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 October 2018
    Peter Carter

    An amazing and immensely enjoyable trip

    The trip was way beyond my expectations. I’m 67 and enjoy rides of 100km and hills. I knew that I’d be right for one or two days but was apprehensive that I could string it together for six days and still enjoy it through to the end. Each day I got stronger and finished reasonably fresh at the end of the day. We went through a range of stunning country; vast mountainous views, valleys and picturesque towns. Roads were very smooth, even in the mountains and drivers very courteous of cyclists. We enjoyed temps of 30C and higher (and one day when we had 2-3 hours of rain, another with half an hour of very heavy rain, fortunately not too cold) Claude our guide/van driver was fantastic. We all were strangers to each other at the beginning; different ages (39 to 67) and from different countries, but got on extremely well - I am sure because of support and service provided by Claude that meant went the trip went so well. I hired a bike through Exodus with 105 Shimano componentry and 32T cassette; (a lesser quality than my own at home) but found it very reasonable. (it’s the engine not the machine!!) Accomodation and meals (breakfasts and evening meals were very reasonable (certainly didn’t need or want a 4 Star experience)

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    For me it was the last day; a ride of 150km that included a great climb up Col des Pailheres, that finished at St Cyprien Des Plages. Walking into the Mediterranean I was overwhelmed with emotion; the realisation that my trip with new friends was now finished!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Claude our leader/van driver, was sensational, and provided exceptional service. Each day he provided gpx files, a detailed route map, and a cue sheet that detailed towns, turns and morning tea stops and lunches. Along the way he stop his van by the roadside, ready with drinks and nibbles, and calm words of encouragement. He also arranged to buy our lunches on our behalf, so we were able to enjoy wonderful picnics on a Col or beside the road. Each evening, he provided an excellent briefing of the next day’s ride, before our evening meal. Overall a very professional and meticulous service, that was calm, relaxing and supportive to us all.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    I believe that it would be very beneficial for riders to do a number of 100km rides, including hills, in the weeks before. That way way you’ll be better prepared, and hence enjoy the trip. I also used a heart rate monitor so that I rode within my capabilities. On the first day I road a bit faster, and my average heart rate was nearly 140. I knew that if I continued at that rate I would get accumulated fatigue, and perhaps muscle soreness that reduce the enjoyment of the trip. I subsequently averaged each day about 120bpm, which meant I finished the days fresher, and very little fatigued (but tired). I would also suggest at the end of a days ride, to have a banana or other carbs, and electrolytes within half an hour (ASIS do that with their riders)

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Again to say what a wonderful leader Claude was, just awesome!
  • Reviewed September 2018
    Martin Harris

    Pyrenees Coast-to-coast

    As a solo traveller, it can be a bit of a risk signing up to a group ride over such a testing parcours. The group was small; no cliques or egos just a bunch of guys wanting to ride some mountains. Ride solo at your own pace or ride together helping each other along? We did a bit of both. The weather was superb, some overnight rain and damp roads early-on but no rain when riding and dry when descending. The morning clouds giving some great affects in the high mountains before the sun burnt them away. Claude was our group leader and what a great job he did. No-one got lost, went hungry or thirsty and he took some great photos.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The high passes of the Tourmalet and Peyresourde were special but for me the best day was the last day. A 1,300m HC climb first thing in the morning to a chilly and cloudy summit and then a long descent pretty much all the way to the coast. Steep, tight and twisty at first with fantastic views as the clouds burnt away, a slightly wider road through the gorge and then a long, fast descent on a smooth road (except the level crossings) with little traffic, the sun on our faces and the wind on our back. A couple of little rises to negotiate but a day that it all. Yes, the traffic got a little worse near the coast but that was to be expected. 6 degrees on top of the mountain, 30 degrees o the beach.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Claude was awesome. His advice is to start early and hopefully finish early, also allowing for contingency. We were on the road at 8am every day.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Some of the hotels had swimming pools and a couple were in spa towns so pack appropriate kit to aid your post-ride relaxation. Note that the thermal spas have restrictions on certain (most) types of bathing costumes. Respect the mountains and be sure to pack kit for all weather.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Do some training! 6 days of mountain riding are tough and don't overdo it on Day 1 and the morning of Day 2; the smaller climbs of the Basque country have to be conquered before the first major test - the Col d'Aubisque late on Day 2
  • Reviewed July 2018
    Richard Barnes

