This is not a comprehensive list of bicycle touring companies .
It's biased towards my own preferences which some might
call those of a "serious cyclist" and other less generous folks might call
elitist. Oh well. I'm not saying there's a right or wrong way to take a bike
vacation - only what I am looking for personally. If your desires for a bike
vacation are similar to mine then you will find these companies of interest.
(If you happen to know of other companies that meet these criteria please
What I'm looking for in a bicycle touring company:
Miscellaneous information about some New England climbs. Not at all
comprehensive, mostly just from my own knowledge. If you happen to know of other
sites that would fit into this list please
- Tours in Italy and France
- Road riding tours (as opposed to mountain biking) although some of these
companies offer both
- English speaking staff
- Spending as much time in the mountains as possible rather than avoiding them
- Routes of 50 to 100 miles per day
List of bicycle touring companies:
An organized tour with a company is only one way to go. Another option is to
spend a single block of time at one place and take loop rides out of that locale
every day. The places in this list specialize in providing this kind of bike
vacation. The criteria are the same as for the list of
bicycle touring companies
so the same caveats apply. (If you happen to know of other places that meet these criteria
please email me.)
This is a list of
miscellaneous sites with trip reports, advice, information about cols, etc.
Again it's mostly France and Italy. If you happen to know of other sites that
would fit into this list please
- Pyreneen Pursuits A small guest house in the
Ariège department of the central Pyrénées in France. Located in the town of
Massat (well actually Biert but Massat is easier to find on the map) about
halfway between the small cities of St. Girons and Tarascon-sur-Ariège on the
D618. The proprietors are Nick and Jan Flanagan, expatriots from the UK. What
can I say. I have never been happier with a choice of a place to stay while
cycling than I was with Pyreneen Pursuits. I couldn't recommend it enough.
- Italian Cycling Center A cycling camp located in
a small town called Borso del Grappa which is just east of Bassano del
Grappa. The ICC is situated where the flats meet the mountains affording riding
of all levels and on all terrain. Borso del Grappa sits at the base of the
monster 27 km. climb of the Monte Grappa yet the riding to the south is pan
flat. The proprietor, George Pohl, is knowledgable about Italian history, art,
music and culture in general.
- Velo Veneto Literally 7 km. down the road from
the ICC in Castelcucco. I can't comment further since I've never stayed there.
- VéloSport Vacations They offer a spring
training camp in addition to their guided tours. I can't comment further since
I've never stayed there.
OK. I admit it. I'm a nut for maps. The maps that I'm familiar with for France
and Italy that are of use to cyclists (and hikers in some cases) follow. I list
them in increasing order of scale. The maps with the higher scale have the
advantage of being more detailed but the disadvantage of not covering as large
areas. In general maps of 1:100,000 or 1:200,000 seem to be best for cycling.
They cover large enough areas so that they will almost always allow you to
travel with only one map in your pocket where the more detailed maps might
require two or even three maps. Who wants to ride with three maps taking up
valuable pocket real estate? The more detailed maps do help with advance trip
planning. You can use them to scope out possible back roads that aren't on the
less detailed maps or to help you get through a city without having the full
city map. They are also good for hiking. I have at least one of each of the map
types listed here and they've all been useful.
- Gerry Soto's Cycling Web Page
At this site Gerry Soto writes up his numerous cycling trips many of which are
to France and Italy. Among other things there's a switchback-by-switchback
account of his
ride up l'Alpe d'Huez.
Carlos Nates' Cycling Page
This sight has pointers to climb profiles some of the classic climbs of the TdF. A few in Spain
(including the Angirlu) and Italy too.
Cols in Frankrijk
This site (in Dutch) has tabular information on many cols in France, the
Netherlands and Belgium.
This site (in English) has writeups with photos, links and tabular information
on many cols in Europe.
Trento Bike Pages
Lots of info about European bike touring in English. Tour write ups. Articles. Links.
