Forum home Road cycling forum Tours, routes, audaxes & organised rides Sportives/audaxes/training rides

Raid Pyrenean/Alpine

davieseedaviesee Posts: 6,386
Following on from the comments about Sports Tours International, here are two questions.

1. What is the general opinion of the Raid Tours?
There are good reviews on their site but then they would say that, wouldn't they? :wink:

2. How manageable are they? My heart says yes, my legs say no :oops:
I am regular cyclist and found the Etape Caledonia easy so I am fairly confident that I could manage a one day stage but six in a row????????????

I am hoping for good reviews and a steady pace is manageable but would like to hear from those who have actually completed it, possibly with training regimes. 8)
None of the above should be taken seriously, and certainly not personally.

Posts

  • BeaconRuthBeaconRuth Posts: 2,086
    I've done both, but only the Raid Alpine with Sporting Tours (I'm not quite sure of the organisational structue of Sports Tours International and Graham Baxter's Sporting Tours since the former bought the latter.) It was well over a decade ago, though, so I suppose I'd better not comment too frankly about the organisation back then.

    The routes of the raids are both stupendous and very very highly recommended. I don't recall doing any special training for either, other than fairly normal club cycling. Everyone has to complete a challenge of that nature at his/her own pace and if that means you take all day to complete each stage, so be it. You've all the more time to enjoy it if you take your time and ride within yourself. If you want to pretend you're a racing cyclist and do it quickly, that's up to you, but when I did the raids most of the groups were in it to enjoy the scenery, stop for coffee, lunch and tea and generally complete the distance at their own pace.

    Ruth
  • GarrigouGarrigou Posts: 145
    Agree with BeaconRuth - they're both great rides & if you are riding regularly before you sign up & then take things at a pace you're comfortable with during the trip, I'd expect you to be fine. Not sure you need to pay STI prices though. There are smaller independent operators offering similar/same routes & well-reviewed support/back-up for less money.
    Between me & Eddy Merckx we've won pretty much everything worth winning on a bike.
  • fluff.fluff. Posts: 771
    Did the Alpine one in Graham Baxter days, so again can't really comment on the organisation now. The Thonon-Les-Bain to Antibes route I did was really enjoyable though. There was a pretty wide range of abilities and ages on the trip, so was easy to find a group that went your pace, and took a similar amount of coffee stops :) Didn't do any special training, but I found that it got significantly easier as the week went on, day one I was cream crackered, thinking how can I do this 5 more days. The last full day on the bike I was flying up the hills almost at the speed of the quick group.
  • mrushtonmrushton Posts: 5,182
    I think Pyractif who always seem to get a good press do some kind of raid.

    www.pyractif.com
    M.Rushton
  • JamesBJamesB Posts: 1,184
    Have a look at Pyractif website; they do a Pyrenees C2C which may also be put together as a 100hr Raid if you wanted; I`ve doen their C2C West > East two years ago and can`t fault them or route; back again to do a rather more difficult east>west version. :) (16000m ascent over 6 days :shock: )

    In terms of experience the C2C two yeras ago was my first foray to big continental climbs; I did a few sportives (hilly Welsh ones...), rode up and down my local 10 min climb hills frequently and found route to be ok (450 miles 10000 m ascent in 6 days if I recall correctly). Once I had got my head around issues of taking it steady climbs `fell into place`---only glitch being first big col of marie blanque when I tried to go too fast and was riding at zone 5 levels for far too long for comfort. It`s not a race after all!.
  • davieseedaviesee Posts: 6,386
    Thanks!

    The club is thinking of doing the Pyrenean one next year with Marmot Tours.

    http://www.marmot-tours.co.uk/summaries/rfr.htm

    The guys say it is doable but they are faster,stronger and more used to doing long distances, ie regularly doing a few 100 milers per week and race.

    The fact that it includes most of the major Cols is kinda scarey.

    Great to hear from others that it is manageable - at a pace :wink:
    Sounds like a wonderful experience.
    None of the above should be taken seriously, and certainly not personally.
  • JamesBJamesB Posts: 1,184
    Yes I think that`s the key point , at a pace!
    My most useful piece of gizmo was HRM, ride by that and not speed etc and you should be OK; and I also packed an extra low gear for bail out time (34 x 29), which had a little use at times :lol:
  • ugo.santaluciaugo.santalucia Posts: 26,805
    daviesee wrote:
    Thanks!

    The club is thinking of doing the Pyrenean one next year with Marmot Tours.

    http://www.marmot-tours.co.uk/summaries/rfr.htm

    The guys say it is doable but they are faster,stronger and more used to doing long distances, ie regularly doing a few 100 milers per week and race.

