The countryside surrounding Mont Ventoux offers world class cycling. The Drome, Vaucluse and Luberon départements of the région Provence Alps Côte d’Azur are laced with 1000′s of kilometers of quiet back roads that are well paved and dotted with villages for café breaks. We often spend the entire day on the bike exploring the plateau of the Luberon, the Gorge de la Nesque and the climbs through the pre-Alps in the Baronnies – a seldom explored, but stunning road biking area. Mont Ventoux offers a hors catégorie (beyond classification, in cycle racing parlance) climb and a thrilling descent.
Comfortable lodging and great french cooking in a large house with two kitchens, grounds and a pool offer a relaxed environment to cycle from and look forward to returning to at the end of the day.
Here is a great film clip of our descent of Mont Ventoux on May 12!
Cycling destinations don’t get much better than this north west region of Italy. The food and wine culture is laid back, yet sophisticated. The people are friendly and inviting. The roads that lead out of the Tanaro river valley (Home to the cities of Bra, Alba and Asti) quietly wend their way up through the famed vineyard towns of Barolo, Barberesco and Diano d’Alba deep into the Alta Langhe. Wine vineyards transition to groves of hazelnuts – Alba being the home of Nutella – and one seldom sees a car. The road surfaces are smooth and the climbs gentle, but all there. Passing cyclists greet you with an enthusiastic “Ciao!”
After an hour we’ve climbed 1,800 feet without realizing it. The ridge roads continue on through peaceful town after town. You can really clock endless, rewarding miles here.
Time spent off the bike is equally pleasurable. Whether visiting the museums and architectural gems of Piedmont’s capitol city, Turin, or exploring the original outpost of the food pantheon Eataly with it’s numerous food stations highlighting the regions pasta, baking, fish and produce. Our lodging in a warm and inviting agriturismo is home away from home. Afternoon’s are spent exploring the old city center of Alba. An evening glass of Barolo accompanyed by a plate of regional cheeses and salumi at the bar in the town square cap it off. Contact us to begin discussing the possibilities! email@example.com
Come join us for a week of great cycling throughout Provence and the Southern Alps.
We begin riding in the end of April. Seven days, Six nights – $2,800. All meals and a carbon fiber race bike included. Our weeks are designed around your riding interests, not a set itinerary. We are here to plan with you, share routes and ideas to make your cycling trip memorable. We will meet your flight in Marseille, or TGV in Avignon. Contact us to begin discussing the possibilities! firstname.lastname@example.org
We met our match with an incredible tour from the Romanche river valley to the Arc river valley and back in the heart of the French Alps. If we had topped it off with a climb up Alpe d’Huez at the end we would have completed the route of the famed French cyclo-sportive event, La Marmotte. 108 miles over the cols Croix de Fer, Télégraphe and Galibier. We completed 103 of those miles and 13,700 feet of climbing in just over nine hours. Not a bad days work and thoroughly exhausting!
Cycling through the north of Italy gave us a chance to sample the food, wine and culture of the Langhe region. Barolo, La Morra, Monforte D’Alba, Serralunga and Barbaresco are just a few of the hill towns that we pass through. There are endless, well paved roads that provide plenty of climbing for those intent on creating an appetite for the amazing food this region has to offer. One can make a day of cycling from the relative low country of these towns, up into the Alta Langhe where the agriculture changes from grapes to hazelnuts. The home of ubiquitous Nutella is not far away.
We were fortunate to be here during the wine harvest and white truffle season – Eggs with truffles, wood fired pizza with truffles all washed down with stunning Barolos. Our host, Raffaella, runs a lovely, comfortable agriturismo at the base of Barolo’s famous vineyard hillside – Cannubi.
After a quick stop at Assos’s factory store in Lugano to shop for a few cold weather pieces, we headed up across Lago di Como on a small ferry with Bormio our end of the season destination for riding over the classic Italian passes of the Giro d’Italia: Gavia, Stelvio & Mortirolo. The food here is hearty and delicious mountain fare: Polentas, stews, buckwheat pastas and all variety of mountain cheeses. The wines are predominantly from the Nebbiolo grape of the Valtelinna which unfolds below Bormio. They can be sublime as they age. Their names tell of the challenges of growing grapes at this latitude: Inferno, Sforzato & Grumello. While the days were blue, they were chilly, so we were in early winter cycling clothing. The high point comes at the end of the ride when we take to the saunas and thermal baths of Bormio’s three famous spas – one here dates back to Roman times. Contact us to discuss a custom tour to this amazing cycling region! email@example.com
The wine harvest is underway in the Rhône valley as we cycle past vineyards being picked and the heady scent of grapes being crushed and starting their primary fermentation. The weather has been gorgeous—dry, seventy degrees during the day—ideal for cycling and cool nights for restful sleeping. Our weekly rides always include a memorable day spent climbing Mont Ventoux. Contact us to discuss a trip! firstname.lastname@example.org
Summer seems finally here with Rhône valley in the upper eighties, but climbing Mt Ventoux the air progressively cools – here are the final switchbacks to the summit…
We are spending the month of August back in Vermont (riding “The Gaps” of The Green Mountains to stay in shape for the hills of Europe!) to allow the French, as well as the Dutch, British and the rest of northern Europe their month’s vacation in Provence. Our market town, Vaison la Romaine, will take an hour to traverse – normally a five minute trip, and you better look both ways when you reach for that last baguette at the Boulangerie, lest you are hip-checked out of the way by a very chic woman (Parisian, non?).
September will arrive before long, and the roads and cafés will be blissfully peaceful and a smile of relief will have returned to the faces of the locals. September and October are ideal times to ride in Southern France: warm, sunny days and cool nights. There is great summer produce from which to make delicious Provençal tomato tarts and zucchini risottos. Fall airfares have dropped to around $850, and the Euro has not been this low in years. Contact us to discuss a trip email@example.com
It was a beautiful day to climb the Mortirolo. We descended from Bormio on the old strada statali 38 heading for Tirano, now replaced by a series of tunnels (not for cyclists). Virtually carless now, except for the occasional local passing us, it was strange to ride this semi abandoned road that twenty years ago was THE only way up to Bormio. At Mazza di Valtellina we began the climb. It is more a narrow, paved path than a road. As you leave the village of Mazza, two striped steel bars are set into the road to limit the width of vehicles trying to go up. It is clearly cyclist territory, as few try to pass when you are doing your work. The road wends up through steep hay fields being cut by hand scythe, as it is too steep for machinery. The smell of fresh cut grass intermingles with the cool scent of pine and moss as you alternate between forest and farmland. One spends considerable time out of the saddle as the pitch averages 10.5% , but many sections are prolonged at 18%.
Upon reaching the summit, we decided to ride down to Ponte di Legno and pick up the southern side of the Passo di Gavia for the ride back to Bormio.
The cycling in France has been beautiful this summer. We were in the Pyrenees before the Tour de France arrived and shuttled over to the Alps after they left – the roads covered with cycling grafitti encouraging and thanking many of the riders for their extraordinary effort. We finished up our last summer tour with a 103 mile ride over the cols Croix de Fer, Télégraphe and Galibier. We are getting ready for several great weeks of riding coming up this Fall, and airfares and the Euro have been dropping – making this an ideal time to break away and come join us for an incredible week of riding, food and camaraderie. Contact me to discuss itinerary possibilities firstname.lastname@example.org