Bruce Hildenbrand's Guide to Bicycle Touring in Europe
Pointed to by the Trento bike pages but worth calling out on its own for
American cyclists planning a bike vacation to Europe.
l'Alpe d'Huez Home Page
In English and French. The site includes a clickable, very detailed
map of the village.
For those interested in seeing the exact route that the Tour de France stage
finish takes through the village. Click
From their mission statement, "Our policy is to be a bank of information for
anyone interested in the Pyrenees and Cycling.".
KOM Cycling Home Page
Tabular info in English on paved road climbs all around the world (not just
western Europe). If you're interested in riding the mountains of France and
Italy I recommend that you subscribe to the KOM Cycling discussion group. See
the "Discussion Group" tab for more information.
Claudio Montefusco's Home Page
In Spanish. Tons of cycling links. For tabular info on climbs in Spain, Italy,
France, Austria and Switzerland click
The Mountain Site
Click on a region (eg. Northern Alps) or a country and see elevation profiles
and road maps for climbs therein. Very useful! Check out the link for La
Marmotte. (La Marmotte is one of the most popular
riding over the Croix de Fer, Télégraphe/Galibier and ending with the climb to
Francis & Sheila's Virtual Alps
The definative picture guide of cycle touring in the Alps. Consisting mainly of
photos (not a lot of text) from trips taken by the Francis & Sheila on their
numerous trips to the Alps. It seems they've been just about everywhere.
The Atlas de Cols guides are a series of books which give information of
interest to cyclists about climbs in France. Each guide covers all the climbs in
a particular area. There are three for the Alps and four for the Pyrénées and
other areas like the Massif Central are also covered in other books. The books
are in French but as much of the information is in graphic form they are still
useful for non-French speakers. For each climb the following information is
- Michelin Regional Road Maps (1:200,000, France)
The Michelin 1:200,000 maps of France, commonly refered to as the Michelin
yellow maps, are the single most useful maps for cycle touring in France. They have
sufficient detail for cycling and yet cover a wide enough area so that you only
need to travel with one map. Their most uniquely useful feature for cyclists are
the gradient indicators which appear on prolonged grades. To indicate the grade
one to three angle
brackets (>) are used. The bracket(s) point in the uphill direction. One bracket
indicates a gradient of 5 - 9 %, two a gradient of 9 - 13% and 3 a gradient in
excess of 13%. Cols are indicated with >.< and the elevation. Additionally
elevation points are given plentifully at various points. There are also the
usual tourist map nicities like icons for ruins, castles, scenic vistas, etc.
All in all if you had to only buy from one set of maps for your trip to France
the Michelin yellow maps are the way to go.
- Kümmerly+Frey Italian Regional Maps (1:200,000, Touring Club Italiano)
These are the functional equivalent of the Michelin yellow maps. They are at
the same scale and also have the angle bracket percent gradient indicators. They
are a must for cycle touring in Italy.
- IGN Serie Verte (1:100,000, France)
These are road/topo maps with contour lines. They don't have as many
distance indicators as the Michelin yellows and don't have the gradient
indicators but they are nice for a little more detail in a particular area.
- Didier Richard Maps (1:50,000, France)
These are mostly for hikers but again the increased scale might be of use
for route planning.
- IGN Serie Bleu (1:25,000, France)
Same comments as for the Didier Richard maps.
You can buy the Atlas de Cols guides through the
site or from
Au Vieux Campeur.
- State of the road
- Time period in which the climb is typically open, that is, free of snow
- Scenic beauty rating from one to three stars
- A brief text description of the climb
- A detailed itinerary of the climb from the base to the top. Except for
one-way climbs this includes a separate itinerary for each approach to the
climb. Many climbs have three itineraries like the Col du Mollard.
Map The maps seem to be
black and white copies of the yellow Michelin maps with dark blue highlighter on
Sites where you can find maps and guides of use in bicycle touring in Europe
(er um, France and Italy):
In France there are many organized, supported group rides called "randonées". As
a rule they are open to anyone providing you have either of the following:
At this site (in French) you can find information on many publications about
cycling (road and off-road) in the mountains of France including information on
Les Atlas de Cols.
