Turtle, Ecuador

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Your Words - We tell it like it is! Holiday Reviews by previous Exodus travellers  

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  • Reviewed July 2019
    Tim Hall

    Great first trip for riding the big mountains

    Excellent itinerary for a first trip into cycling big mountains. Great food and drink to be had en route - Thierry's ability to conjure up a suitable picnic every day, and find beautiful spots to stop to eat, was definitely a highlight. Stunning views from the cols.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Cime de la Bonette - highest road in Europe. Seeing the banners for the Tour de France that would ride some of the same climbs just a couple of weeks after us.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Come prepared for all weathers! We had blistering hot days - but other alps trips at the same time of year have had snow falling and temperatures around 0C. If you're bringing your own bike, have a 32 cassette rather than a 28 - you'll use it a lot.
  • Reviewed July 2019
    Lorraine Naylor

    Amazing trip for keen cyclist

    The Cols of the Tour de France have been on my bucket list for many years and now I've finally done it. We had exceptionally hot weather but being mountains this can change at any time. Our tour guide was amazing. He was supportive and helpful and full of local knowledge. The mileage each day was manageable but for anyone who doesn't cycle hills regularly it is important to get some training in. Some days you can be going up hill for 3-4 hours (depending on how fast you cycle of course). Downhill skills are also needed ! The scenery is spectacular and worth the effort. I loved the trip, the local hotels, the food and the Apres cycle beer!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Cycling to the top of the Col de la Bonnette. The last section was steep and very demanding but the satisfaction and views were worth it.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our leader Thierry was excellent. He worked so hard and was always happy.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Get some hill training in. Develop your aerobic fitness and learn to hydrate properly.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The daily mileage isn't huge but the mountains are !
  • Reviewed September 2018
    Andre van Wiggen

    Great trip

    Great trip, tough climbing but managable, even for a Dutch person, with proper training. Nice company. Great tour guide (Thierry) who makes sure there is enough to eat and drink. It helps to have your own bike.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Each time you reach the top of those tough climbs.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Excellent. Made sure we had enough food and drinks. Nice guy with a lot of experience.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don’t do this unprepared. Three out of six cycling days are long and tough. Try to bring your own bike though rental bikes are good.
  • Reviewed September 2018
    Stuart Brandom

    Breathtaking scenery and challenging cycling.

    An amazing week full of hard cycling climbs, adrenaline filled descending, great company, magnificent regional food and a superb tour guide.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Whilst cycling the Col du Lautaret on the way to the Col du Galibier the clouds had come over the mountains and surrounded me. Visibility was poor, the temperature dropped and facing a strong head wind. I'm left with the eerie sense of completely missing the top of the climb and not knowing when it's coming. I turned the corner to climb the Galibier, and a fellow cyclist calls out my name. To my complete surprise, there is a hotel at the top of the Lautaret and café. We took a break to let some of the cloud clear (and hope that the temperature rises) and head onward to the top of the Galibier. Although the climb was hard, I soon forgot the agony when you can look over the valley at the breaking clouds below. Seeing my friends stretched out below me and sharing the same experience was a memory I'll never forget and cheering everyone up to the top knowing we all suffered through freezing cold and strong winds reminds you that life is pretty good.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    This was my second tour with Thierry as group leader and once again he excelled himself. Always cheerful, knowledgeable and a pleasure to converse with. Knowing that after each climb, we had lunch waiting for us made up of fresh bread, with wonderful regional cheeses and succulent peaches, it kept you motivated to get over the climbs. Thierry had everything sorted and left you with nothing to worry about. For the briefest of seconds, Thierry made me feel like a pro as he ran up the Alpe D'Huez with me whilst passing over Harribos.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Train....train....train...keep training and don't stop. Seek out those hills and keep going up and down them. You'll need to find your climbing pace and aim to sustain it for at least two hours. Take leg warmers and thermal jackets for the descents. It maybe warm at the bottom of the valley, but coming down the mountains could be freezing cold.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The cycling was superb, but so was the local food. It was a real delight to sample the local produce and have it cooked to perfection. If you have any apprehension of going on your own, don't. The group bonded really quickly and everyone encouraged each other to succeed on the climbs. Lastly, remember to go right at the top of Alpe D'Huez and not straight on. :)
  • Reviewed July 2018
    Neil Soiffer