    The fact that it includes most of the major Cols is kinda scarey.

    Great to hear from others that it is manageable - at a pace :wink:
    Sounds like a wonderful experience.

    I've done the Raid Pyrenees with Marmot in June this year. I can only recommend them, they really go a step further and the price is really competitive.
    As for the raid per se, I enjoyed it, despite the terrible weather we had on day 2-3-4.

    It is a tough challenge, where you are required to be on the bike from 8 AM to 7 PM, with 2-3 breaks for lunch and coffee. Luckily the support vehicles meet you along the way in key points to refill bottles and to provide some snacks (and directions and encouragement).

    In my view, day two was the toughest, with the Aubisque-Solour and the Tourmalet. We did it in bad weather and I remember always being wet and cold, despite the winter clothes.

    A few pieces of advice if you embark in this challenge:

    1) Avoid the temptation of racing on day one... some in the group certainly will... if you want to ride hard, day 2 and 3 are the ones to target. It's pointless to waste energy on the col d' Osquich when you have the Aubisque first thing the day after. Day 5 is also good for racing as it's short and climbs are easy.

    2) Bring all your winter clothes, I mean all, overshoes, thick gloves, winter jackets, long tights... newspapers, you will need them on day two if the weather is bad. Also, for the Tourmalet you will probably ned a small gear. I normally have 34x23, but on the Tourmalet I've used a 28 and I was glad I had it.

    3) The Aubisque gives you an idea of how the Tourmalet is, so pace it... I rode it hard and had to pace the Tourmalet very slowly... you can't ride hard both. The stretch of road between the Aubisque and the Solour is stunning, enjoy it rather than hammering down. Mind the livestock in the middle of the road (as seen in the Tour as well)

    4) In my opinion day 3 is easier than it looks: Aspin (stunning climb) and Peyresourde are pretty straightforward and the Col des Ares is not worth mentioning. However the Portet d'Aspet is a tough one, 4 Km at 10% average, so make sure you've got somethnig in the tank for that.

    5) Day 4 is tougher than it looks on the profile... the Port is very easy but the Puymorens is a neverending climb on a busy road... not nice. After that the road is not as flat as on the map... I remember being very tired on the little col de la Perche (but the descent was awsome)

    And more than all, have fun!
  • davieseedaviesee Posts: 6,386
    Ugo - Thanks very much for a wonderful write up.

    Comments:-

    Good to know Marmott are a good company.

    Weather - Phil Liggett put me off during the Tour by constantly referring to how the climbs are usually covered in clouds. This is the main reason for considering the Alpine version instead. Not as much "feather in cap" climbs though but better to be able to see the wonderful scenery you are cycling through :(

    8am - 7pm - That sounds like a long day. What kind of pace was that on the flats, if there are any? I was hoping for 8:00-9:00 to 17:00-18:00.

    No racing for me. This is for enjoyment and self satisfaction.

    34 x 28 - Sounds reasonable. I currently run a 50/34 x 11/23 and was considering getting a 12/27 for tours like this.

    Cheers!
    None of the above should be taken seriously, and certainly not personally.
  • mrushtonmrushton Posts: 5,182
    Don't believe the Alps are any better. Mtns make their own weather. I've been thro' the Alps in torrential rain and 20km later be in blazing sun. It's just your luck.
    M.Rushton
  • ugo.santaluciaugo.santalucia Posts: 26,805
    daviesee wrote:
    Ugo - Thanks very much for a wonderful write up.

    Comments:-

    Good to know Marmott are a good company.

    Weather - Phil Liggett put me off during the Tour by constantly referring to how the climbs are usually covered in clouds. This is the main reason for considering the Alpine version instead. Not as much "feather in cap" climbs though but better to be able to see the wonderful scenery you are cycling through :(

    8am - 7pm - That sounds like a long day. What kind of pace was that on the flats, if there are any? I was hoping for 8:00-9:00 to 17:00-18:00.

    No racing for me. This is for enjoyment and self satisfaction.

    34 x 28 - Sounds reasonable. I currently run a 50/34 x 11/23 and was considering getting a 12/27 for tours like this.

    Cheers!

    Bad weather in the mountains is normal, alps and pyrenees. In summer the afternoons are often overcast (convection) and weather changes rapidly in view of stronger winds. The temperature drops about 1 degree every 100 metres, so on a hot day in the valley at 30 degrees, you'll have 13-14 on top of the Tourmalet (mt 2115), but if you have clouds and 18-20 degrees at Luz St. Saveur, then on top you're left with 2-3 degrees only. Imagine in the Alps, the Iseran tops at 2770mt!

