping for the former so breaks can get a little more slack to perhaps try and try for the stage.”

Tour de France 2019 – The Countdown Starts Now!

Now that the 2019 Tour de France route has been released the anticipation is building. As we get more feedback from other pro cyclists we’ll update this post so make sure to check back. If you’d like to sample the classic climbs of the Tour de France for yourself check out our Tour de France Pyrennes Cycle Tour – for more info give us a call on +34 972 649 131 or contact us online!

P.S. Enjoyed this blog? Why not sign up to receive notifications every time we post and get regular updates on our latest tours!

A Different Side of Catalunya - The Pirinexus 360 - Cycle Tour

The Pirinexus 360 – A Different Side of Catalunya

By | Cycling, Cycling in Spain, Intermediate Tours, Leisure Tours, Pyrenees | No Comments

Catalunya is well known for its road cycling pedigree by now, the droves of riders that frequent the roads around Girona are testament to that. But if you’re after a different way to explore the region then look no further than the Pirinexus 360. As the name suggests the route is a circular 360 km loop. From Girona, it heads north to Olot, Camprodon & France via the Pyrenees Mountains, before heading south and downhill to the Costa Brava, and looping back around to Girona. The route can be completed in either one monster chunk for the epic riders out there, or in smaller more leisurely rides taking in the beautiful towns and villages along the way.

The Pirinexus 360 Cycle Route

The Pirinexus route is divided into 7 stretches of distances between 22 and 73km and is designed to be completed in small segments in order to take advantage of the beautiful surroundings and tranquillity of the off-road riding. The well-signposted route crosses through some of the most beautiful landscapes and charming villages Catalunya has to offer including the coastline of the Costa Brava and charming towns in the south of France.

Starting from Girona the route is best completed at a leisurely pace over 5 – 8 days to take full advantage of the varied and richly cultured towns and villages interposed throughout. So let’s break down the Pirinexus 360 route!

Girona – Olot

The first section is a 57 km stretch that sees you head north-west from Girona to the town of Olot, passing through three ‘comarcas’ and 12 towns and taking in the valleys of the Rivers Fluvià, Brugent and Ter. The first ‘comarca’ is Girones, heading out of the city towards the industrial towns of Salt and Bescanó and Bonmatí to the town of Anglès, which is home to a walled medieval town. The medieval town of Amer is the final town in the Girones comarca before the route enters the ‘Zona Volcanica de la Garrotxa’ of which Olot is the capital, an area of astonishing natural beauty and geological interest. As you pass through Sant Feliu de Pallerols you will be able to spot volcanic rocks parallel to the route. From here both the natural and man-made spectacles are in abundance, from a 9th century castle, to natural springs and gorges, sprawling valleys and beautiful churches.

Stay in:
– La Rectoria de Sant Miquel de Pineda, Sant Feliu de Pallerols
– Mas Rubio, Joanetes

Eat at:
– Les Cols, Olot
– La Rectoría offers a fabulous menu.

The Pirinexus 360 Cycle Tour - Girona - Olot

Olot – Camprodon

The shortness of this section of the Pirinexus 360 belies its difficulty, it is the hilliest section of the route with 900m of elevation but it is possibly the most beautiful.

From Olot the climbing begins straight away with the Coll de Coubet, a steady climb of around 9km, at the top the road plateaus to reveal fantastic views of the Pyrenees. From there the route takes a right along the rolling road to the Coll de Santigosa and beautiful comarca of El Ripollès. The route follows the road until the 12th Century Romanesque Church of Sant Pol and then crosses the Gothic bridge into Sant Joan Les Abadeses. From St Joan the tranquil lanes traverse the valley until Camprodon, a picture-postcard town populated mainly by the moneyed Barcelona second home owners and the 12th century Pont Nou bridge. Also home to the Birba biscuit factory, whose produce can be found in most shops in the area.

