Ride Across the French Pyrenees - Coast to Coast - and Back !
1000 miles, 100'000 ft climbing, 12 days riding + 2 rest days.
August 27th to September 11th - 2017. Contact me about signing up
First of all, I cannot begin without saying THANK YOU SO MUCH to our guide and friend Allan for this wonderful journey ! Thanks for putting together such a fabulous adventure on two wheels, free of all hassles, simply riding, appreciating and having fun ! I felt privileged for being a part of the group and I'll cherish amazing memories ! It was my first trip in the Pyrenees, no need to mention the great pleasure I had riding such beautiful roads through amazing sceneries ! It felt like being constantly in a postal card and traveling on my bike made the roadie in me so happy ! Also, having Steve our van guy (what a great guy! ) in a close proximity was so cool and we always had what we needed. Riding so many kilometers day after day with so much climbing was a first for me as well. What a great feeling at the end of the day to have done all those cols, such a high ! Joining the gang afterwards to talk about our day around a delicious meal and good wine, "la belle vie quoi !" It was such a pleasure to share my passion with such nice people who are also fans of the bike. If I resume, my advice is pretty simple, every person passionate about cycling should live such a trip at least once in his life ! I'm already thinking about my next trip !
Guy Pineault, Quebec, Canada. Attended the trip in 2013.
Guy summits the Col du Tourmalet, in first place as usual and deservedly so. The rest of us riders battled for second.
The tour was an outstanding experience for me; I'll do it again if I have the opportunity. It not just the great cycling, awesome climbs and wonderful scenery. Allan's thoughtful planning and his experience is evident everywhere from smaller details like daily routine, ride food, choice of routes and hotels, to the macro level which strings 12 riding days and 2 rest days together into a coherent and satisfying whole. I've returned from the tour with great memories to last a lifetime and the inner strength that comes from accepting and completing a significant challenge. Actually, at random times I find myself recalling some moment or place from the tour and I just have to smile. So, thanks for the memories...
Richard Watson, Australia. Attended the trip in 2016.
Richard W. riding through the Pyrenees foothills on the way to the Mediterranean coast.
I will take this opportunity to compliment you on a a great "event" as this was not just a "tour". I would not change a thing. Sure day 2 was long and hot, and the mountains had some cold wet days (1 rainy day and several cold days), but covering over 1,000 miles and 112,000 ft, most of it in the mountains, any seasoned cyclist has to expect variable riding conditions and adapts and overcomes as needed. The climbing was challenging and stellar, even for my Colorado Rockies seasoned legs, but that is what attracted me to the ride, along with the variable terrain, long days in the saddle, the French cycling culture, and of course the food. There is perhaps no better place to be than in France when confronted with the need to replace 5-6,000 calories per day. The backroads provided wonderful riding, with little to no traffic, great scenery, and of course, more great climbing. The short Spain segment was great. Also, thanks for the introduction to Marcel. That was a highlight. Steve also did a great job on the ride support..right down to the pre-ride eyeglass cleaning! Tell him hello for me. I hope to return in the future.
Christopher Dacey, Boulder, Colorado. Attended the trip in 2015.
Chris D. riding through the Pyrenees foothills on the way to the Mediterranean coast.
Allan, I just want to say the trip was everything you said it would be. From the time you all took over until we were dropped off, everything was first class. The hotels and meals were solid. The riding was phenomenal. I knew what to expect since I have ridden in France before, but I was still blown away by the quality of the riding and just how quiet and off the beaten path we were. If you are looking for a challenging ride this is the tour to do. After a few days to unwind and reflect I would definitely do the tour again if you flip the route. Outside of that cheeky attack you made on us the last day I have nothing to complain about! Take care.
Bob Boone, Hawaii. Attended the trip in 2014
Bob, on the far left, enjoys a post ride beer with Joyce and Jeff.
Any one of the stages in this tour would have been memorable, but to put them all together in a single tour was epic. It was without a doubt the most physically and mentally challenging cycling I've ever done on a bike. It was evident from the very beginning that this tour was put together by someone who understands what it means to be an avid cyclist. Every day there was something special about the route. And the support was second to none..the hotels, the maps, the food, the van support....it was all spot on. There are just too many memories to recount, but how cool it was to have locals call out "bon courage" as I passed by on my way up yet another amazing Col or to stop at the top of the Peyresourde for some honey crepes! Particularly special to me was the camaraderie among everyone in our group. Sitting down together every night at dinner and sharing the adventures of the day holds as many fond memories for me as the riding itself. The Pyrenees now hold a special meaning for me that I will never forget. Thank you for everything.
