Ariegeoise Cyclosportive and Pyrenees Playground Trip

June 21st –July 1st 2010

Col d’Aspin
Col d’Agnes
Plateau de Beille
The Portillon

If you have always wondered what it is like to ride the climbs you have seen in the Tour, this is your chance.

We have created a travel experience centering on the classic climbs of the Pyrenees and featuring the Ariegeoise Cyclosportive event on Saturday the 26th of June. This year the Ariegeoise event (distance options: 165km /105km/ with several major climbs) will finish with the climb to Plateau de Beille. The first six days will focus on preparing for and riding this Cyclosportive event, and the final four days will be spent enjoying more of the classic Pyrenees climbs of the Tour including the Tourmalet, Aspin, and Peyresourde from our second base in Arreau. Our staff, who have taken several trips to these areas,  will lead you on every ride, and unlike many cycling trips with many hours spent driving, you will roll out nearly every day right from your lodging. Each day will have a primary route and options for longer and shorter routes. There are only 12 spots available for this trip.

The first part of the trip will be run like a cycle camp focusing on riding and event preparation with time and transportation to visit local points of interest. Riders will arrive in the Ariege Region on Monday the 21st, 6 days before the event. For these first six days we will be in the village of Vicdessos, lodging in a cluster of several comfortable cabins used primarily by skiers in  the winter.  We will spend the next days getting you over jet lag, acquainting you with the event route and guiding you up its main climbs. During this time you will climb several of the beautiful peaks in the area, including Port d’Lers, Col d’Agnes and the Plateau de Beille. The cycle camp week culminates with Saturday’s Ariegeoise Cyclosportive, and our last night in the Vicdessos cabins.

On Sunday the 27th we move to the beautiful valley town of Arreau where we will lodge in the comfortable 300 year old  Angleterre hotel. After this day of travel and recovery from Saturday’s effort  and you will be ready to roll out right from the hotel and head for some of the classic climbs of cycling history, to the north lies the Aspin and Tourmalet, and to the south the Peyresourde.

The Ariegeoise Cyclosportive  event
The Ariegeoise is a cyclo sport event like a Gran Fondo in Italy or the Dairyland Dare and Horrible Hilly Hundreds here in Wisconsin. That said, it is a very different type of event due to the  longer climbs and the  cycle culture connection of these roads to the epic rides of the Tour de France. This event is on the U.C.I. calendar as are only a handful of Goldenbike events worldwide. This is due to the challenging nature of the course and the quality of the event itself which boasts over 3000 participants.
We will help you get registered for  the event on their website.
You will need to send a medical certificate from your physician stating you are in good health and able to participate in the Ariegeoise event.

Ariegeoise Cyclosportive and Pyrenees Playground Trip detailed itinerary with approximate route mileage

Monday, 21st

Arrive Toulouse Airport by 2pm where we will pick you up and drive you and your bike to the village of Vicdessos in the heart of the Pyrenees (1.5 hr drive). Staff will make dinner, assemble your bike and settle you in your cabin. A short walk or ride around the village is suggested to get you into the time zone rhythm. We will have a short meeting to discuss Tuesday’s ride and activities.

Tuesday, 22nd

Breakfast  and  discussion of routes and options. We’ll start riding a bit later on this day (10:00) as some of you will want to sleep in a bit. The goal of this ride (low miles) will be to do some moderate climbs (Cat 3 & 4) at easy to moderate pace so that you will be prepared for the longer and harder ride on Wednesday. You will enjoy a mountaintop lunch at an outdoor cafe with lattes and beautiful views on top of the Cat 3 Port de Lers.  Post ride snacks and dinner at your cabin prepared by staff. Discussion of today’s ride and tomorrow’s route. 50 km ride with endless options for less/more!

Wednesday, 23rd

Today is the first big climbing challenge, up the Plateau de Bieille (H.C., 16km, 1250M vertical). Breakfast and begin riding at 9am, down to Tarascon, have a look at the event start area and then on to the first part of course and then up the challenging Plateau de Beille, where the event finishes, then roll back down for a lunch in Tarascon (Total ride about 90km) Free time in Village.  Dinner at Cabins. Discussion of today’s ride and tomorrow’s route.

