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Point to Point Trans Cycling Challenges - Journeys of a Lifetime

Point to Point Trans Cycling Challenges: Journeys of a Lifetime

By Advanced Tours, Alps, Dolomites, Pyrenees No Comments

Trans Cycling Challenges, Point to Point Challenges, Journeys of a lifetime – there are many different names for them but there is one thing that is consistent: a Trans Cycling Challenge is an unforgettable, epic adventure! In this post we will explore which we think are the best.

What is a Trans Cycling Challenge?

A challenging point to point ride by bicycle from one place to another. Riding from point to point has a long history in cycling, indeed, it is the basis of most stage races. Usually this is designed to showcase two different towns with the start and finish locations having requested and paid to be in the spotlight.

What Is A Trans Cycling Challenge - Eat Sleep Cycle

Can a Cycling Challenge make a Good Holiday?

But how do Trans Cycling Challenges translate to cycling vacations? There is a real sense of adventure in riding from A to B, using your bike to propel you from one place to another with an end goal in sight that is very different to simply riding loops out of one location. With the greater sense of adventure comes greater challenge and risk, and with that a huge sense of satisfaction from completing the journey.

Riding a point-to-point route means you get to see more, each day brings a new challenge, a new location, new scenery to enjoy from the saddle and new cuisine to enjoy post-ride, it is the ultimate way to get the most out of a cycling vacation.

Our Top Three Trans Cycling Challenges

So, now that you know what a trans cycling challenge is and that they can make for great holidays let’s now look at our top 3 trans cycling challenges – the Trans Pyrenees, the Trans Dolomites and the new kid in town, the Trans Andalucia!

Trans Pyrenees Point to Point Trans Cycling Challenges - Eat Sleep Cycle

Trans Pyrenees

This is the original Trans Challenge. The first ever Eat Sleep Cycle Tour was a version of our current Trans Pyrenees tour (from Girona to Biarritz) and it remains one of our absolute favourite routes to ride.

Starting from our base in Girona the journey takes you north to the Catalan Pyrenees and the beautiful La Pobla de Lillet before crossing the border into France the following day. From there, the route covers a total of thirteen cols including some of the most prominent climbs of the Tour de France; the Col du Tourmalet, Col d’Aubisque, Col d’Aspin and more before reaching the final destination – the beautiful coastal city of San Sebastian.

The characteristics of the Pyrenees mean that the landscape is rugged and varied, making for spectacular views and stunning climbs and descents which then give way to the rolling roads of the Basque Country.

Trans Pyrenees Tour Highlights

  • La Pobla de Lillet –  a beautiful hidden gem in the Catalan pre-Pyrenees, this picturesque ‘pueblo’ is home to the Artigas Gardens designed by Antoni Gaudi and our accommodation of choice is El Castell de la Pobla de Lillet, a castle from the year 1297!
  • Col du Tourmalet – the iconic Col of the Tour de France is a must-ride for every cyclist looking to challenge themselves. This year featuring as a stage finish promising plenty of excitement!
  • The ‘Cirque du Litor’ – this is incredible section of road links the Col du Soulour to the Col d’Aubisque. Roughly translated as the avalanche circle, this is one of the last roads to open in Spring.

Looking for more of a Cycling Challenge?
The Raid Pyrenees is a 100 hour epic ride from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean via set check-points.

Trans Dolomites - Point to Point Trans Cycling Challenges - Eat Sleep Cycle

Trans Dolomites

The Trans Dolomites Challenge traverses the Carnic Alps to the Italian Dolomites and across to the Italian Alps. Bookmarked by the mighty Monte Zoncolan and the legendary Passo Mortirolo and Passo Gavia with a whole host of renowned climbs of the Giro d’Italia and beautiful scenery in between it promises to test and excite in equal measure.

The beauty of this route lies in the drastically varying landscape. From the stunningly picturesque limestone rock faces of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Dolomites to the characterful Italian Alps that contrast with their polished French counterpart.

Trans Dolomites Tour Highlights

  • Monte Zoncolan – the iconic climb of the Giro d’Italia, this beast is considered by many  to be the toughest climb in cycling!
  • Passo Stelvio – built in the years 1820 – 1825 this 48 km stretch of road connects the Valtellina in the south-west with Val Venosta in the north-east. Over 70 hairpins take the road to a leg-cramping 2,757 m altitude.
  • Passo Gavia – stunning, every changing, scenery and a pitch black tunnel characterise this 17.3 km killer climb. Perhaps best known for the heroic efforts of American Andy Hampsten who battled with apocalyptic, snowy conditions to seal the Giro d’Italia pink jersey in 1988.
  • Passo Mortirolo – synonymous with the late, great El Pirata – Marco Pantani – of whom you will find a tribute on the climb itself as you battle with the 10-20% gradients!

Meet our local Guide in the Italian Mountains

If you book a Trans Dolomites Tour then there is a good chance you’ll meet Mario, our local guide to the Italian mountains!

Italian Cycling Tour Guide - Mario - Eat Sleep Cycle

Name
Mario

Where are you from?
Italy – a little town called Conegliano, 40 km from Venice

Where do you live?
In my hometown

What drew you to cycling and why?
I’ve always be passionate about the bicycle. I started working for the French brand Mavic & I had to start practicing riding to be able to give feedback on the apparel and products I was selling. Since then it became my biggest passion.

What’s your favourite thing about guiding?
That I made a job out of my passion and the fact that I can share my time with people who share my same passion – it comes pretty easy to me.

Describe your favourite climb?
Lots of climbs & cold weather! There’s a pass called Passo San Boldo 10 km from where I live – its quite atypical, breathtaking with tunnels. I love mountains!

Tell me about the best meal you’ve had in Italy
My Grandma’s – torn between risotto & sausage & potato – she was also from the mountains so its a typical dish.

What do you do when you’re not cycling?
In the winter when its too cold to cycle – I’ve been a cross-country skier since I was a kid so when I have a chance I head to the mountains.

Trans Andalucia - Point to Point Trans Cycling Challenges - Eat Sleep Cycle

Trans Andalucia

The Trans Challenge new kid in town but already a firm favourite amongst both guests and staff, the Trans Andalucia challenge is a cycling dream. We recently waxed lyrical on this blog on the beauty of cycling in Andalucia, the smooth roads, the gentle climbs, the weather and the culture together make it a paradise for a cycling holiday.

Starting from Almeria and heading west to Seville via the Sierra Nevada mountains, Granada, the ancient Moorish city of Antequera, Ronda & Arcos de la Frontera it is a tour filled with as much cultural interests as riding, not to mention the food!

Trans Andalucia Tour Highlights

  • Caminito del Rey – The 2015 Vuelta was the first road race to visit the ‘Pathway of the King’. Short and sweet is the best way to describe this 4 km climb. With ramps of up to 15% legs are likely to sting as the road winds its way up to a restaurant and a dead end.
  • Ronda – The mountaintop city famous for its Moorish history and the iconic Puente Nuevo bridge over a deep gorge which separates the new and the old town.
  • Granada – There is yet more history to discover in Granada famous for the stunning Alhambra, which started life as a fortress, before being transformed into a palace in the mid 13th century.

Trans Cycling Challenges – Start Your Journey Now

Each of the Trans Cycling Challenges about will give a cycling experience like no other and all of our tours can be tailored to your needs. If you’d like to start the journey of a lifetime give us a call now on +34 972 649 131 or contact us online for more info!

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Classic Climbs of the Alps - Eat Sleep Cycle

Classic Climbs of the Alps

By Alps 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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