Stay in:
– Alberg Rural Ruta del Ferro, Sant Joan de les Abadesses
– Hotelet del Bac, Camprodon

Eat at:
– Mitic Restauraunt, Camprodon
– Ca ‘Enric Sant Joan

The Pirinexus 360 Biking Route - Olot - Camprodon

Camprodon – Ceret

It is on this section of the route that you will enter France for the first time. Leaving Camprodon, the juxtaposition of the contrasting cultures of medieval Catalunya and the low Pyrenees become apparent. The area is steeped in history with and a wealth of cultures and cuisines to sample. The views from the Coll d’Ares, which marks the border between Spain and France, are breath-taking and stopping to savour them before crossing into France is essential.

Ceret itself is known as the cherry capital and is also widely considered the home of the Cubism art movement so for art lovers a visit to the Museum of Modern art is a must.

Stay in:
– Hôtel Vidal, Céret

Eat at:
– L’Atelier de Fred Ceret

The Pirinexus 360 Cycling Tour - Camprodon - Ceret

Ceret – The Costa Brava

From Ceret the next point of interest is the communce of Le Boulou, where various remains of the old part of the village can be seen including an magnificent 832kg bell-tower, the ornately decorated Eglise Sainte-Marie and the statue ‘du petit tambour’ or little drummer boy which depicts the child mortally wounded in battle. Indeed this entire section of the route is peppered with plenty of historical interest and medieval, historical remains. The area is also known for having been at the forefront of the cork industry throughout the 20th century. Crossing the Coll de Panissars and back into Spain through La Jonquera, a town of dual interest as both a commercial and cultural centre the route eventually reaches Capmany – an integral location within the wine-making trade home to an array of cellars producing D.O Empordà wine.

Tasting Empordà wine is a must in this area, there are plenty of producers, many of whom offer tours of their vineyards and cellars with tastings. Following the river Llobregat from Capmany comes the town of Peralada which is steeped in history home to the ancient walled settlement of Ibers as well as a castle museum. A short detour from the route on this section of Pirinexus is Figueres a town perhaps most famous for being home to the Salvador Dalí museum dedicated to the surrealist painter who resided in the down. Those interested in nature will enjoy the Aiguamolls Natural Park which is home to an array of local bird life. Crossing the wooden bridge over the River Muga you will reach the coast and Empuriabrava, the largest residential marina in Europe. Following the coast down you will then reach the fishing town of L’Escala famous for its anchovies. Stop just north of the town for a luxurious evening by the Mediterranean.

Stay in:
– Hotel Spa Vilamint Garriguella,
– Hostal Empuries, L’Escala

Eat at:
– Hostal Empuries

Pirinexus 360 Bike Route - Ceret - Costa Brava

L’Escala – Girona

A large section of this segment runs parallel with the coast taking in the many towns of the Baix or ‘low’ Empordà region including Pals, where yet more medieval remains can be seen. Following on from Torrent is the area of the Gavarres Massif bordered by Palafrugell, a picturesque town characterised by an unfinished bell tower and the Modernist Tower of Can Mario, an old factory which has been converted into the Museum of Contemporary Sculpture. The coastal section comes to an end at the fishng town of Sant Feliu de Guixols, the route then heads north-west and is scattered with towns containing myriad medieval structures and remains before finally re-entering the Girones commarca. Through the corkwood forest comes the town of Lllagostera before crossing the fault lines which created the hot springs that are dotted in the area into Casa de la Selva. From the cork region comes the ceramic region and the town of Quart where a pottery museum can be accessed straight from the Via Verde before heading back to Girona.

Stay in:
– Hotel Alga****, Calella de Palafrugell
– Hotel Sant Pol, Sant Feliu de Guixols
– Hotel Ultonia, Girona
– Hotel Peninsula, Girona

Eat at:
– Calau, Palafrugell
– Massana, Girona

Pirinexus 360 Cycling Vacation - L'Escala - Girona

Tailored Pirinexus 360 Cycle Route

The Pirinexus route provides a fantastic vehicle by which to view an area rich in culture and history from the tranquillity of cycling-specific infrastructure free from traffic. Cycling the Pirinexus allows for a thorough exploration of the area which the road does not always provide and the accessibility of the roads and trails means that it can be enjoyed by riders of all abilities.