Carol Bult, Seal Harbor, Maine. Attended the trip in 2013.
Carol surveys the final descent into St. Lary Soulon from the top of the Col d'Azet, the final climb of the 5 col day, 98 miles and 14000 ft for the day. Oh Yeah!!
In one word ....Priceless! This tour far surpassed my expectations. The routes not only exposed us to the majestic and fierce climbs of the Pyrenees, we were also able enjoy the beauty and culture of the different regions. A must do for any serious cyclist who wants to experience all of the French Pyrenees.
Roger Gallant, Toronto, Canada. Attended the trip in 2014 along with his wife Stephanie - pictured below.
Roger enjoys some food and an ice cold beer at the end of stage 4 - 130 miles.
Magnifique! Epic! Trip of a lifetime! With every twist and turn on supreme roads; climbs and descents; views from the top of each Col after having worked hard to reach the summit; superb support from Allan and Jeff along the way, the Journey Across the Pyrenees far surpassed what we anticipated and expected. Memories to last a lifetime, although we will be back to refresh the mind and relive the experience again! You have put together a phenomenal experience Allan - your passion for cycling combined with the Pyrenees and providing the group the opportunity to experience this is outstanding. Thank you Allan for a wonderful trip.
Stephanie Gallant, Toronto, Canada. Attended the trip in 2014 along with her husband Roger - seen above.
Stephanie enjoys meeting French Basque and retired pro cyclist Marcel Queheille - TDF stage winner in 1957, and participant in the 1958, 60 and 61 tours.
Think about the perfect cycling trip. If it includes beautiful scenery, smooth, little trafficked roads, great food, cool towns, and nothing to worry about (except getting up some serious vertical); well then this is it. All you have to do when you wake up is ride your bike and eat. It doesn’t get any better then that. Allan makes it all happen. Awesome support, knowledge of the country and language, and a love for life. This trip will provide memories forever. My only recommendation is to train before you go; this trip is not for the casual rider. This trip will definitely challenge you, but isn’t that what you would expect of the Pyrenees ! Bottom line, it's a hell a trip. Any man or woman who does it will remember it as one of the great highlights and accomplishments of their life. The mountains made it a worthy challenge, and the group of riders make it fun.
Charles Varela, Mountain View, Arkansas. Attended the trip four times, 2007, 2009, 2011, and 2013.
Charles ( aka - Barnacle - on the left ) and Ron, top of Col d'Azet, day 5 of riding - preparing for the next "French attack!"
Be careful what you ask for as a cyclist... This trip has it all, steep "give it all you got" climbs to thrilling roller coaster descents, and countless miles through the most beautiful countryside roads imaginable. After each day's long ride, it was a comfort to know that Allan had everything taken care of for us. We had great accommodations, hot showers and wonderful meals. Between Allan and Steve (our awesome van support driver/friend) they had everything covered, so that all we had to was ride. I only wish the trip didn't end.
Rob Bower, Tiburon, California. Attended the trip in 2015.
Rob gives a friendly wave to the camera as he makes his way on stage 4, 128 miles to the mediterranean.
Allan, I've made a number of trips to Europe for cycling and non-cycling vacations. There are so many places to see and explore. Your Pyrenean trip is the only one I've repeated and I look forward to doing it yet again.
Joe Ruff, Georgia. Attended the trip twice, in 2011 and 2014.
Joe, on the right, rides up the Col d'Aspin with Oral.
I wanted to say thank you again for organizing such a great tour. It was exactly what I hoped it would be. The route was ideal - every day was interesting, challenging and always ended at a great, welcoming local hotel with great food and its own history and charm. I wanted a tour that was 95% about riding and you and Steve provided exactly that. I only had to show up and ride and that's what I did! I never once had to worry about hotels or food or making change in French. You managed it all seamlessly while we clients rode some of the best cycling roads in the world. I'm sure it's not easy herding ten people back and forth across the Pyrenees but you guys did it with style. Chapeau!
