Ideas for cheap 'proper mountains' weekenders?

ChrisFilter
ChrisFilter Posts: 50
edited January 2015 in Tour & expedition
Hi all,

Does anyone have any suggestions for cheap road cycling weekenders in proper mountains? I guess it'll be hard to beat driving to the Alps and camping but perhaps people have experiences with flying to more 'off the beaten track' destinations and renting bikes cheaply?

All suggestions very welcome; destinations, places to stay, hire places, climbs, etc.

Thanks,

Chris

Comments

  • andymiller
    andymiller Posts: 2,856
    I've spent a lot of time in the Italian Alps and Dolomites and the day I clocked up the most climbing recently was the day I went over Exmoor. Pretty much anywhere you live in the UK there'll be challenging climbing a train ride away.

    Bike hire in a lot of holiday destinations tends to be by the week and you pay a premium for shorter periods.

    Save your pennies and go somewhere for a week or more.
  • bob6397
    bob6397 Posts: 218
    Stay in the UK - lots of hills wherever you look (generally, anyway :) ). Try Youth Hostelling as an alternative to camping - no need to carry tent/stove/food (apart from snacks) and great fun. And you get a better night's sleep than in a tent :)

    Pick somewhere and head out - Cumbria/The Lakes/The Dales/The Moors/The Peaks... the list goes on. Just google "best road cycling hills in ..." to find a decent route - and the roads tend to be quiet :)
    Boardman HT Team - Hardtail
    Rose Pro-SL 2000 - Roadie
  • I personally love the Brecons & black mountains in wales. Base yourself in abergavenny & there's just fabulous climbing in all directions. The longest climb is about 15 miles to the top of the gospel pass; the others no more than a mile or so but you can find some really steep 20% gradients if that's your thing (otherwise most are 5-10%). And you can take your own bike. The wales velothon is doing some of the easier bits around there (taking the tumble from the mild side!).
  • Thanks, everyone. Appreciate your replies. I do enjoy UK roads but you can't beat the sense of scale in the Alps or wherever. I think part of what I'm after is the experience of being away from home that you just don't get on British soil.

    I suppose I was just wondering if anyone knew of any paths less well trodden.
  • andymiller
    andymiller Posts: 2,856
    you can't beat the sense of scale in the Alps or wherever. I think part of what I'm after is the experience of being away from home that you just don't get on British soil.

    Indeed, but while I guess the idea of just popping off to the Alps for the weekend is superficially attractive the reality is spending a load of time travelling (don't forget to add the time to get from the airport to the mountains - as well as the cost of a transfer or hire car). Drive there and you could spend more time driving than riding. I know that for some people work or family commitments mean that a week away cycling isn't an option but if you have the chance a week away is the way to go. If weekends are the only option then look for an airport that's close to the Alps - just don't expect the trip to be cheap.
  • MartAstur
    MartAstur Posts: 122
    Have you ever thought about Asturias in Northern Spain?. It's where Froome and Contador battled it out in the Vuelta last year. The climbing is on a par with anywhere else in Europe but you also have a lovely coast line. It only takes an hour and 40 minutes to fly here and accommodation is pretty cheap too. You can check it out by looking at https://bikeasturias.wordpress.com
    Hope you find it of some interest. I assure you it's a trip you will never forget.

    Cheers
    M
  • I suppose I was just wondering if anyone knew of any paths less well trodden.

    I present the Bealach na Bà https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@57.41111 ... pFIZ1A!2e0 - not to be attempted in January!
  • knedlicky
    knedlicky Posts: 3,097
    I don’t know what your idea of cheap is, and I haven’t done this myself, but for about £230 plus meals, you could have 3 days/4 nights riding the Austrian Alps …

    Fly to Innsbrück with Easyjet (from Gatwick, about £35-40 each way in May, 2 flights in each direction per week),
    get cheap room (about £28 p.n. single, about £47 p.n. double, there are 3-4 such-priced places between the airport and the town centre, a distance of only 5 km),
    hire from CrazyBikez (the shop is between the airport and the town centre, so you could even pick up your bike en route to your accommodation; they have the aluminium Trek Madone 2.1 for about £17 +/- per day, depending on hire duration),
    plenty of passes and dead-end climbs nearby in all directions, esp to the west,
    no need for a hire car to get from the airport or to reach the mountains.

    If you are up to it, from Innsbrück you could do the whole Öztaler Radmarathon route in one day, so into Italy and back (240 km, 5500 metres climbing!). Other similar, if not quite so long or difficult, circular tours are possible to the W and NW.
    The local trains and some buses also take bikes, so if you want to get slightly farther afield one day, maybe to get close enough to ride the Stelvio, that is also possible if you arrange yourself.
  • andymiller
    andymiller Posts: 2,856
    knedlicky wrote:
    The local trains and some buses also take bikes, so if you want to get slightly farther afield one day, maybe to get close enough to ride the Stelvio, that is also possible if you arrange yourself.

    Innsbruck sounds like a good choice. The Stelvio is a bit tricky - you could get to Prad am Stilfserjoch/Prato allo Stelvio by train changing at Bozen/Bolzano and (IIRC) Meran. But bear in mind that the Vinschgau Radweg is very popular - so popular that from May to October there are restrictions on taking bikes on most trains, although there is a bike transport service. Also in summer weekend trains back over the Brenner Pass can be busy as a lot of German cyclists cycle to places like the Lago di Garda and get the train back.
  • Can't beat Morzine for a weekend. Only an hour from Genvea, lots of great hills for a weekend e.g Col de Joux Plan, Col de colombiere, Col de Ramaz, lovely town, quiet roads. If you time is right there are a few local sportives on a well. I am doing the Morzine Sportive on June 22. Or the JPP Papin (yes the footballer) is on July 5th starting a nearby town.

