FAQs about Marmot Tours Road Cycling Holidays & Challenges
General Questions about our Road Cycling Holidays
Is there a minimum age requirement?
18 is the minimum age on all our Raid Challenges. On a Classic Cols holiday we will accept bookings from 16 – 18 year olds if travelling with and, more importantly, cycling with a parent during the holiday.
How much spending money will I need?
You will need money for lunches, coffees & beers (wine is included in the evening meals) and any personal items (suncreams etc) and souvenirs. Prices vary depending on the itinerary location. All countries accept Euros though you may also want a few Swiss Francs if on the Raid Dolomites trip.
I need to cancel my trip; what should I do?
The first thing to do is contact us by email (we require written confirmation of all cancellations) to explain the situation. Please read our Terms and Conditions (sections 7 and 8) for the details. We recommend that you get insurance out at the time of booking and that you include cancellation cover, as injuries during training are not uncommon.
Do I need insurance? Will you check my policy?
Travel insurance is compulsory on all of our holidays. We are unfortunately not able to check through individual policies, but you must have insurance cover for the things below.
- Compulsory: Cover for road cycling (touring as opposed to racing or competitive cycling)
- Compulsory: Cover for medical expenses and repatriation
- Strongly advised: Holiday cancellation or curtailment (cancellation due to injury during training is not uncommon)
- Strongly advised: damage, theft or loss of personal belongings and sport equipment including bike.
Please enter your insurance details into the Before you go… section on the Link before the start of your holiday.
What will the weather be like?
We, like you, are hoping that you will get sunshine and perfect cycling temperatures but we admit it is the one aspect of your trip over which we have NO control. Weather patterns in the mountains are highly changeable so the good news is that if you do get rain/cold weather, it is not likely to stay long. Even with reliably warm weather, cycling in the mountains requires that you bring ALL the recommended layers to protect you from the cold. When you are sweaty and tired you will feel the cold on a 30 minute descent even on a hot day, let alone on a cold/foggy one. Please refer to the packing list posted on your holiday pages of the Link.
Can I arrive a day early/leave a day later?
Absolutely. Arriving a day early or leaving a day later can make it possible for you to use preferred regional airports. We are able to book you into a hotel if it is our existing start/end hotel (or you are welcome to do so yourself as you may be able to secure a better price and avoid our admin charge), and you would then pay the hotel direct for your extra costs incurred. We are not able to book or recommend other hotels as the range is just too huge and we are not up to date with the quality of the various options. We recommend using TripAdvisor or similar to find a hotel that suits your needs. For ease, you may prefer to use an airport hotel so that you are easily able to use our airport pick up and drop offs.
Can I arrive late onto a trip or leave early?
We hope you don’t have to as you will be missing out on some fabulous cycling! However we know that sometimes you need to get home for something important so we will do our best to work with you on an individual basis to make a plan. We are likely to be able to facilitate your transport but you would need to pay for any independent transfers required. Unfortunately we are not able to offer refunds or discounts for trips that are cut short, and due to the point to point nature of a lot of our trips, it may not always be simple (or cheap) to leave a trip early or join a trip late.
What’s the difference between a Classic Cols and a Raid?
Our Classic Cols holidays are very different to a Raid Challenge as there is no fixed time limit to the rides. The itinerary of our Classic Cols holidays is very flexible so that each day you can choose the basic or harder route (and sometimes one at a level in between). Classic Cols trips attract more of a range of cyclists and generally there is more of a holiday feel to the trip than there is on a Raid. Having said that, the ‘Challenge’ (harder) routes available each day on our Classic Cols holiday are typically at least as hard as a typical Raid day – this gives you plenty of opportunity for you to beast yourself as much as you wish!
A Raid is a set challenge devised by a cycling club, usually within France. It is a point to point journey with a set distance to complete each day, getting a ‘carnet’ stamped en route, rather like an Audax. Usually, there is a set time limit in which to complete the Raid. Completing a Raid is a fabulous goal to set yourself and the sense of achievement at the end is quite incredible – some have said life changing. Do check out our blog (21/03/19) on Raids which gives a thorough run down of ‘everything Raid’.