    Top of the Alpine World

    Its tough and you shouldn't do this ride without training, but the reward is worth it! Stunning views, thrilling descents, and climbs that last for hours give you a great sense of accomplishment once you make it to the top.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The final day with two big climbs (Col de la Croix de Fer and Alpe d'Huez) on Saturday was a great capstone for a great trip. Reaching the top of Alpe d'Huez was both anti-climatic (no big banner, just a small sign) and also thrilling. Knowing that I did a climb that is iconic was a great feeling. The most memorable moment though was eating lunch huddled in our group leader's van while hail pounded down on the van at the top of the Col de Lombarde. We were cold and wet, but everyone made it up and trying to warm up and refuel while confined together helped bond the group. When the rain let up, we headed to a bar a little down the hill for hot chocolate and coffee where everyone's resolve picked up and the weather improved. Actually, the most memorable moment was truly just a quick terrifying moment -- going fast down the a hill and rounding a steep corner at high speed and having the front tire go flat was a moment etched into my brain as I was literally an inch from flying off the road before I got enough traction to barely make the turn and come to a stop 50 feet later. Time really slowed down as the bike slid ever closer to the edge. That's something I hope no one else gets to experience.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Thierry was a great group leader -- friendly, funny, knowledgeable, and always looking out for the best interests of the group. We had a wide range of skills in our group and he found ways to accommodate everyone. It was great to have snacks in the van for refueling on the long climbs. He bought food for group lunches/picnics. It was both faster and cheaper, plus we got to eat some great local cheeses he would buy. His choice of dinner spots and tours of the town before and after dinner made for some memorable moments. I'd join any trip that he leads!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Train for the climbs, be prepared for the altitude, and don't forget to pack warm clothes in the van (including full finger gloves) in case you have hit bad weather near the top. It might be warm when you start, but at 3,000m, it can be really cold and the descents will accentuate that.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Train for the trip and you'll be glad you did it.
  • Reviewed September 2017
    Catherine White

    Alpine Cols

    Great trip, fantastic scenery, superb guide

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Completing the final climb up Alpe d'Huez

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Couldn't fault him, knowledgeable, helpful, fun.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    It can be very cold in mid September, pack some warm weather gear!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Thanks for a great trip!
  • Reviewed September 2017
    Paul Cartwright

    Cols du Tour de France 2017

    This was a truly amazing experience and certainly one which I will remember for a very long time. The climbs are indeed challenging but manageable for most regular cyclists. The trip is well planned with most of the hard ascents in the morning with a good amount of downtime on most afternoons and with options for optional extra rides on the shorter days for those who are fit enough. We were blessed with good weather throughout which I am sure does make a difference as I would imagine that some of the descents would be hair raising in wet conditions.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Every day had its highlights but for me the last two days of the trip were the best particularly the climbs up the Col du Galibier on Friday and Col du Glandon on the Saturday.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Thierry was without doubt an absolutely top guy. He organised picnics for us most days buying baguettes,ham,cheese and fruit and met us at a pre-arranged place for lunch which was extremely welcome after the hard climbs. He also stopped part way up the climbs to hand out bananas and sweets to top our energy reserves.. He lives in a town which is on the route so knows the area very well so was very informative about the local history and geography of the area. At the start of each day he was very helpful in guiding us to the start of the days route in his van and likewise at the end of the day to our hotel.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    It was very cold at the top of the Cols for the first couple of days of the trip particularly on the Col de la Bonette and I for one was under prepared. For the September trip it is necessary to take long fingered and insulated gloves as well as several extra layers of clothing for the top of the climbs and especially the descents which were bitterly cold.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I would highly recommend this trip which certainly exceeded my own expectations.
  • Reviewed August 2016
    Scott Chalker

    Alpine cols of the Tour de France

    I backed up from the Pyrenean coast to coast two days earlier. In comparison this is a much easier tour with less kilometres per day. The scenery is stunning and the climbs are achievable if you can do all of the seven peaks climbs in Australia. I took my own bike which was not a hassle and provided comfortable, confident riding which was an advantage as the descents are long. Go prepared with at least one set of winter gear, we needed it on one day.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Climbing alpe d'huez after 72km on the last day and being in the 50th percentile on strava, as I am not a climber.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Thierry was motivated and fun. Would often provide further riding for those who were keen after the main ride which I took the opportunity to do on one day when we headed back over the mountains into Italy. It was nice to have an official photographer.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    This is much easier than the Pyrenean coast to coast if you are deciding on which to do and are not a fit rider.
  • Reviewed August 2016
    Graham Burrows

    Alpine Cols of the Tour de France

    This is one trip that I won’t forget in a hurry. The climbs were tough, but the distances just about right to give some time off in the afternoon to relax and recover. The scenery was simply stunning and the descents were thrilling. Apart from one day when things turned a bit grim on the Galibier, the weather was warm, sunny and perfect for cycling. It was great having the minibus as backup, stopping at different locations each night and the group leader was excellent. I was a little perturbed about going on my own, but really needn't have been. The group were a nice mix of ages, abilities and nationalities and very easy to get on with. Highly recommended.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    It pretty much all was, but the ascents of the Col d'Izoard and Col de la Crox de Fer were exceptional.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leader was very friendly and helpful, as well as being knowledgeable about the local area and all things bike-related.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The weather may suddenly take a turn for the worse, so bring winter gear as back-up. We needed it on one day, when temperatures plummeted to 7 deg.C and snow fell on the Galibier.
  • Reviewed August 2015
    Quan Nguyen

    Alpine Cols of the Tour de France

    Well supported and challenging holiday with an amazing, well informed and courteous tour leader. Loved that we rode from hotel to hotel an didn't take any motorized transportation. Rental bike was repsponsive and a joy to ride.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Climb to the top of Alpe d'Huez...very challenging in 37 degree heat with unrelenting 10% grade. Felt amazing to reach the top!