    There is no way one can do a 9 AM-5 PM... in the Rais Pyrenean: stages are long and you'll have to climb 3-3.5 K vertical metres per day. A long stop for lunch is also advised... you can't survive on snacks and gels for 5 days.
    We were a strong group and all managed to get to the hotel between 6.30 and 7.30 PM, but I've heard of cyclists in weaker groups coming back at 10 PM, not getting enough rest and bonking the following day.

    To give you an idea, I ride about 6-7K miles per year and average 15-18 mph depending on how rolling-moderately hilly courses (Chilterns-Oxfordshire area).

    The averages in the Pyrenees (as my memory recalls) were as follows:

    Day one: 110 miles at 17 mph

    Day two: 80 miles at 12 mph

    Day three: 108 miles at 14 mph

    Day four: 105 miles at 14 mph

    Day five: 60 miles at 18 mph

    I don't think you should be put off by the length of the stages... you'll be in good company and the scenery on days 1-3 is magnificient. Just make sure you go with friends of similar ability
  • Ugo's account brought back the memories!
    I would agree with all of it. We started at 6.30am each day and had breaks for b/fast and lunch each day but were still in the saddle for 10hrs+. Its one hell of a challenge but do-able if you've put the training in. Whatever you do dont underestimate ANY of it!

    As for the Alps? the Grand Route Des Alps is a fantastic ride but imo easier. The options for breaking up the route are more varied as plenty of accomodation on the route whereas the Pyrenees are more remote and your tied to where you can stay.

    To get a feel for climbing 'proper' mountains i took my bike out to the alps on a skiing trip and rode LaPlagne twice. Mentally that helped me alot.
    Good luck.
  • davieseedaviesee Posts: 6,386

    but I've heard of cyclists in weaker groups coming back at 10 PM, not getting enough rest and bonking the following day.

    Recovery is my main concern :oops:
    As I said originally, I am sure i could push through for one day but 6 in a row is daunting.

    Thanks for the comments. Much appreciated.
    None of the above should be taken seriously, and certainly not personally.
  • ugo.santaluciaugo.santalucia Posts: 26,805
    daviesee wrote:

    but I've heard of cyclists in weaker groups coming back at 10 PM, not getting enough rest and bonking the following day.

    Recovery is my main concern :oops:
    As I said originally, I am sure i could push through for one day but 6 in a row is daunting.

    Thanks for the comments. Much appreciated.[/quote

    A good idea is to go for a long weekend of cycling before signing up for the raid... for example you could sign for a sportive in autumn somewhere hilly (like wales) and take the all weekend, adding one ride the day before and another one the day after.... if you do three tough days, you can do the Raid Pyrenean, which is 4 tough days plus a stroll to the sea.

    For instance, Last year I enetered the Autumn Epic in Knighton (Wales) and enjoyed it very much
  • davieseedaviesee Posts: 6,386
    daviesee wrote:

    but I've heard of cyclists in weaker groups coming back at 10 PM, not getting enough rest and bonking the following day.

    Recovery is my main concern :oops:
    As I said originally, I am sure i could push through for one day but 6 in a row is daunting.

    Thanks for the comments. Much appreciated.[/quote

    A good idea is to go for a long weekend of cycling before signing up for the raid... for example you could sign for a sportive in autumn somewhere hilly (like wales) and take the all weekend, adding one ride the day before and another one the day after.... if you do three tough days, you can do the Raid Pyrenean, which is 4 tough days plus a stroll to the sea.

    For instance, Last year I enetered the Autumn Epic in Knighton (Wales) and enjoyed it very much