Although the Raid creates a great group dynamic because everyone is in the same situation of getting up the cols and all doing the same route, it is true to say that there isn’t as much time for getting a feel for the region whereas there is more time to stop off and take in the scenery during a Classic Cols trip.
Am I fit enough?
It is possible (some would say probable!) that the idea of doing a cycling holiday was planted in your mind while you had a drink in hand, chatting with mates. In the cool light of day it is normal (and only right) that you should consider whether or not you are fit enough to take it on!
All our Raid routes are challenging and you need to be a regular road cyclist in order to enjoy and get the most out of these trips, so please make sure the trip is right for you before you book. Many of our riders are club cyclists or have done cyclosportives or other longer distance rides. However, by no means all of them have and we have had many clients who have been fairly new to road cycling (but who have a good level of fitness, perhaps from a different sport) who have effectively trained for the trip and successfully completed a Raid. For their first Raid experience, many people choose to start with the Raid Pyrenean as it is just four and a half days in the saddle.
Our Classic Cols itineraries offer much more flexibility, with a classic and a challenge route available each day. Although we move on most days, the distance and altitude gain between hotels is manageable for anyone who regularly cycles and is motivated. For those in the group wanting more, there are optional extras at various points in the day, such as taking in a stage finish or extra climb. Should you find the route too much for one day, you are always welcome to hitch a strategic lift in one of our vans. When it comes to cycling in the mountains, we encourage everyone to ride at their own pace. This way everyone achieves what they want from their holiday and with our two support vans on the road, there is no holding people up or being held back.
Is there massage available on route?
Most of our trips are point to point and we move on each night. A few hotels on a couple of itineriaries do have the opportunity for a massage to be booked, and if so, this will be noted in the Holiday Trip Notes. Massage bookings, where possible, are made via your guides or directly with the hotel on the trip.
Navigation and Support on Your Road Cycling Holiday
Do you provide energy gels and electrolyte tabs/powders?
No – we find that there is such an array of products out there and that clients have such a specific preference for one type/flavour over another, that we ask you to bring your own energy gels. We offer a good variety of sweet and savoury snacks from the van including fruit & seed bars, salty crisps, fresh fruit, various nuts, dried fruits and cakes, but no energy or recovery products.
Do I need to bring a GPS ?
We provide comprehensive written directions, maps and climb profiles for every day of your holiday, however, there is no doubt that clients have a more relaxed experience if they have their own GPS or are cycling with someone that has a GPS. It removes the anxiety of getting lost and means you can concentrate on the scenery, the culture and the cycling. We therefore highly recommend that you do borrow or buy a GPS for your holiday. A few weeks before departure we will post your GPS files to your holiday pages on the Link with full instructions on how to download them to your GPS unit.
Will someone be able to help upload GPS files?
A few weeks before your holiday you will be able to see your GPS files on your holiday pages on the Link with full instructions on how to download them to your various GPS units. We highly recommend playing with your GPS and loading up the files before your trip as it will help you get to know your GPS and how to make it work for you, which will benefit you when you are cycling. However, if for whatever reason you can’t upload your files then our guides can assist you on the trip.
Do you arrange my flights?
No, flights are not included in the cost of your holiday. Our holiday contract with you starts when we meet you at the airport (or hotel if you have opted to travel to the start hotel independently). We will provide you with airport transfer times and you are responsible for booking a flight that ties in with those times. Groups of more than 6 travelling together may wish to contact us to see if it is mutually beneficial for us to be able to offer you a customised airport transfer.
Can I go ahead and book my flights?
The answer depends on whether your trip has already got confirmed airport pick up/drop off details showing on your holiday pages on the Link. If so, please do book your flights to fit in with the published transfer times. If you’re keen to get your flights booked but transfer times are not available yet, please email us with your proposed flight details so we can check the likelihood of those flights fitting in with our transfer plans.