There are a myriad of ways to tailor your cycling tour of the Pirinexus like:

  • Luxury Leisure – Take as many days as you possibly can, stay in the best luxury hotels, enjoy gourmet food experiences. Enjoy the company of a private guide & the back up of a personal support vehicle.
  • Self-Guided Simplicity –Find your way along the trail at your perfect pace. Enjoy the freedom of a light bike and the luxury of luggage transfers – your bags will be waiting for you at your final destination.
  • Bikepacking Cycling Adventure – Go it alone with a GPS (or map and compass for a true adventure), and bike-pack your way to happiness. If you’re time-pressed, pack your tour into 3 or 4 days and up the pace on a lightweight bike, elegantly packed with all your gear.
  • Endurance Challenge – Did you know every year cyclists attempt to ride the whole 360 km loop in under 24 hours? Fancy it? Let us know and we’ll gladly support your valient attempt.

Tailored Pirinexus 360 Bike Route - Eat Sleep Cycle

Pirinexus 360 Cycle Tour

If you think that riding the Pirinexus route sounds like something you would like to take on then make sure to give us a call on +34 972 649 131 or contact us online for more info! We’re now accepting bookings for next season so make sure you secure your saddle now!

See more information about our Pirinexus Cycle Tour packages.

P.S. Enjoyed this blog? Why not sign up to receive notifications every time we post and get regular updates on our latest tours!

Women’s Pyrenees Tour With Eat Sleep Cycle

By | Cycling, Women's Cycling | No Comments

This is a guest post by Kath, one of our lovely guests on our recent women’s Pyrenees tour who has written all about her experience on her blog.

Conquering Cols in the Pyrenees with a different edge – we were all women!

I had signed up to this holiday several months ago – I knew that September would be a bit stressful (moving house!) and a cycle trip to take the edge off would be needed. I’ve done a few cycle trips here and there, either as part of a group or solo, and given the other things going on in my life, a guided trip somewhere exciting was ideal. I’ve wanted to visit the Pyrenees on a bike for a while having spent some previous holidays nearby and looking longingly up at the mountains. But I’ve never ridden a stage of the Tour de France and I really wouldn’t consider myself a mountain climber. I had noticed Eat Sleep Cycle on social media, as they regularly post about their trips and regularly introduce their staff. Their tour of the Pyrenees advertised many of the classic climbs and staying in hotels within beautiful spa towns, but a women-only Tour? What would that be like?

Womens Cycling Pyrenees Lunch

Having cycled many years in various clubs and with friends, cycling with other women has always been important. There’s nothing wrong with cycling with men, but we are from different planets, and if you’re not an advocate of that idea from popular science we are raised differently and influenced by varying praises and expectations. Cycling with only women is unusual – I’ve probably only had 2 rides consisting of only women and both were organized specifically with this in mind. The riding pace is just as strong as with men, as is the distance, but the conversation and support are totally different. Support is there in many different forms, from providing encouragement on your fellow rider’s ability to sharing stories of your experiences, advice on achieving goals and ambitions, and the trials of cycling with MAMILs. There’s definitely less chat about groupsets – but I’m pretty happy about that!

 

Whilst on the holiday we were guided by Louise – owner of ESC and cycling extraordinaire. Louise had taken several groups on a similar tour before, but this was the maiden Women’s Tour outside of Girona. Louise was excellent at providing all the information required during the trip and politely providing the necessary pacing to prevent a blow-out later on and company when the climbs got harder. A description of a forthcoming climb always came with a grin from a woman that loves the challenge. I really appreciated the advice as I regularly wanted to cycle away at the beginning of a climb out of pure excitement, not acknowledging that I had 12km to go at an average of 7%.

 

The first day was a short ride up to Superbagnères, with a strange and foreboding ski hotel up at the top. It was brilliant to be back on some switchbacks, something I love descending much more than climbing. On the descent I was fortunate to have a wildcat cross my path ahead, even in the Pyrenees these creatures are unusual to see. Day 2 covered Col du Ares and Col du Mente, both beautiful climbs into the mountains. Day 3 was short and sharp, covering col du Peyresourde and Val Louron Azet just 44km; there was an optional extra but the hotel pool was calling… This slightly easier day was in preparation for day 4 – Col du Aspen and the iconic Col du Tourmalet.