    We stay with www.ridersrefuge.co.uk when we go. They pick and drop us off from the airport, we stay in a catered ski chalet, it's all good.

    http://www.chaletmorzine.com/wp-content ... -Guide.pdf
  • briantrumpet
    briantrumpet Posts: 18,772
    I agree on the not driving bit. It costs me £500+ to take the car on the round-trip to SE France once everything's been taken into account (fuel, ferries, insurance, road tolls), and even that excludes wear-and-tear. It's only worth it and manageable if I've got three drivers/passengers, and stay for a week, given that the journey adds up to about 18 hours.

    If going by myself, flying and train is cheaper and much less tiring.
  • navrig2
    navrig2 Posts: 1,851
    knedlicky wrote:
    I don’t know what your idea of cheap is, and I haven’t done this myself, but for about £230 plus meals, you could have 3 days/4 nights riding the Austrian Alps …

    Fly to Innsbrück with Easyjet (from Gatwick, about £35-40 each way in May, 2 flights in each direction per week),
    get cheap room (about £28 p.n. single, about £47 p.n. double, there are 3-4 such-priced places between the airport and the town centre, a distance of only 5 km),
    hire from CrazyBikez (the shop is between the airport and the town centre, so you could even pick up your bike en route to your accommodation; they have the aluminium Trek Madone 2.1 for about £17 +/- per day, depending on hire duration),
    plenty of passes and dead-end climbs nearby in all directions, esp to the west,
    no need for a hire car to get from the airport or to reach the mountains.

    If you are up to it, from Innsbrück you could do the whole Öztaler Radmarathon route in one day, so into Italy and back (240 km, 5500 metres climbing!). Other similar, if not quite so long or difficult, circular tours are possible to the W and NW.
    The local trains and some buses also take bikes, so if you want to get slightly farther afield one day, maybe to get close enough to ride the Stelvio, that is also possible if you arrange yourself.

    Worth checking the status of the high roads in May. many of the high French passes don't open until the start of June and in 2013 this was justified.

    For example.mid-May here:
    Opening times - Grossglockner High Alpine Road
    Beginning of May until 15 June: 6 am - 8 pm
    16 June until 15 September: 5 am - 9.3 pm
    16 September until end of October/beginning of November: 6 am - 7.30 pm
  • Another option would be to check out the well established walking company Colletts mountain Holidays.
    http://www.colletts.co.uk/road-cycling- ... dolomites/

    They have been offering walking holidays there for around 15 years so really know the area and this summer they are now offering days rides from a central location 5 days a week. You dont have to commit to any of the days oryou can do all five days, with no extra cost. You also have the flexibilty to arrive and leave the resort anyday meaning you could go for a cheeky weekend cycling in ''proper mountains'':)

    Costs wise checkout the website or give them an email, but they offer airport transfers from Venice Marco polo or Treviso for £75 return including bikes I believe, or you can rent one in one of 3 or 4 bike shops in resort.

    The Bike days range from 'easy to hard'
    The easy rides ranging from 20km to around 40 the hard days including cycling the Maratona dles dolomiti circuit at around 130km with over 4000m height gain. With lots inbetween obviously.

    This is the first summer so i expect it will be fairly quiet meaning vary small groups therefore lots of flexibility with the routes on offer.

    I have attached a link below.

    George
    http://www.colletts.co.uk/road-cycling- ... dolomites/
  • knedlicky
    knedlicky Posts: 3,097
    Navrig2 wrote:
    knedlicky wrote:
    I don’t know what your idea of cheap is, and I haven’t done this myself, but for about £230 plus meals, you could have 3 days/4 nights riding the Austrian Alps …

    Fly to Innsbrück with Easyjet ......
    Worth checking the status of the high roads in May. many of the high French passes don't open until the start of June and in 2013 this was justified.

    For example.mid-May here:
    Opening times - Grossglockner High Alpine Road
    Beginning of May until 15 June: 6 am - 8 pm
    16 June until 15 September: 5 am - 9.30 pm
    16 September until end of October/beginning of November: 6 am - 7.30 pm
    While you're right about the late opening of some of the Alpine passes in France, the times of opening which you list for the Grossglockner are only really applicable to motor vehicles during the summer; they are the times when the toll booths are open.
    Although cyclists are not subject to tolls and can go through a closed barrier, it would, of course, be foolish for any to start on the ascent late in the day. Coming down as dusk approaches, and maybe after the toll booths have closed but it's not yet dark, can actually be a real pleasure, because there will then be practically no vehicular traffic.
    The Grossglockner normally opens, at the latest, at the beginning of May. Last year it was open as from the last weekend of April, in 2013 it opened on 1 May. And in 2014, it closed the last weekend of October.

    Typically a couple of other passes in the same area open at the beginning of May too, but all others in Austria (except the Timmelsjoch) are normally open by the beginning of April. The Timmelsjoch is usually the last to open, sometime in the first half of June.

    In any case, the Grossglockner is really too far away to consider riding if one is based in Innsbrück, as per my suggestion – about 100 km to a starting point for a tour including the Felbertauerntunnel and the Grossglockner.