There are also articles with titles like, "Pédalier à 2 ou 3
plateaux ?" or "Riding with 2 or 3 chain rings?".
Au Vieux Campeur sells Les Atlas de Cols and they accept credit card
orders which is nice for foreigners. This is where I bought mine. I emailed them
(See their web page for the email address) with the order.
The Globe Corner Bookstore has a very well layed out web site. Go to
the home page and click on "Travel the world in search of books and maps...". At
the top of the page you'll see an alphabetized list like "[A] [B] [C] ", etc.
Click on a letter for maps and titles for that letter. Eg. click on "I" and
search through and you'll find the pointer to the page for IGN Serie Verte. For
each of the map types they have
- a map sample to view
- a list of maps in the series
- an index that shows the patchwork of maps superimposed over the entire
mapped region so you know which map(s) you need
- prices and all the info you need to buy on line.
At last check GCB had these maps (among jillions of others):
- Kümmerly+Frey Italian Regional Maps
- Michelin Regional Road Maps
- IGN Serie Verte
sells a variety of maps of potential interest to the cycle tourist.
They guys have, among other things, the Didier Richard maps.
Miscellaneous points about randonées:
- a racing license in your home country
- a signed certificate from your doctor stating that you are fit to ride
a bike for long distances over strenuous terrain.
- These events vary in levels of support and the number of riders as with similar
rides in the states.
- Many of the rides provide timing services and awards and the results are put
into the big cycling magazines. One common practice is to award riders with
either a gold, silver or bronze medal based on their age, sex and finishing
- Many of the rides offer short and long courses. Some offer short, medium and
- The events aren't offically races but the more popular ones are treated as such
by many folks. Evidently there is becoming a sub-class of quasi-professional
racers who dominate these events causing some rightful resentment on the part of
joe-blow-riders-with-day-jobs-and-families. I have even heard rumors of doping
among these quasi-professional riders. This being said, these events are still by
and for cycle tourists so don't be afraid to enter one just because you aren't a
racer. It's mostly non-racers that do these I think.
- In Italy these rides are called Gran Fondos (Gran Fondi ? ;^) ). As far as I know
the same general rules apply.
List of pointers for randonée/gran fondo information...
- Sport Communication At this site (in French) you can
find information on various French Randonéees.
- Calendari Granfondo At this site (in Italian) you can
find information on various Italian Granfondos.
- SportPro At this site (in Italian) you can
find information on various Italian Granfondos.
- Gran Fondo Campagnolo At this site (in Italian
and English) you can find information on the Gran Fondo Campagnolo which is one
of the biggies. The "percorso Gran Fondo" (long course) hits the Passo Manghen,
Passo Rolle and the Passo Croce D'Aune for a total of just over 200km. Passo
Croce D'Aune is where Tulio Campagnolo had difficulties with a wheel change in a
race in cold weather and had the revelation for the invention of the quick
- Maratona dles Dolomites
A very popular Gran Fondo in the Dolomites of Northern Italy the Maratona dles
Dolomites long course for 2000 took in the Passo Campolongo, Passo Pordoi, Passo
Sella, Passo Gardena, Passo Campolongo, Passo Giau and Passo Falzarego/Valparola
over a total distance of 147 km. and 4345 m. of climbing. The ride starts and
ends in Corvara. Although I've never ridden this event I've been over many of
these roads and can say this one must be absolutely gorgeous.
This site gives you the choice of Italian, French, German or English.
List of pointers to sites I have found useful for researching travel and
This site (in seven languages the last time I looked) has a really neat tool
that lets you enter a starting and ending city and gives you a driving route
between the too comprised of an intinerary in text and a pointer to a map. It
allows you to enter the type of car you're driving and estimated fuel cost. For
France it will also give you the tolls you'll pay on the freeways.
Logis-de-France Hotels List
The Logis-de-France is an association of French hotels. I've found the ones
I've stayed at to be nice places and most are inexpensive.
- Mt. Washington
Information for anyone interested in climbing this incredibly