Most people who we passed were clearly delighted that a group of only women were cycling the Pyrenees. From the locals we had many waves and grins of joy, and perhaps a bit of bewilderment. Most other cyclists were very pleased to see us, and many would stop to engage with us. Perhaps the questions were different; ‘is that an electric bike?’ ‘Did you cycle up here?’ Sigh. But not always; ‘is that a 35-25 groupset?’ ‘Just stunning isn’t it?’ ‘Where are you from?’ The Col du Tourmalet was a pleasure to ride up, one foot in front of the other and just keeping soaking up the exquisite views. By this point my new friends and I had bonded; ‘has is just kicked up again?’ ‘No whingeing on the yacht, Ladies!’. During our ride there was several groups of other cyclists, including a triathlon competition, I’m just in awe of those cyclists whizzing down the Tourmalet to then start running.

While we were climbing our driver Brooke was putting together a feast for us, often at the top of a Col (we were very lucky with the weather). This was where a guided tour really came into its own; having a spread of salads, cured meats, carbs and juice all ready for you at the top of a mountain you’ve just climbed. We were definitely the envy of everyone else at this point and had several requests to join the table. Brooke also acted as our social media correspondent and gave us all several lessons in the wonderful world of Instagram.

 

The choice of hotels was perfect, varying from a traditional French lodge serving classic cuisine through to a ski hotel with a pool to relax by (and plunge into) at the end of the day. Our belongings were transported in the van, again the ease of a guided holiday really made the Tour ideal.

So what was a women-only Tour like? I came back from holiday really feeling like I had a holiday. The support for each other was brilliant, and this I have found is sometimes harder to identify within mixed groups. And we had a lot of fun; it was an absolute pleasure to cycle with other like-minded women over the five days of riding. Cycling in the Pyrenees was a wonderful experience and I’m already planning for my next trip there. I’ve returned from holiday with more confidence in myself and ability to climb up anything. After-all, I cycled the Queens Stage of my Tour of the Pyrenees.

Factor Bikes Rental from Eat Sleep Cycle

Focus On Factor Bikes

By | Cycling, Lifestyle, News, World Tour | No Comments

At Eat Sleep Cycle we are, first and foremost, cyclists and as such we are always searching for the best bike. Therefore when the chance to work with Factor Bikes, a brand founded on years of experience within both the carbon manufacturing industry and the peloton, we jumped at the chance. We like to work with like-minded brands, those who engage with their audience and are closely involved with the delivery or production of their product. It was in this vein that we chose Ridley for our rental fleet in 2018 and with the same ideal in mind that we are collaborating with Factor.

Factor Bikes – A Winning Combination

Add to this the input of none other than David Millar and you truly have a winning combination. Indeed, winning is exactly what the professional athletes who have had the privilege to ride bikes made by Factor have gone on to do. In their own words the brand “was conceived from a commitment to innovation, speed and performance through advanced engineering”, commitments for a bike manufacturer. So who are Factor?

From Formula 1 to Factor

Factor has an interesting history: despite being a young brand it has years of experience behind it; founded in 2007 by BF1 systems, the Formula 1 engineering company based in Norfolk, UK, the early models were inspired by the supercars and designed to showcase the engineering prowess of the company. The Factor 001 was launched in 2009 and was a concept bike with a built-in computer, disc brakes and an eye-watering £20,000 price tag.

Nowadays the brand is producing somewhat more attainable but still high-performance models designed for racing. Baden Cooke, a former pro of 14 years and 2003 Tour de France green jersey winner, along with Rob Gitelis, co-founder of Carbon Composite bikes bought the brand during this shift from prototypes to the peloton.