Thursday, 24th

Now we start to taper for the big event and get used to an earlier start time. Breakfast and then at 8:00, roll down to Tarascon and ride the first minor climbs of the event route. Many route options exist. We’ll return to Vicdessos to check out the farmers’ market and have a relaxing afternoon. In the late afternoon, we’ll head to Foix, the smallest provincial capital in France, visit its well-restored 11th century Castle, check out the bike shop, and for dinner have local cuisine at a Foix restaurant.

Friday, 25th

After a leisurely breakfast at the cabins, you can ride or get a ride down to Tarascon, pick up your race packet, check out the vendor expo, and/or walk around and explore Tarascon. Lunch can be either in Tarascon or back at the cabins. In the mid-afternoon, we will take all who wish to see the 14,000 year old Grotte de Niaux cave paintings and the nearby Niaux forge and to visit neighboring mountain villages.
Pre-race dinner with other Ariegeoise riders.

Saturday 26th

The Big Day! The Ariegeoise Cyclosportive! We’ll have an early breakfast at 6am and begin the 16km descent to the start line at 7am. With the long option (165km) starting at 8am we should be on the line by 7:30. The 105km route begins at 8:30, so on the line by 8am. RIDE YOUR HEART OUT! At least two staff members will do the shorter route in order to meet you when you complete the event. The event will provide a post race meal at the top of the Plateau de Beille. After a bit of rest, we’ll  descend to the town of Les Cabannes where the vans will be parked. We’ll load the bikes and drive back to our cabins for dinner #2.


Sunday 27th

This is a leisurely recovery and travel day to Arreau. We’ll have our last breakfast at the cabins, pack the vans, have a lunch at the cabins and then drive two hours to Arreau and help you settle into your new accommodations. You are free the rest of the the day to explore the town, take a hike on nearby trails, or a short bike ride, or simply hang out at a cafe and listen to the mountain stream rush by.
Dinner at Hotel.

Monday 28th

Breakfast  at hotel
Ride: Col d’ Aspin and Hourquette d’Ancizan , (65km, 6,000 ft ) and extra credit for Pla-d’Adet,(add 35km and 5,000 ft)
This is a spectacular ride with fantastic views off the Aspin as we climb and a look down at Arreau from the very top. Lunch or simply lattes at the small cafe at Payolle, at the base of the Aspin before climbing the Horquette d’Ancizan.The Ancizan is an open, lush valley climb you will always remember even if you have a hard time pronouncing the name. After descending we can continue to the Pla-d’Adet ski station or turn towards a flat 8k return to Arreau
Dinner in hotel.

Tuesday 29th

Breakfast in hotel. This last full day of cycling will be epic. From our hotel we’ll head to the famous Col d’Aspin and hope to see the dairy cows on their mountaintop pastures. After the descent we’ll wind along the valley floor and turn left filling our water bottles from the famous spring, where hundreds of Tour riders have done the same, in Sainte-Marie-de-Campan before starting the climb of the Tourmalet. At the top, we’ll lunch at the sole business, a restaurant with pictures of Tour legends all over the walls. We then retrace our route, descending the Tourmalet and climbing the Aspin and the final descent into Arreau. 90km of Tour history await you!
Dinner at Hotel.

Wednesday 30th

Breakfast in hotel.
Early ride taking us over the Col de Peyresourde to Luchon for a light lunch and back over the Peyresourde to the hotel by 2:00. The lush green switchbacks of the Peyresourde will have you mesmerized on this 65km excursion (Mileage options exist for the energetic). We will pack your bikes and head for Toulouse, apx 2hr drive. We will stay in a hotel with shuttle service to the airport so you can easily fly out on Thursday July 1st.
Dinner in Toulouse.

Thursday 1st July

Bon Voyage! We’ll part ways and have stories and memories that will endure through our lifetimes.