This month, one of our loyal clients Monica Guy has written about why Marmot Tours cycling holidays appeal to her as a female cyclist…
I’m a female cyclist who loves riding in the mountains, and I know there are plenty of other women like me.
But women on most regular cycling holidays get a (frankly) rubbish choice. We can either go for a gentle pootle around the lavender fields, stopping for cake after 20 minutes. Or we can cling desperately to the back of a peloton of baying wolves on the Sport XL ride, knowing that if we’re dropped, probably no-one would even look round to see if we were okay.
For a while, I thought maybe other women just didn’t like long or challenging cycle tours. Maybe they were too intimidated. Or maybe they just had more sense. And then I came across Marmot Tours while daydreaming on Google about cycling across the Pyrenees.
The Raid Pyrenean was tough but immensely satisfying – not just the feeling of riding from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean in 100 hours, but the realisation that I can ride challenging routes in high mountains without having to chase guys with steel pistons in their legs to the top of every climb. I’ve since done several other Marmot Raids (Alps, Corsica) and two Classic Cols (Dolomites, Picos) as a single, a couple and with friends.
So why do I keep going back? Here’s what’s good about Marmot for female cyclists and anyone else who doesn’t feel the need to tear up the tarmac:
- The freedom to do challenging rides at your own pace without feeling like you’re “holding up the group” – or being held up. Even on Marmot’s more challenging tours, like the Raids, you can go as fast or as slow as you please and stop for coffee or lunch whenever you like. Most people join up with others and meet at the same lunch place, but there’s no obligation.
- The Classic Cols trips, which offer two or three route options each day. No-one is ever ‘obliged’ to do the “challenge” route. If you’d rather go back for a long hot soak in the tub, then that’s completely fine. No pressure and definitely judgement at all.
- Two support vans, which means you have regular opportunities to access your day bag and won’t have to stuff extra layers, cereal bars, money, phones, rain gear, arm warmers and the kitchen sink into your jersey pockets.
- The guides, who have a superhuman ability to appear just at the right time with whatever you happen to need: a tray of brownies, the latest weather info, encouragement, lights for the tunnels, your day bag (see above) or just a laugh.
- The flawless organisation. It’s a real pleasure to be given detailed maps and Garmin tracks and not to have to worry about logistics.
- The relaxed, inclusive atmosphere. Evenings are spent enjoying generous dinners at long tables, with good wine and conversation – because if I say so myself, people who choose Marmot tours are always interesting, laid-back and fond of the good things in life. There aren’t many of those guys who go to bed at 9pm and choose to survive all day on a six-pack of energy gel.
The first point is so important that I have to repeat it. Marmot’s top selling point for me is the freedom to do challenging rides at my own pace. I don’t get that with other bike tour companies. I don’t get that with my partner or even with my local cycling club. And that’s why I, like so many other cyclists both male and female, return again and again.
Because at the end of the day, it’s nothing to do with being a man or a woman, old or young, fast or slow, experienced or still finding your legs. It’s about the thrill of being out on your bike in Europe’s most spectacular mountains with a mixed group of cool people – Marmot people – who feel the same way as you.