Factor Bikes Romain Bardet - Factor Bike Hire and Purchase

Factor Accolades

Thus, with the brand still in its infancy it took up sponsorship of a World Tour team in the form of the French set-up AG2R La Mondiale in 2017. With this came the need to produce a lightweight race bike that complies with UCI regulations and the 6.58kg Factor O2 was born. Since switching to Factor as a bike sponsor AG2R La Mondiale have enjoyed myriad successes in some of the most prestigious races on the cycling calendar including 3rd on GC and a stage win at the 2017 Tour. The most recent success, however, was Romain Bardet’s silver medal at the world championships in Innsbruck. Few bike brands this young can boast the same accolades.

But Bardet and co. are not the only professional riders involved with Factor. David Millar, former pro cyclist and multiple Tour de France stage winner, has been involved with the brand from early on, developing the design with Cooke and Gitelis having lamented the lack of input he was afforded with regards to the bikes he rode during his career. Millar has since collaborated with Factor via his own brand, CHPT3, on a limited edition One which he described as: ‘the coolest bike I have ever had’.

Factor Bike Hire and Purchase - Eat Sleep Cycle

Factor Bike Hire & Purchase!

If you’re inspired to test out the quality of Factor bikes then you’re in luck, as the O2 disc with Shimano Ultegra di2 will be available both for bike hire and purchase from our Girona Hub. To find out more about what the Factor bikes that are available give us a call now on +34 972 649 131 or contact us online!

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Classic Climbs of the Alps - Eat Sleep Cycle

Classic Climbs of the Alps

By | Advanced Tours, Alps, Cycling, Epic Tours | No Comments

The Alps have long been a classic destination for those seeking a cycling vacation in Europe. It is, after all the place where the fiercest battles of the Tour are won and lost, where almost every climb is a ‘classic’, the roads are smooth and the terrain is challenging and varied. To that end we have decided we simply must add it to our ever-expanding list of European locations, should you need to be convinced any further as to why the Alps are a must-ride for every cyclist take a look at our run-down of the classic climbs of the Alps!

Alpe d’Huez

By far the most famous Alpine climb Alpe d’Huez is known for it’s 21 hairpins.
It may not be the toughest, steepest, longest or most beautiful of climbs but it provides what must be one of the most iconic stretches of climbing in cycling history. The climb has been used 30 times in the Tour de France so far, usually to dramatic effect. One of the most memorable ascents of Alpe d’Huez was that of 1997 when El Pirata, Marco Pantani, flew past Jan Ullrich on his way to the fastest ever ascent (37 mins 35 seconds). Mere mortals fulled on jam sandwiches and espresso can aim for the hour as being an exceptionally good time.

Alpe d’Huez Stats:

  • 14.45km
  • 8.1% average gradient
  • 11.5% max gradient
  • 1,071m elevation gain
  • 1,850m elevation at the summit

Classic Climbs of the Alps - Alpe d’Huez - Cycling-Tour

Col du Galibier

From St Michel-de-Maurienne
The Galibier is one of the toughest climbs in cycling. Most famously tackled from the northern side it is an epic 34 km long. To reach the pass you must first climb the Col du Télégraphe (12km at 7%). After a 5km descent to the ski town of Valloire the road gets steeper & steeper en route to a mighty summit at 2,642 m.
It is the altitude towards the top combined with the length of the climb which make the Galibier so tough. It is the fourth highest paved pass in France at a (literally) breath-taking 2,642m.

Col du Galibier Stats:

  • 34km
  • 5.5% average gradient
  • 12% max gradient
  • 1,924m elevation gain
  • 2,642m elevation at the summit

Classic Climbs of the Alps - Col du Galibier Alps - Cycling Tour

Col de la Colombière

North from Scionzier
Featured in the 2018 Tour de France and La Course
In the Arve valley near to the town of Cluses, Scionzer is where the Colombière starts proper. The climb can be split into two parts as there is an ‘easier’ point around half way with a plateau. The first section is under the cover of the forest and rises gradually from 3% up to 8% in the last few kilometres before it levels off. After, the road becomes a lot steeper with the gradient rising and rising up to the 10-11% slopes at the top. The rocky landscape gives way to make the summit visible from around 3km to go which can be both a blessing and a curse depending on how long the final few kms feel!

