Lourdes to Soulor Loop
Approximately 53 miles with 4,100 feet of climbing
Your Trek Travel guides will meet you at the Hotel Gallia & Londres (26 Avenue Bernadette Soubirous- BP83 Lourdes) at 10:00 AM on the first day of the trip. 100 years ago, unsupported cyclists braved gravel roads on steel bikes, wary of attack by eagles and bears, pitting themselves against nature, each other and their own endurance. Often featured in the Tour de France this ride will enchant you into the legendary climbs of the Pyrenees. This morning you’ll appreciate the true grit and sheer determination of the pros as you climb to Col du Soulor, beginning with a gentle ascent which soon ratchets up to a severe 9% grade. Take a break for lunch at the summit at a local bistro, or continue on to summit Col d’Aubisque, from where you can enjoy a well-earned sweeping descent and scenic ride all the way back to Lourdes. This evening we’ll meet to discuss the days ahead over cocktails and dinner at a charming restaurant in town.
Lourdes to Col du Tourmalet & Col d’Aspin to Saint Lary
Approximately 65 miles with 9,500 feet of climbing
Today you confront one of the Pyrenees’ legendary mountain passes: the mighty Col du Tourmalet. Cruise 12.5 miles along the valley floor following the river to Pierrefitte-Nestalas before climbing gently through the Gorges de Luz. With dramatic jagged cliffs above and a lively bubbling stream below, this section of the ride is incredibly picturesque. We’ll ascend Tourmalet from the Barèges side – the same side the pros approached in 2012 – and where Andy Schleck and Alberto Contador confronted each other in the fog in 2010’s deciding mountaintop finish. From here you’ll descend to ride over the Col d’Aspin to the town of Saint Lary-Soulan. Or, if you still have power in your legs, ride one more climb up the Pla d’Adet, which has areas with grades reaching up to 12%.
Bedoin to Blauvac Loop
Approximately 18 miles with 1,200 feet of climbing
This morning you’ll rise early, bidding ‘adieu’ to the mountains of the Pyrenees and a day’s transfer to Provence and the home of Le Mont Ventoux. Take some time to rest, relax and watch the scenery change from the Pyrenean mountain landscapes to the vibrant lavender fields of Provence. This afternoon, with Ventoux as your backdrop, you’ll ride through the vineyard covered hillsides from one sleepy village to another. If you’d rather take a day off the bike to linger in one of Provence’s quaint villages or take a dip in the pool, your guides are always there to accommodate. Tonight your home will be the beautiful Hotel des Pins, where you and your traveling companions will be treated to a your first Provençal meal at the hotel’s excellent restaurant.
Bedoin to Maulecene via Mount Ventoux with shuttle return
Approximately 36 miles with 5,900 feet of climbing
Prepare yourself for epic scenery and legendary riding today! The challenge is the mighty Mont Ventoux, and 13.42 miles of climbing with no flat sections and an average grade of 10% through the middle 6.2 miles before you hit the moonscape. What makes this climb challenging is not just the ride itself, but also the weather. Intense winds or scorching heat can make this climb seem a hundred times more difficult than those found in the Alps. Your day will start early to give you the best opportunity to have a stellar climb. After taking a picture at the top to memorialize achieving this feat, you’ll descend to Malaucène to enjoy a bistro lunch where you can relax and refuel before this afternoon’s spin back to the hotel. This evening you and your travel companions can explore the small village of Bedoin to dine in the bistro of your choice.
St. Michel to La Grave with Col du Télégraphe and Col du Galibier
Approximately 35 miles with 7,500 feet of climbing
This morning you’ll rise early and say “à plus” to the lavender fields of Provence to focus on your next destination – the majestic Alps. After a scenic 3.5 hour transfer, you’ll gear up to tackle the next classic climbs, cols de Télégraphe and Galibier. 2011’s Tour de France celebrated the hundredth anniversary of the first crossing of Galibier by the peloton, the Tour’s most visited mountain pass. Take on the route the Pros did in previous years and understand just what makes the double ascent so tough! Challenging and beautiful, this is one of the great rides of the French Alps. After cresting the top of Galibier, you have a beautiful and fast descent to the town of La Grave, and our hotel for the night, Hotel-Edelweiss. This evening you’ll be treated to a cycling-friendly dinner so you can retreat to your bed in time to rest up for tomorrow’s special day.
La Grave to Bardonecchia, Italy with Col du Lautaret and Col de l’Echelle
Approximately 56 miles with 5,600 feet of climbing
This morning you begin by cycling one of the Tour’s most famous climbs and descents, the Col du Lautaret and descent to Briançon. Here is where Alberto Contador and Alexander Vinokourov won some of their most heralded Tour stages. Once in Briançon, make your way to the Vallée Névache, with its quiet roads and stunning scenery, and after a short climb over Col de l’Echelle you descend into Bardonecchia, Italy for lunch. Enjoy the superb Italian food and coffee, and a fleeting taste of what makes Italy so magical. Later you have the option to tackle both climbs again, or alternatively opt out for a shuttle back to La Grave. Tonight you are free to explore La Grave to find a great restaurant to refuel before more stunning climbs tomorrow!
St. Michel to ADH via Villard Reculas w/ Col du Glandon & Croix de Fer
Approximately 68 miles with 9,700 feet of climbing
Welcome to another day of thigh burning climbs and rapid descents with the epic Col du Glandon – first featured in the 1947 Tour and showcased again in Stage 19 of 2013. We will shuttle to the base, climbing it from the northern side and taking in 24 kilometers of spectacular beauty to the top. If you have extra legs, continue up the 1.5 miles to the summit of nearby Col de la Croix de Fer. After a satisfying mountain lunch enjoy a lightning fast descent to Lac du Verney, which often hosts the swim of the Alpe d’Huez triathlon. From here you ascend 3700 feet to the top of Alpe d’Huez. Savor the fresh alpine air and dramatic mountain views from your home for the next few nights. As always, your Trek Travel guides will have water and snacks available for you to rest and refuel. Tonight explore the village of Alpe D’Huez for dinner and celebrate the week’s exploits so far.
Alpe d’Huez Loop with Col de Sarenne
Approximately 35 miles with 5,800 feet of climbing
It’s time. The moment you have been waiting for, the classic ascent of Alpe d’Huez, the most revered and famous mountaintop finish in France. With an average grade of 8% and 21 hairpin bends, this lion of a climb will grab and hold all your attention. We’ll descend onto tthe route made famous in the 2013 Tour over the Col du Sarenne to take in the beauty of the mountains, and imagine the pros descending this small and narrow road, before we reach the final climb of the trip, Alpe d’Huez, the ultimate grand finale ride.This climb was first included in the Tour in 1952 and it’s often one of the most exciting points in the race as the pros dance on their pedals to the summit, over an average grade of nearly 8%. Take a photo taken on the summit podium and relax over lunch at the top of this mighty mountain and soak up the reward of the grueling ascent and astounding views. Tonight, gather with your traveling companions and guides to raise a glass to the Tour, the legendary riding that makes it famous, heroes past and present and the incredible cycling of these truly epic climbs!