    Now you are just adding to the holidays that i have to convince the wife about :lol:
    i might just try 4 days in Scotland. I don't have to go far and can sleep in my own bed 8)
    Good advice though.
    None of the above should be taken seriously, and certainly not personally.
  • skinseyskinsey Posts: 105
    Ugo - thanks for your accounts. I'm off to do the RP with Marmot at the start of Sept, and whilst I was going to pack a few winter clothes, I'll probably put a few more in now. Just one question - because of time constraints the only way I could get there was with Ryanair, so I've opted to hire one of Marmot's bikes rather than take my own pride and joy. Did anyone do this on your trip and if so, what kind of state were they in?
  • MrTMrT Posts: 260
    Just for info...I was staying in the village where Marmot are based and bumped into Cathy in the local Spar. She arrannged for me to hire (at a v reasonable rate) one of their bikes so I could hack up Plateau Beille. I had a Specialized allez (with clips and straps so it may be worth bringing some road pedals out). Bike was in top shape with granny ring...thank God....everything well maintained so you shouldn't have any worries. Now hinking about doing a Raid with them myself.
  • did the pyrenean in june as well with marmot tours, again i would definitely recommend, both marmot tours and the idea of doing it generally.
    ugo - i may have even been on the same one as you :D (i'm a.k.a. Ben if so :D )
    if you want to, all the better, but don't worry about 'training' for it, you don't have to be a cat 1 racer to get round. you do however have to be reasonably fit, have good endurance to do ~100 mile days and be comfortable riding in all weathers, which there will be, don't assume 'cos it's the south of france it will be nice and hot and sunny all the time, in fact the two times i've been to s. france this year the weather generally has been markedly worse even in wales, let alone the rest of britain :wink:
  • ugo.santaluciaugo.santalucia Posts: 26,805
    skinsey wrote:
    Ugo - thanks for your accounts. I'm off to do the RP with Marmot at the start of Sept, and whilst I was going to pack a few winter clothes, I'll probably put a few more in now. Just one question - because of time constraints the only way I could get there was with Ryanair, so I've opted to hire one of Marmot's bikes rather than take my own pride and joy. Did anyone do this on your trip and if so, what kind of state were they in?

    You're lucky, I hired too...

    I've hired the 180 pounds one, it's a Time Carbon frame with Campagnolo Centaur groupset and Campagnolo wheels. Good bike, despite my carbon-fobia, I loved the ride, both uphill and downhill. Bring your own saddle for comfort and your own pedals. A good computer helps as the one it's fitted with is rubbish.
    If it's a 54 size, chances are you'll make the raid on my bike! You'll have to get to Cerbere before 11.15 AM to beat me though!
  • ugo.santaluciaugo.santalucia Posts: 26,805
    MrT wrote:
    Just for info...I was staying in the village where Marmot are based and bumped into Cathy in the local Spar. She arrannged for me to hire (at a v reasonable rate) one of their bikes so I could hack up Plateau Beille. I had a Specialized allez (with clips and straps so it may be worth bringing some road pedals out). Bike was in top shape with granny ring...thank God....everything well maintained so you shouldn't have any worries. Now hinking about doing a Raid with them myself.

    That's the emergency bike they carry around at the back of the van... not one I would go for, but rideable
  • ugo.santaluciaugo.santalucia Posts: 26,805
    did the pyrenean in june as well with marmot tours, again i would definitely recommend, both marmot tours and the idea of doing it generally.
    ugo - i may have even been on the same one as you :D (i'm a.k.a. Ben if so :D )
    if you want to, all the better, but don't worry about 'training' for it, you don't have to be a cat 1 racer to get round. you do however have to be reasonably fit, have good endurance to do ~100 mile days and be comfortable riding in all weathers, which there will be, don't assume 'cos it's the south of france it will be nice and hot and sunny all the time, in fact the two times i've been to s. france this year the weather generally has been markedly worse even in wales, let alone the rest of britain :wink:

    No Ben with us, you must have been in the group which left one day behind us... you never caught us... :lol:
    We had Nathan and Cathy as support... you probably had James
  • did the pyrenean in june as well with marmot tours, again i would definitely recommend, both marmot tours and the idea of doing it generally.
    ugo - i may have even been on the same one as you :D (i'm a.k.a. Ben if so :D )
    if you want to, all the better, but don't worry about 'training' for it, you don't have to be a cat 1 racer to get round. you do however have to be reasonably fit, have good endurance to do ~100 mile days and be comfortable riding in all weathers, which there will be, don't assume 'cos it's the south of france it will be nice and hot and sunny all the time, in fact the two times i've been to s. france this year the weather generally has been markedly worse even in wales, let alone the rest of britain :wink:

    No Ben with us, you must have been in the group which left one day behind us... you never caught us... :lol:
    We had Nathan and Cathy as support... you probably had James
    no i realised I must have been on a different one when you said
    You'll have to get to Cerbere before 11.15 AM to beat me though!
    :wink:
    yes we had James for support, and Tez
  • Just stumbled across this thread. A friend and I were thinking of doing a Raid Pyrenean event next year; without having to search through all the threads, what are the issues with STI?

    Marmot Tours seem highly recommended.
  • cacbynamecacbyname Posts: 285
    I've done two Raid Alpines with STI - no issues at all with the organisation and it is highly recommended. I belive the same applies to the Rain Pyrenean.
    The issues with STI that some people have had have been with the Etape, not the Raids.
  • cacbyname wrote:
    ...the Rain Pyrenean
    yep, there was quite a bit of that :wink:
Sign In or Register to comment.