Col de la Colombière Stats:

  • 16.3km
  • 6.8% average gradient
  • 10.2% max gradient
  • 1,108m elevation gain
  • 1,613m elevation at the summit

Classic Climbs of the Alps - Col de la Colombière - Alps Cycling Tour

Col de la Madeleine

South from la Chambre
The Col de la Madeleine is one of the most beautiful climbs in the Alps but it’s also one of the toughest. A brutal 19.2km at an average of 8% with 40 hairpins offers no respite; the saving grace is that the gradient remains pretty constant throughout meaning you can get into a (painful) rhythm.
The climb regularly features in the Tour de France but was last used five years ago in 2013 on Stage 19 between Bourg d’Oisans and Le Grand-Bornand meaning it’s long overdue a visit!

Col de la Madeleine Stats:

  • 19.2km
  • 8% average gradient
  • 12% max gradient
  • 1,529m elevation gain
  • 1,999m elevation at the summit

Classic Climbs of the Alps - Col de la Madeleine - Biking Tour

Col d’Izoard

South from Guillestre
Col d’Izoard is steeped in cycling history, the Tour de France has featured the climb on 35 occasions but surprisingly only one of those was a summit finish. That finish was in 2017 and was won by French rider and polka-dot jersey winner Warren Barguil. On that same day even more history was made as the women’s pro peloton also raced to the summit with Dutch rider Annemiek Van Vleuten taking the win and posting a faster time than all but two male riders that day…
The climb itself has a deceptively low average gradient of 4.3% which is due to the gradual lower slopes, but the climb proper begins after around 15 kilometres whereafter the gradient pushes up to between 7 and 11%. The scenery alone is worth summiting the Izoard for, from the dramatic Casse Déserte to the panoramic Alpine views that can be seen from the top.

Col d’Izoard Climb Stats:

  • 34.4km
  • 4.3% average gradient
  • 11.5% max gradient
  • 1,538m elevation gain
  • 2,361m elevation at the summit

Classic Climbs of the Alps - Col d’Izoard - Biking Tour

Alps Cycling Tour Guides

To set up our Alps tours we enlisted the knowledge of two people who know the Alps like we know Girona – inside out – meet our Alps Tour Leaders.

Ed Greene:
Two years living in the Alps honing his climbing skills while racing means Ed knows the area like the back of his hand. With racing now behind him he frequents France more for the boulangeries than the climbs and cafè and Croissant are now the most frequently used words in his extensive French vocabulary.

Christian Vaughan:
Christian feels very at home in the Alps and considers it his second home. He loves the variation of the small and massive climbs that reward with those fantastic ‘top of the world’ views. Top that off with the fabulous descents and there is no better way to spend a day on the bike. Experience is key in the mountains to ensure that you get the best from the route and weather.  High points—Col d’Izoard, Col de Sarenne, Col du Galibier. Christian also has extensive experience as an athlete, mechanic and coach.

Cycling Vacation of the Classic Climbs of the Alps

Cycling Tour of the Classic Climbs of the Alps

If the these classic climbs of the Alps have peaked your interest then make sure to get in touch with us today! Take on all of these epic climbs and more guided by our expert leaders on our Classic Climbs of the Alps tour. Give us a call on +34 972 649 131 or contact us online for more info.

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Gran Canaria Cycle Routes - A Cyclist's Paradise - Eat Sleep Cycle

Gran Canaria Cycle Routes – A Cyclist’s Paradise

By | Advanced Tours, Cycling, Cycling in Spain, Gran Canaria, Intermediate Tours | No Comments

Gran Canaria is truly a cyclist’s paradise. The largest of the Canary Islands looks like it was designed by road cyclists for road cyclists with its smooth tarmac, quiet roads, minimal rainfall and temperatures in the mid twenties year-round. The island is only 100km West of Morrocco and on the same latitude as the Sahara, but while there are sandy beaches in the South it’s no desert, Gran Canaria’s landscape is extremely diverse, from volcanic and barren to green vegetation depending on where you are on the island. It may not be home to the biggest, hardest or most iconic climbs but Gran Canaria has a lot to offer and certainly isn’t lacking when it comes to riding uphill (a compact is essential).