We plan our airport transfer times once all budget airlines have published their schedules and aim to ‘capture’ flights from as many regional airports as possible whilst minimizing client waiting times at the airport. Depending on where you live, you may have to weigh up travel within the UK with waiting times for a transfer.
Will you meet me at the airport?
Your guide(s) (or a Marmot representative) will be at the airport to meet you if you book flights that match our airport transfers. They will be expecting you and are easily spotted, wearing Marmot Tours tops and carrying a Marmot Tours sign with them!
Can I hire a bike?
Absolutely – we have a fleet of 34 titanium framed road cycling bikes of various sizes, which have been set up specifically with road cycling in the mountains in mind. For a full spec and to read all the advantages of hiring, check out our Hire Bikes webpage.
To check availability, please email us with your height and let us know the dates of your proposed trip and we can look to see whether we have a bike of the right size available for you.
When is the latest I can book a hire bike for the trip?
Hire bikes are allocated on a first come, first served basis so it will depend on availability. It is always worth asking us as we may have had a cancellation.
What happens if my flight is delayed or if my bike doesn’t arrive?
We will deal with these situations on an individual basis but will assist you as much as we can in getting onto the trip and getting a bike to ride. All of our teams carry a spare bike with them. Additional costs incurred will need to be met by you however and claimed back via your holiday insurance as Marmot Tours is not liable for failures by airline services.
What should I carry with me on the bike?
Phone, money, emergency contact card, snacks, water, arm/leg warmers, gilet
Will you transport my bike box on the trip?
Absolutely – the ‘usual’ for our point to point trips is that your empty bike box will be put inside or on top of (wrapped nicely in tarpaulin!) one of our support vans. On trips where we start and end at the same hotel, we will leave the bike boxes at that hotel.
Do I need to bring bike lights?
Yes please – they are advisable for all trips but essential particularly for the Alps and Dolomites, where there are lots of tunnels and the lights are important for safe riding. With changeable mountain weather however, we would advise bringing them with you in any case. Please also bring front lights if you hire a bike. We do provide you with small LED ones, but they are for being seen rather than for seeing!
Can I buy CO2 cannisters, as I can’t fly with them?
Yes, we have a stock of threaded cannisters that you can take with you and pay for if you use them.
Does it matter what type of bike box/bag I have?
No, we are able to transport/store both bike boxes and bags using our support vans. Where the holiday starts and ends at the same hotel, bags and boxes will stay there during the trip. There is no access to bike boxes/bags during any trip, even if they are in one of our vans, as they will be securely packaged. Nothing should therefore be left inside them that you might need.
Can I bring carbon wheels?
Whilst we appreciate that carbon wheels have distinct advantages in terms of weight, we have experienced problems with them delaminating on extended descents in summer sun (rim brakes!). For the kind of multi day riding you will be doing on a Marmot trip we would recommend a slightly less ‘lightweight’ and sturdier wheel.
Can someone help me put my bike together on arrival?
Absolutely – we have two guides available at the start of every trip who will be ‘around’ whilst you unpack your bike and assemble it. They are obviously not able to put 20 bikes together, however they are there to advise/and help you problem solve if you get stuck. In reality, we find that there are usually lots of clients within a group who are happy to help others with their bike assembly.
What spares should I bring for my bike?
On your holiday pages on the Link you will find a suggested packing list, which details all the clothing as well as bike spares you need to bring. It also specifies what you need to bring if you are hiring a bike. Tools (apart from tyre levers, a mini pump and puncture repair kit) are not required as Marmot Tours has them available (including a torque wrench) for you to use on arrival.
Do you provide mounts for GPS on hire bikes?
No, please bring your own with you (and remember to take it off the bike again at the end of the trip!)
What pedals do you provide with hire bikes?
