Marmot Tours Road Cycling Holidays: Summer of 2015

It seems quite unbelievable that the end of our 2015 season is just a week away.   The distinct lack of new posts to the website is testiment to the fact that it has been a very busy time for everyone at Team Marmot!   I wanted to put together a little recap of the season to show just what we (and our clients) have been doing with our time.  Suffice to say that many mountains have been climbed, friendships made, countries explored, nature wondered at and passion for the bicycle expanded yet further!

Raid Corsica in May

Way back in May we started our season off with Raid Corsica: a beautiful 1000km circular route around the Isle de Beauté in 6 days of cycling.  Ever popular with experienced Raiders and other fit cyclists looking for a challenge and some stunning early season cycling – warm scented breezes, azure seas and Corsican culture and cuisine.   Holiday expectations were met and exceeded!

Classic cycling climbs in the Pyrenees

Having lived there until last year, the Pyrenees always holds a special place in our heart and we always start our season there with the well-loved Pyrenean Classic Cols.  The best ‘starter’ holiday for those who are new to cycling in the mountains, our clients warmed up gently on the Classic route before getting to conquer the Tourmalet on the last day of the holiday.

Those who did the Challenge route had no end of fabulous stage endings to ‘nip up’ and got just as tired as they wanted to: Hautacam, Plateau de Beille and Pla d’adet to name a few! Meanwhile, others were making the same choices of Classic or Challenge route in the Picos, about 700kms away.  To do Angliru or not to do Angliru, that was the question!

Classic climbs of the Picos

The Classic Cols of the Picos trip has been extremely well received this year… a quiet, relatively unexplored and very beautiful area to cycle around with some epic climbs such as Covadonga and Gamoniteiro.  Running at the start of the season, and then again now, as we draw the season to a close, this has been a wonderful spring and autumn destination.

A great achievement and effort from our clients!

Marmot Tours started supporting Raid Pyrenean trips many years ago and each year we are thrilled to accompany cyclists on this journey.  2015 has seen around 180 Marmot Tours clients achieve the 720km traverse from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean in the allotted 100 hours.  It is no mean feat.  The challenge is physical and psychological.

We are continuously impressed and awed by the efforts and determination shown by our Raiders, both Pyrenean and elsewhere, and the good grace and humour with which they face the climbs in front of them.   Again this season we have been reminded that our Raids are a meeting of like minded folk who are up for a challenge but also up for a laugh along the way, and all our guides have had a great time offering you all support.

Alpine classic cols and climbs plus Raid Alpine

We can never start our Alpine itineraries until a little later in the year due to lingering snow levels on the higher peaks, but the Raid Dolomites at the end of June kick-started our time in this infamous mountain range, followed by Alpine Classic Cols weeks and of course the Raid Alpine, in June and July.

In spite of its well developed tourism industry, the Alps remains a fabulous place to go on a bike.  No Tour de France supporter can deny the great feeling you get from topping mountains such as the Telegraphe, Galibier and Iseran (Alpine Classic Cols) or the Cime de la Bonette and Izoard (Raid Alpine).  Margo has ‘favourited’ the Galibier as her favourite Alpine climb this season and it is incredible – very open, huge views, and infamous, but we suspect that she like it most because there are plenty of Marmots to be spotted if you keep your eyes peeled!

Ventoux assault cycling holiday

Of particular cause for excitement this season was our launch of the Ventoux Assault trip.  Possibly viewed as a mini break… (i.e. only 2 and a half days of cycling), there was not much ‘break’ for the riders who signed up for the Club des Cingles Ventoux Challenge: 3 ascents of the iconic mountain in 1 day!   We (and they!) loved it!   The history of that climb just seeps out of the tarmac and for those that did all 3 climbs, they well and truly deserved their membership into the Club des Cingles (translated as Brotherhood of Nutters!).

Classic cycling climbs of the Dolomites

Also new to the Marmot Tours Calendar this year was the long awaited Classic Cols of the Dolomites.  Wow, what a trip!  Some of our very regular clients who have done most of the itineraries that we have on offer, have claimed it to be the best cycling they have ever done.  The area is just breathtaking and the climbs epic – I’ll just mention the Stelvio and Giau to make you all green!

Raid Dolomites

The Dolomites was also a favourite with our Raid Dolomites clients this year, who deserve a special mention… they completed their Raid in 9 days of cycling across 3 countries (France, Switzerland and Italy), massing up an epic 20,900m of ascent over greats such as the Splugen Pass, Tre Cime di Lavaredo and Sella Pordoi.

Dolomites cycling minibreak

Those who didn’t have the luxury (?) of spending either 9 or 6 days in the saddle but who were still desperate to see the Dolomites, went for our centre based Dolomites Minibreak and enjoyed 4 fantastic circuits from the Lakeside Hotel in the heart of the mountains.

Exciting plans for the future

As winter looms we have plans up our sleeves for the launch of 3 new fantastic cycling holidaysitineraries; 2 Raid routes and a Classic Cols holiday.  I can’t say any more for now except that you are going to love them, and we will be launching the first new trip next week.  The other 2 launches will follow later in October so watch this space…we’ll be telling you all about it on Facebook and Twitter too, so don’t worry, you won’t miss it!

A big thank you!

James and I want to end this by saying a few big thankyous:  to Catherine and Kate in the office who work so hard all year to ensure that the admin side of our holidays runs as smoothly as the trips themselves.  I know that all this year’s clients will also join me in saying a big thank you to our fabulous team of guides.   I could wax lyrical for some time about how wonderful they are, and not a bit of it would be exaggerated.  They are the face of Marmot Tours and their efforts, humour, experience and all round ‘niceness’ ensures that you have an excellent holiday experience.  Well done Team!