Alan Bradley, Colorado. Attended the trip in 2015 and 2016.
Alan almost finished with stage 4, 128 miles, and still smiling.
Not to be believed! When this trip was first planned I thought to myself, are you crazy? 12 days of riding, 7000-8000 feet per day of climbing? The more I thought about it the more I wanted to do it, and so I did. What an amazing trip. As I have said to everyone, it was everything I expected and much, much more.
The Pyrenees were amazing and majestic. It was so cool to see how the environment changed from the Western end, being more humid, to the Mediterranean side which was dryer and hot, but all beautiful!
Having a sag van made all of the difference in the world. All of our food, drinks, lunch, snacks, and bicycle repair items were all readily available and made starting the day simple.
The trip was incredibly well planned by Allan, from the day to day mileage and climbing estimates, to the hotels we cycled right into each day, and the great dinners we had in the evenings.
Thank god for Allan, for being French and speaking French, which made for a fluid sweet trip across the Pyrenees and back.
Jeff Dux, San Francisco, California. Attended the trip 4 times 2006, 2010, 2011 and 2014.
Jeff Dux, day 8, almost out of the Pyrenees.
This is one really hard ride, but well worth the effort. The cycling in the Pyrenees is outstanding, the scenery beautiful and interesting, and Allan has a tremendous knowledge of the area so the route itself is terrific. Van support is the best I have experienced; Allan has clearly thought through what he would want as a rider and incorporated that wish list into the operation. Being able to ride with such a small group is, again, an opportunity unique to this trip. I highly recommend it to anyone willing to take on the challenge and looking for something very special in a group tour. Allan, thank you for putting this together and making it happen. I know it is a lot of work, I'm just glad you are willing to do it.
Geoff Stein, Boston, Mass. Attended the trip in 2011.
Geoff cresting the Col d'Aspin on an epic day with fabulous weather.
This trip was a life changer ... I can't put into words the emotions and exuberance this trip brought about. Culture, food, geography, epic climbs, camaraderie, history, all too much to take in ...you did a wonderful job Allan. Thank you
Brian Davis, Santa Rosa, California. Attended the trip in 2013.
Brian, somewhere in the back-roads of the Pyrenees mountains, 2013.
Ride the Pyrenees 2012…I came to ride hard and be challenged by the legendary climbs of the Pyrenees and that is exactly what this tour delivered. Allan has the tour so dialled in that the only major decision I had to make each day was which dessert I should have at the end of every meal. Now that is a perfect bicycle tour vacation!
Lynda A, Maryland. Attended the trip in 2012.
Lynda near the summit of the Col du Tourmalet
Thanks for a great trip! You’ve cooked up a quite a recipe for us to experience a resounding success in “Conquering the Pyrenees". The ingredients included:
Be well my friend,
Richard Anderson, Santa Rosa CA. Attended the trip in 2014.
Richard tops the Col d'Agnes on the 7th stage of the tour.
I'll see if I can write something that captures the magic of your tour. It was an amazing 2 weeks. I doubt that anything else I ever do will match or top it. If your Tour was any other time of the year (conflicts with work), I would sign up again in a second! It was the greatest experience EVER!
Karen Steel, Novato, California. Attended the trip in 2015.
Karen early in the day on the 4th stage, at about mile 15 ... of 128 miles for the day.
Great trip, and I loved it just as much the 2nd time ! I wish I started in better shape, but still a great time, and the French country side is always a pleasure to be in and riding thru it is always special.......wonder group this time..........thank you for everything and thank you to all for making it such a great trip.
Dermot Connolly, Puerto Rico. Attended the trip in 2009 and 2013.
Dermot makes a new friend at the top of the Col d'Aubisque.
What a ride! When my good mate David suggested this trip to our group of riders in Melbourne, Australia a few years back, we all said he’d gone mad. That kind of ride is for pro’s and young blokes we said. I’m 52, and this year the timing and my own fitness levels were good, so when David again raised the subject of riding across France (twice) I said pourquoi pas?! I’ve ridden in France on two previous occasions, once supported, once without. Having support makes things so much easier, and Allan and Steve had all things covered. The picnic lunch in the middle of nowhere or at the top of a mountain each day was always a highlight. This trip is not about being a tourist in France. It’s about riding some back roads and some big hills in the beautiful countryside that France has to offer, with the most amazing views you will ever be lucky enough to enjoy on two wheels. This trip was one of the best, leave all worries aside, you just have to ride, and Allan does the rest.