So why should your next European cycling holiday be in Gran Canaria? Take a look at our highlights and Gran Canaria cycle routes and see for yourself!

The Valley of the Tears

The most revered climb on the island is colloquially known as The Valley of the Tears, and you would be forgiven for turning on the waterworks after one glance at the stats: The climb is 11.8km long with an average gradient of 8% (bear in mind that this includes sections of descent), the maximum gradient is 25% and it’s likely to take the average punter at least one hour to complete. VOTT starts tough, with 25% gradients; so don’t attack the bottom too hard – you will need that power later on!

Gran Canaria Cycle Routes - The Valley of Tears

Puerto de Mogán

After you’ve wiped away the tears take a visit to the Porto de Mogan, known as the “little Venice of Gran Canaria”. The fishing Port is home to many hotels and restaurants and of course, the beach! Take some well-deserved post-ride recovery time on the beach followed by dinner with a sea view.

Pico de Las Nieves

The highest point on Gran Canaria and most commonly attacked from the town of Maspalomas, the climb up to Pico de las Nieves is a long one: 40km to be precise with an average gradient of 4.7%. The trick to getting through it is to break it up; the road lends itself to this as there are short descents interspersed throughout. With 11km to go after joining the GC600 comes the hardest part of the climb, the gradients steepen drastically. At this point you will have the top and the Roque Nublo (rock in the clouds),an ancient sacred monument, in sight.

A Perfect Winter Cycling Destination

Gran Canaria offers so many hidden gems and is simply somewhere that you must experience for yourself to believe. Deep winter is the perfect time to visit, when Northern Europe freezes dig out the summer bib shorts and basque in the wall-to-wall sun and perfect temperatures! Check out some top European winter cycling destinations here!

Gran Canaria Cycle Routes - Winter Cycling Destination - Eat Sleep Cycle

Gran Canaraia Cycling Vacation

If Gran Canaria sounds like your next European cycling vacation then take a look at our Gran Canaria ride camp tour – brand new for 2019! Give us a call on +34 972 649 131 or contact us online to find out more about a cycling tour to Gran Canaria!

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Top European Winter Cycling Destinations To Avoid The Cold - Eat Sleep Cycle

Top European Winter Cycling Destinations To Avoid The Cold!

By | Advanced Tours, Cycling, Cycling in Spain, Epic Tours, Girona, Gran Canaria, Intermediate Tours, Leisure Tours, South Spain | No Comments

Winter is coming… but imagine you could avoid donning those woolly overshoes and rain jacket and chase the summer around the world, where would you go? Here are some of the top European winter cycling destinations for some winter sun in 2018/19!

Autumn/Early Spring Cycling Destinations

The first cycling destinations that we’re going to look at are the ones which are most suitable for Autumn or Early Spring. They are still perfectly acceptable destinations for deep winter, but you might need a few extra layers!

Best European Winter Cycling Destinations

Girona – The Pros’ Home

Maybe we’re biased but we think that Girona provides an amazing base for year-round riding. Autumn and early spring are key times of year as Northern Europe is under a chill but Girona’s climate remains temperate with very little rain. September – November is the perfect time to extend late summer by taking a cycling trip to the Catalan city and explore the place that so many pros call home. Girona also enjoys warmer weather from as early as February and March making it a perfect European winter cycling destination for when winter feels never-ending at home.

The golden combination of city, coast and mountains in Girona means that you can explore a plethora of terrain in one single ride. In addition, unlike many tourist locations it doesn’t completely shut up shop during winter as there are many locals and students living there. Take the perfect post-ride stroll through the old town to see the stunning Cathedral or visit one of the many excellent restaurants and cafes on offer. Access to Girona is also incredibly easy with the nearest airport a mere 12km away and the next closest, in Barcelona, is an hour’s train ride away.

Where to stay: in the old town, Hotel Ultonia, Hotel Historic.