Please bring your own set of pedals to be fitted to your hire bike, so that you can be confident with the set up and match for your cleats/biking shoes.
Can I book a single room?
Yes, as long as there is one available at the hotels. They are allocated on a first come, first served basis, for clients who have confirmed their reservations with a booking and deposit. A single supplement is payable for single rooms – you can find details in the Dates & Prices section of the website page for each holiday. Where there is a single room available for most nights but not for one or two, we will charge you a single room supplement on a pro rata basis.
I have specific dietary requirements (e.g. vegetarian/gluten/dairy free): can you arrange meals for me?
The short answer is yes, we can, but depending on where you are travelling with us, it may not be as simple an answer as that. Italy and Spain are pretty good with managing specific dietary requirements but despite a lot of education and perseverance, French hotels still struggle at times. They are able to provide vegetarian/vegan or gluten free meals but they lack imagination and over the course of the week you are likely to get repetitive dishes. Our office lets the hotel know of any dietary requirements in our groups well in advance of the trip and our guides confirm this with the hotel on their arrival. Our recommendation is that you let us know what kind of meals you eat when exercising and we will do our utmost to maximize the potential of the hotels.
NB: Most hotels will offer a set meal so we ask that everyone stick to their chosen dietary regime as the hotels really struggle with clients choosing a vegetarian meal one night and then eating meat the next (those that prefer vegetarian meals when travelling but do eat meat depending on the dish).
Are there laundry facilities?
As our itineraries are generally point to point, options to use hotel laundry facilities (where they exist) are limited. However, we have a system for drying hand washed kit so bring hand wash with you. Your guides will explain the system for your particular holiday. Please use the packing list provided to help you gauge what to bring.
Do the hotels have wifi?
Yes, of sorts! Some only have a signal in reception as opposed to in individual rooms. It is also worth considering that with Strava being as popular as it is, a lot of our hotels’ wifi signals struggle in the evenings with everyone uploading their routes.
Can my non-cycling companion come on the holiday too?
As a Tour Operator specialising in running road cycling holidays, our priority has always been to create and develop mouth watering itineraries that appeal to regular and fit cyclists. As time has gone on however, we have started to receive more requests to bring along non-cycling partners. Many of our itineraries are not suitable for non-cyclists due to the point-to-point nature of the route. Non-cyclists that have joined such trips in the past have spent long hours travelling in our support vans, or in their own vehicle, with little flexibility to create enjoyment for themselves. However, we do have a few itineraries on our calendar that lend themselves perfectly to non-cycling clients in spite of being designed with the cyclist in mind:
Classic Cols of Gran Canaria: Set across only 2 hotels, there is an option for non-cyclists to hire their own car and explore different areas of the island whilst their partner does the same by bike. Easy to navigate around, with car hire available at the arrival airport, partners can be independent during the day and then meet up with the cycling group in the evenings. Both hotels have lovely terrace and pool side areas for those wanting to relax for a few days.
Ventoux Cingles Challenge: Based from the beautiful Provence hotel Domaine des Tilleuls, set in its own grounds and with a pool and terrace, non-cycling partners have the option to explore Malaucene, the local town, relax for a couple of days whilst their partner will be climbing Ventoux or explore the area around the base of the mountain.
Dolomites Minibreak: Sporthotel Europa is a lakeside chalet hotel in Alleghe in the heart of the Dolomites. A fabulous area to explore on a bike, it is also equally beautiful to view from Alleghe for those wanting 4 days away in stunning surroundings. Local walking, sunbathing, swimming or taking a pedalo on the lake are all options for a non-cycling partner.
Alpine Minibreak: The Maurienne valley is equally beautiful to explore on foot, so non-cycling partners have plenty to do on this short break. The Hotel Saint-Georges in St. Jean de Maurienne is ideally located for local shops, cultural and sport activities as well as for local walks and hiking. It’s not a necessity but if you hire a car your options widen and you can go higher up into the mountains.