Anthony Jones, Australia. Attended the tour in 2015.
Anthony at the top of the Col d'Aubisque ... only 90 miles left in the day's stage!!
I enjoyed every moment of the ride through the Pyrenean foothills and back over the cols from sea to sea to sea. Each day was challenging, but the excellent roads, scenery, and group camaraderie both on the road and at the stopovers made it all seem like a magical cycling dream. Hotels were all family-run, quiet and comfortable; food was generous both at stopovers and on the road. The planning and support of the ride were well organized and thought-out, with no corner-cutting anywhere. Allan and his assistant Steve did a good job of supporting several differently-paced groups of riders with ease and good humour. For anyone who is confident that they can “go the distance”, I wholeheartedly recommend this ride.
Except for those darn deserts that I kept eating way too much of, I had a great time. Already I'm thinking of what next year's cycling adventure will be. Among all the Tours out there, I doubt there's another ride that will meet the standards of the one we just did; I'm spoiled now.
Mark Homrighaus, Berkeley, California. Attended the ride in 2013.
Mark - on the left - and Charles and Pat, ready for the descent down the west side of the Col du Tourmalet.
Allan, I wanted to Thank You for an amazing tour ! The tour lived up to all my expectations and more. From the daily routes that took us over some of the most famous climbs in the world, to the support vehicle being there when it was needed, was spot on. I will never forget the lunches with fresh baguettes and cold cuts, They hit the spot!! I would recommend this ride to any of my serious cycling friends any day, and you can count on me coming back. Thank you again for the most amazing vacation I have ever had !!!
Pat Krueger, Santa Rosa, CA. Attended the trip in 2013.
Pat all smiles all the time.
Allan leads a really fun ride. Allan and Jeff, Allan’s sidekick, always managed to provide excellent support to all of us. I’ve ridden on about a dozen multi-day cycling trips, and this was one of the more epic. True to the advertising, there is a minimum of 1000 miles and 100,000’ of climbing, not including some optional riding on “rest days.” Allan always made fun conversation and dubbed the riders various names ranging from the Squirrel to the Barnacle. The fine raconteur that he was, Allan regaled us with stories from trips past, and ended our final dinner together with a toast “to the best group EVER!” Aside from their amusing personalities, Allan and Jeff made sure to accommodate the group’s wide range of eating preferences and riding habits.
At first I worried that there wouldn’t be enough food served at the restaurants. Allan knows the region, researches the area for appropriate hotels and restaurants, and establishes relationships with the owners of the hotels where we stay. Allan made sure that the restaurants kept the food coming. Everything was fresh, flavourful and satisfying, and there was always enough food!
Joyce Chang, Healdsburg, CA. Attended the trip in 2014.
Joyce, 2nd from the left, pals around with Roger, Bob and Stephanie before dinner.
Never thought I would say this but I sure wish I was doing this fucking insane trip again for the 3rd time.
Oral Powell, Jamaica. Attended the trip twice, 2009 and 2011.
Oral's comments about the trip captured on video.
Oral makes his way through the Pyrenees Basque mountains.
Thank you for a fabulous tour and experience of a lifetime. If I could have put my life's dreams for cycling, in a bucket, and have it flow out a thousand time better than I could have imagined in every way, then this would describe in a few words my testimonial of gratitude for this tour. Your tremendous planning and execution throughout the epic 1000 miles-100,000 feet of climbing on our daily routes, gave us beauty, challenges, an ongoing sense of safety, security, and support (by having near constant contact with Steve- "VAN GUY"), excitement, exhilaration, joy and finally awe on the bike. To know that each day, our hotels and meals were perfectly comfortable and delicious, allowed each of us to focus solely on our journey, knowing we were totally taken care of. While each of of us came to this tour with our own "bucket list" of cycling dreams, it was the group of riders and Steve, that you assembled, now held as teammates and friends, that brought the most joy to our journey. I know that for me, to see the faces and hear the cheers for each other along the way-smiling, struggling, chasing, or soloing off the front as one raced up, and up and up beyond our limits and dreams, was most special. Thank you for bringing my cycling dream to an incredible reality. Onward and upward until the next tour !