Mallorca – The Original Cycling Mecca

The original cycling mecca, Mallorca has long seen sun-seeking cyclists making a pilgrimage to the island. Like Girona the best time to make a winter-sun getaway is September-November and February-March. In line with it’s Catalan counterpart Mallorca boasts a combination between coast and mountains meaning that the landscape is varied. Few riders will find the Mallorcan roads too challenging, there is a combination of flat and mountainous terrain alike meaning that riders of all abilities can enjoy what the largest of the Balearic islands has to offer.

One of the most popular rides on the island is to the Cap de Fortmentor lighthouse – the most northern point of the island, for nothing else if not a photo opportunity.  An ascent of the sinewy climb of Sa Colabra, by far the most famous climb on the island and one of the most well-known in the world is also essential. Off the bike there is plenty to see and do including visiting the capital, Palma.

Where to stay: Sóller, Pollença

Southern Portugal – The Same But Different

It’s no surprise that Portugal is growing in popularity as a location for cyclists considering the warm climate, rich history and excellent riding, not dissimilar to the already well-established Spanish locations in terms of climate, culture and cuisine. Those who are looking for something the same but different will love what Portugal has to offer.

In the past year the country has been awarded numerous tourism accolades and has firmly established itself as a European holiday destination. For cycling over the winter months the southern part of the island is the place to travel to for the warmer weather. Head to the Algarve coast in the south-west for a combination of flat coastal riding and in-land mountains. Away from the riding Portugal has many ancient medieval villages to explore as well as a rich variety of wine and seafood to taste.

Where to stay: Alentejo, Algarve

All Winter Cycling Destinations

The following destinations are ready to be explored all throughout the winter months without a leg-warmer in sight! The go-to locations for a mid-winter getaway or epic training camp these are the fail-safe, tried and tested all-winter cycling destinations.

Gran Canaria – Cycling Heaven

More than just a beach holiday destination, a visit to Gran Canaria by bike will leave you wondering if the island was actually designed by cyclists. Year-round temperatures of between 22 and 25 degrees, a mere 148mm of rainfall on average over 12 months, plenty of climbing and some of the smoothest tarmac you’ll ever ride on make it a cycling haven.

Likely due to this winning combination Gran Canaria cycle routes are a winter camp favourite of many a pro team in recent years. The landscape of Gran Canaria is uniquely stunning and diverse ranging from sparse and volcanic to lively and green. The climbs here can be steeper than the neighbouring Canary Islands meaning the riding is somewhat more challenging and varied – perfect training terrain. Those who aren’t all about pushing their limits on a cycling getaway can take advantage of recovery time on the many beautiful beaches the island has to offer.

Where to stay: Maspalomas, Cruz de Tejeda, central locations.

Southern Spain/Calpe – Sun & Smooth Tarmac

The Southern regions of Spain are a long-held favourite location of leisure cyclists and World-Tour teams alike. It’s no surprise that so many fly south for winter; Andalucía enjoys more than 320 days of sunshine a year and only 40 days of rain on average. Calpe and the surrounding area boasts a similarly temperate climate and is swarming with cyclists engaging in some winter training during the colder months.

The cycling in Southern Spain is like most good training locations – the area is very hilly, several climbs over 2,000m, good road surfaces and sparse traffic. The Calpe/Alicante area is known in summer as a haven for those seeking sun-soaked partying but in winter it attracts a very different kind of clientele who mix with the stalwart mahogany ex-pats. Cyclists flock to the region in search of sun and smooth tarmac, which they receive in abundance. As with the rest of Spain the draw is not only the fantastic riding but also the laid-back lifestyle and delicious food and drink on offer, re-fuelling with some delicious tapas and a cerveza is a must. Check here to see what cycling kit you’ll need for winter cycling in Southern Spain!

Where to stay: Mojacar, Calpe, Almería

European Winter Cycling Locations from Eat Sleep Cycle

Inspiring Winter Cycling Spots

Inspired? Each of the 5 winter cycling spots above give you the ability to indulge in a cycling tour or training session when it should be too cold to be enjoyable! Take a look at our winter camps to see how you can enjoy some cycling in the sun this winter. For more information or to find out about how we can tailor a winter trip to your needs email us on info@eatsleepcycle.com or contact us online!

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