Lili Pew, Ellsworth, ME. Attended the trip in 2013
Later, after more reflection, "As I look back on 2013, The Pyrenees trip stands alone as best of the year, and more so, best experience of my life.... even more than the Olympics! Thank you a million times over and I can't wait to return for another year down the road."
From left to right, Steve, Lili, Carol, Mark. Day 11 of 12, and looking mighty stoked.
This was the perfect bike tour. It had the challenge of 20 plus passes in one of the most beautiful places on earth. The support van with Allan or Jeff there with food, drink and encouragement along the way we had nothing to worry about. The evening meals with Allan translating all the good choices was fun and I still lost weight. I will have great memories of this trip and hope to do it again.
Brian Purcell (Western State 100 record holder 1988), Santa Rosa, California. Attended the trip in 2012
Brian in the Basque country, 2012.
I have been riding and racing for 35 years, crossing the Pyrenees with Allan is the most fun I have ever had on the seat of a bike.
Kurt Buchwald, Malibu, California. Attended the trip in 2010 and 2013.
Kurt, on the right, along with Jeff climbing the Col d'Iraty.
This is a road trip of epic proportions! I had the sense of being on a pilgrimage, from Basque country to French Catalonia (from Atlantic to Mediterranean) and back again.
So many great memories that I couldn’t get my head around them all at the end of each day – overwhelming! Flashbacks after coming home: fountains in the quaint villages, livestock in the open pastures at elevation (including sheep herds spanning the road), the sound of cowbells out across the corniche traversing from the Soulor to the Aubisque , always mountains up ahead to cross. In the foothills there was even a river flowing through a natural tunnel in a limestone ridge – bizarre!
The food was great from seafood to country fare and I love that Basque sheep cheese and Basque cake! Lunch was a smorgasbord of goodies from the local markets. There was always a fine wine to complement the dinner.
The group size was perfect – I enjoyed the pace lines in the foothills but I also enjoyed riding alone sometimes in the mountains with time to take pictures.
Allan has the logistics dialled in with the van always there if you needed to put on or shed extra layers. The hotels were comfortable and always located in scenic towns with fine food. Language was never an issue since Allan is fluent. Using Garmin GPS made navigation a breeze with the device showing which way to go (except perhaps at those five way roundabouts!) and even telling you when you had arrived at your destination.
Allan took care of almost everything. Basically all we had to do was ride and ride we did – 1,000 miles and 100,000 feet elevation in twelve days was a real challenge. The rest days were perfectly spaced to allow recovery time when it was needed.
I started out without any sense of what was to be but finished with a feeling of coming home to Biarritz - like I had connected all the dots.
Doug Shrock, Santa Rosa, California. Attended the trip in 2012.
Doug climbing the Porte de Pailheres, 2012.
I started this Pyrenees ride without enough training miles or hours in my legs. Nonetheless, I completed this very difficult ride, in large part due to the excellent support of Allan and Jeff. The breakfasts and dinners and support on the road were very good. The accommodation were very good. This went a long way to getting me back to Biarritz. I also met several riders with whom I could share the travails of the road and many glasses of wine. It goes without saying that I had some navigational blips along the way and that riding in France was logistically challenging, but that is all part of the fun. Excellent ride and trip, I highly recommend it but come at your fittest.
Karl Schneider, Canada. Attended the ride in 2014
Karl at the top of the Tourmalet.
All you have to do is ride. How cool is that? This trip was a once-in-a-lifetime type experience, for me. I'm already trying to figure out how to make it a twice-in-a-lifetime deal. I can't thank Alan enough for making it happen. I could never pull something like this off on my own.
Alan did a phenomenal job of taking care of everything else, the routes, the lodging, the food, the sag wagon--so you don't have to load up with gear, food and water--the shuttle from and to the airport, and most importantly translating the menus to me, and my order to the wait person, so I didn't end up with breakfast for dinner.
The riding was the best I've ever done. The roads are immaculate, the scenery sublime, the sag wagon a lifesaver and the group was fun to ride and be with.
I've never worked so hard in my life, or smiled so much, especially during the 25 mile downhill. After each day, I kept thinking that the next day's ride couldn't possibly be as fun as the ride just completed, but it always was, for 12 days straight.
Additional comments from 2015: I had a great time again. The tour gets better each time, though a bit harder too, and the more times I go on the trip the more I want to go again.
Gordon Cavanaugh, Mill Valley, California. Attended the trip twice, 2006, 2010, and 2015.
Gordon, day 2 only, 10 more to go...nice!
Allan did a great job with the tour. The routes were really nice ....stayed mostly on the wonderful small 'white' roads on the Michelin maps. Hotels and food were just perfect too. He picked an awesome new town to stay in on the Mediterranean...what a highlight! And having van support throughout the day was an added bonus ...never been on a tour that had everything you needed pretty much at your fingertips all day long.
Jennie Phillips, California. Attended the trip 2007.
Jennie Phillips...and just a week before she did the PBP ! Day 2
Behind every photos lies a story, and my trip through the Pyrenees was one of endless stories, most of which I couldn’t capture on film. But oh! – The memories. It was a journey of incredible accents and descents, and riding tempo through the exquisitely lush countryside, dotted with lovely stone villages, church steeples, sheep and other livestock, and the ever present sound of cow bells. Green you say! It must rain a lot? But no, we had very few rain drops and plenty of sunshine. Late August and early September is the best, and so is this 14 day bike journey. I’ll be back.
Ron Sweet, Arizona. Attended the trip twice, 2007 and 2009.
Ron Sweet ( aka - Magellan ), day 1...and 11 more days of riding just like it!
I had an interest in the Pyrenees trip for about 3 years before I finally signed up. I was looking for something that would be a challenge beyond what I had ridden in the past and I wasn't disappointed. For example, I've always used a 53/39 crank set in the Rockies and got along just fine. I struggled some in the French Alps, but made it through OK with the 53/39. But Allen strongly advised getting compact gearing (50/34) for the Pyrenees. I finally decided to give that a try and was certainly glad I did. The first day of the tour, which was in the foothills of the Pyrenees leaving Biarritz, we encountered a 12-14% climb that went on for a mile. I was in the 34 tooth chain ring and a 27 tooth cog all the way up. Everyday presented plenty of opportunities for steep climbing which increased in the second week when we got into the high Pyrenees. The mileage of the daily rides was never the issue; it was always the gradient that was the major concern. Climbs in the Rockies are longer and at more altitude, but they never seem to get out of the 7% category. That grade was "recovery ride" material in the Pyrenees.
The Pyrenees ride won't tax you with lack of oxygen at high altitude, but it will test your ability to endure mile after mile of steep climbing with equally steep and technical descents. I loved it but at the end of every day I was very happy to see the hotel and have a cold beer. The accommodations were excellent, but not modern as you typically find in the US. Very French (quaint and comfortable). And the food was great! Also very French! Allen doesn't skimp when making these arrangements. In addition, the support on the road was fantastic. The group gets spread out during a 70 - 125 mile ride, but Allen does a great job of keeping track of everyone and makes sure everybody has food/water as needed.
If you decide to go, you won't regret it.
Mike Monear, Minnesota. Attended the trip in 2012.
Mike reaching the summit of the Col du Bagargui, Basque country.
Epic means larger than life and that’s how I would describe my two weeks visually and interpersonally on this trip. As a lifetime participant, coach and overall sports enthusiast, when asked if I might be interested in driving the support van for Allan’s annual Pyrenees cycling trip I jumped at the opportunity. Being a novice to the world of cycling I found the athleticism, commitment and endurance it takes to cycling second to none in the world of sports, in fact probably the most impressive mental and physical output I’ve experienced watching.
Aside from the actual riding aspect, one can only describe the daily stage rides through the mountains and small villages that Allan takes you on, frankly a must see to believe opportunity. The visual wonderment of just being in the French Pyrenees mountains would be a photographer’s play land day after day, turn after turn, climb after climb, with glimpses of Spain in the end to top it off… perhaps liken it to being in Yosemite or Yellowstone everyday but you are in France!
As an outsider to the sport of cycling, I would dream that riding these mountains, seeing the herds of livestock jaunting down village streets and mountain roads, cows posing for pictures at the top of the Cols, riding on some of the most historic stages of the Tour of France, and having crepes and coffee a top the Col de Peyresourde a must on your all-time cycling bucket list.
Alan’s professional experience with his fun and focus approach to the trip made everyone relaxed and eager for the days ride and task at hand. Also watching the rekindling of old friendships from previous repeat riders and the development of new ones including myself was and is a huge take away.
Steve Stewart, Corte Madera, California. Van driver 2013.
Steve (right) and Allan at the top of the col du Soudet, 2013.
Steve enjoying French disco at the top of the Tourmalet, with Dermot.
When I was looking for a cycling tour in the mountains of Europe, I came across Allen’s website. As I looked at the pictures from previous years and read about the ride, my heart started to race and my mouth was watering. I just knew this was the trip for me. Every year when I watched the Tour de France, I would dream of climbing those same mountains. I wanted a trip that would be challenging and epic. A trip that was more “meat” than “marshmallow”. Let me tell you, I was not disappointed. The trip was everything I had hoped for and more. Allen did a fantastic job organizing the trip and planning the route. He has the knowledge, skill, and temperament necessary for leading an elite group of riders across the Pyrenees. I was the only female out of 9 riders and the guys made me feel like I was “one of the guys”. I have done numerous multi day rides from riding across the USA with PAC Tour to riding across state with friends, and the Pyrenees trip is at the top of the list. I will always remember the nice people of France, the great food, wine, and scenery, and, the comradeship of our small group. I’m ready to do it again!
Kim Aldridge, Virginia Beach, VA. Attended the trip in 2010.
Kim Aldridge at the top of the Col du Tourmalet...perfect conditions, she is stoked!
Two of the most fun weeks in tight pants! Allan’s fluent French and attention to detail enabled the rest of our eight high maintenance group to just ride and enjoy some of the finest bicycling roads ever. The historic towns and memorable Tour de France climbs added to the mystique. Cars were almost non existent and not one pot hole in 1000 miles. A once in a lifetime experience and a true debt of thanks to Allan (and Kristal for pulling me up all the climbs).
Geoff Heinemann, California. Attended the trip, 2006.
Geoff Heinemann and Gordon pose for a shot atop the Col de Pailheres, day 7.
It's not just a bike ride! I didn't know what I was getting into signing up for a two week cycling trip in the Pyrenees with eight guys, but it was fantastic! Having Allen as our tour guide was priceless. His knowledge of France was vast, he was organized to a T, and his sense of humour was always intact..... a must for our group!
The scenery was amazing whether we were in the Pyrenees or pedaling back in the rolling hills through the vineyards. The ascents were long, but so were the descents, both rewarding! The food and wine was our reward at night for all our work during the day.
I fell in love with France and the people, and embraced their way of living.
Would I do this trip again??.... In a heart beat!
Kristal Snowman, Greenbrae, California. Attended the trip 2006.
Kristal with boyfriend Scott, day 9.
When I first heard about this trip, I thought that it would be kind of a lifetime dream to be able to ride some of the famous Pyrenees climbs that I have seen over the years watching the Tour De France on television. Allan put together an awesome trip, first crossing from west to east, coast to coast, across the mountains, climbing about 8,000 ft. per day. The return trip back to the west “across the flats” was challenging as well. One particular “flat” section encompassed three consecutive days of 100 miles with 6,000 feet of climbing each day. This 12-day trip was by far the most challenging and enjoyable cycling trip that I have ever dreamed of or done. By actually having the opportunity to ride these classic mountains, I have gained an entirely different level of respect for the tour riders. Alan’s knowledge of cycling physiology and athletic training really helped me advance my skills. His knowledge of France was a bonus. Not only getting to see interesting villages by bicycle, he exposed us to other treasures along the way.
Robbie Cotton, Lucas Valley, California. Attended the trip 2006.
Jeff and Robbie, day 3 and their attitude says it all !
The ride of my life! By the end of August, 2006, my friend Francis, “The Cisco Kid” and I decided to travel from Costa Rica to meet with six American friends in the best country to practice road biking, which is France.
The original plan was to go from Biarritz, in the Bay of Biscay in the Atlantic Ocean to Perpignan in the marvelous Mediterranean Sea. The distance is about 900 kilometers and the journey goes through the Pyrenees and the famous mountain ports of the Tour de France.
I only have to close my eyes to see, just like a picture, the views of the Col of Aubisque, Col du Tourmalet, Col d'Aspin and the many beautiful towns; Oloron, Argeles, St. Girons and Rivesaltes, just to mention some of the places that every cyclist around the world should visit at least once.
I still can feel the pain in my legs, my back and my soul when “damned” Jeff made me go, with my pulse up to 180, up the Tourmalet. I insisted that I was not Ulrich and that he was not Armstrong and moreover that we were not racing the tour. However, our excitement increased as we were approaching the summit and we could see nothing but the names of the professional racers written on the road. This almost made our hearts explode but I dropped Jeff. The reward was to remember that our van, with plenty of food and drinks, was waiting for us at the highest point and that the French, with a quick phone call, could have an ambulance ready for us in a few minutes.
The crazy Americans decided to go back again all the way to Biarritz, another 600 kilometers; but my friend and I decided to go back but in a comfortable rented car at the Blue Coast. That is what I call “seize the day!”
The highways, the views, the people, the food, the cycling culture, the good new friends and above everything, the beautiful girls you can see during the journey, are an invitation to go back more than one time. Thank you for the best bike trip I've ever done!
Alberto Coto, Costa Rica. Attended the trip 2006.
Alberto, Francis and Jeff.
Without a doubt, this was the cycling trip of a lifetime. The route took us over some of the most challenging and spectacular terrain I've ever encountered. Being an avid cyclist, to have ridden climbs such as the Tourmalet, Aubisque, Marie-Blanque, Peyresourde, and Pailheres is an accomplishment I will brag about for years to come. Allan’s van support gave us everything we needed on the road, including (at no extra charge) his witty and sardonic remarks and observations that kept us motivated and smiling. Allan's support, along with the camaraderie (and humour) of my fellow riders, was an integral part of the enjoyment and pleasure of this very demanding yet rewarding journey. I will forever cherish the memory of this trip and the exceptional group of people with whom I shared it.
Rosemarie Hewig, NY. Attended the trip in 2009.
Rose at the summit of the Col d'Aubisque.
"As the years go past, I have certain treasured adventures and moments that I look back on and think how wonderful they were and how lucky I was to do them. Cycling across the Pyrenees was one of those memorable experiences. My wife told me that this was an experience I could not say no to, and after much self doubt I said "I am going". There were truly magical moments as I rode along through the small French villages, or when I had to employ maximum output of each pedal stroke up a classic climb. The routes Allan chose were as spectacular as one could imagine. Pictures will never accurately convey the true flavour of the scenery whether it was a small village with quaint stone houses, or mountain streams winding their way next to the road through an intense green forest. At times I actually seemed to be in my own small world rolling along thinking this must be a dream."
Jack Meltesen - 2010 Pyrenees cycling adventure. Mill Valley, CA. Attended the trip in 2010.
Happy Jack all the time !
Spectacular, inspirational, magnificent, still fall a bit short in description of a most incredible cycling experience, both for a renaissance of one's spirit, and one's zest for challenging endeavours for enhancing life's nectar.
The Pyrenees are their own reward, views, ascents, and descents as all true cyclists deftly understand, the mantra of suffering is always countered by the syrup of endorphin euphoria. On this tour, the abundance of both was constantly simmering in a marti gras stew of coast to coast proportions.
Make no mistake, the grins never stop, as you (make your way back from the Mediterranean coast) will find yourself reeling from the magnificence of the plateaus to the notoriously envied vineyards (though not ignored by most of our group, who courageously fought back guilt in order to confirm these were truly the source for the nectar of the gods) cobblestone pathways and smooth as Velodrome track alleyways in the French villages you'll pass through, as if they were placed in just the right proportion to embrace you in full French flavour, as if to make everyday, an all day dessert trek.
To say this is an irreplaceable experience, may be a bit premature, as it is not clear as to what other magic our illustrious French guide, and road mentor might be concocting for future endeavours, but let it stand that if you truly want to have the ride of your life, Allen will amaze even the most skeptical, and you will find that riding from one to French village, savouring the flair, and the embrace of the French, only to waken with anticipation of gorging yourself with another days stuffing of greatest riding, and support you will find anywhere on the planet. But if you must choose epic roads, with incredible views, for indelible memories forever.... choose this trek!!!
I challenge you to treat yourself to a more rewarding cycling adventure... anywhere!
Scot Combs, Greenbrae, California. Attended the trip 2006.
Scot, day 8, and still hoping to "podium."