    Jolly nice day for a pedal with "the grand fromage"

    Thoroughly enjoyable trip from start to finish. We enjoyed favourable weather throughout our journey, although we did cycle into the clouds on a couple of occasions. This is a demanding trip. However, it is not beyond the determined cyclist, prepared to put in some training, prior to setting off. The tour leader "Claude" went way beyond what was expected. Ensuring that mechanicals, were sorted in "double quick" time and providing picnics on a daily basis. Recommendations for evening meals were also greatly appreciated. The guy really knows his stuff, always ready with a cheery smile and a well stocked snack supply, from the back of the van.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Taking the "optional" trip to the top of the Col d'Aubisque, with 4 other hardy souls, was quite surreal. As the major road up one side of the mountain is currently closed (It was washed out in the recent floods), there was hardly anyone at the top with us. Long live the Aubisque 5!! Doing 60km an hour toward the Mediterranean coast with a 40 mile an hour following wind

    What did you think of your group leader?

    As previously stated, Claude (The grand Fromage) went beyond what could reasonably expected of a tour leader. I had an issue with one of my wheels whilst on the trip. Claude, provided me with a spare and whisked my own wheel away to a local repairer. I had it back at the next stop. Service, indeed. His continued happy demeanour and welcome snacks, added greatly to the overall experience

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Train before you go. It's a demanding trip Savour the descents - gravity is your friend

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Thoroughly recommended - I was apprehensive prior to departure. But truly enjoyed, from start to end
  • Reviewed July 2018
    Niki Field

    Excellent coast to coast trip through the beautiful Pyrenees

    A great cycling challenge for the enthusiast, requiring a good level of fitness. Spectacular scenery with some iconic climbs and lengthy descents which allow you to take in the fabulous views. Very well organised, generally good accommodation and Claude, our guide , couldn’t have been more helpful. Would definitely recommend this trip though I took my own bike which gave me greater confidence.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Rising to the challenge and enjoying every moment. The exhilaration of jumping into the beautiful Mediterranean Sea at the end of the last day’s ride will be hard to beat!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Excellent. Knowledgeable, friendly and helpful. Felt well supported. Great picnics along the way with Claude asking us each day what we’d like on the menu, then doing his best to provide it. Thank you Claude.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    I packed way too much gear- most of which I didn’t need as there were opportunities to have kit washed along the way. I would recommend potential travelers make sure they are fit enough to take this on- it will make the difference between torture and an enjoyable but achievable challenge.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Already planning my next exodus trip!
  • Reviewed July 2018
    Des Cassidy

    Man up, it's tough

    Tough, feeling it on the first day taster after the second a few sensitivities arose, on sharing these with the group the advice given "Man up". As if following in the wheels of the TDF is hard enough the June group were a tough competitive bunch not content to get over the Mountains they wanted to trash it out. Caught between to social spheres, oldies or the London boys , I chose the free bus travel group and what a competitive bunch they were. Sweated buckets , never looked up at the view on the last climb so determined was I to make a mark on the cake crusader.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Non stop intense last climb.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Cool , patient gave good clear guidance and was never piqued or surprised when we all promptly ignored it and done our own thing. Would have being interesting to see him ride as part of the group for some climbs..

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    It's tough. the group was tough and with that comes a certain pride respect in finishing it.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Takes you to the next level on your cycling experience.
  • Reviewed July 2018
    Andrew Smith

    Raid Pyrenean

    Wonderful week of riding the bike through beautiful landscape.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Crossing some of the cols made famous by the Tour de France.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Claude was a fantastic group leader, always cheerful and resourceful and a key factor in the success of the trip.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Get as fit as possible beforehand.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Thank you EXodus for facilitating a most enjoyable and memorable experience.
  • Reviewed October 2017
    Claire Mills

    So glad I did this

    I'd been looking at this trip for a couple of years but never thought I was fit enough to do it. This year was now or never. I would highly recommend putting the training in beforehand as doing a 50-60 mile club ride once a week isn't going to cut it for 6 days doing between 100 - 140km and around 2500m of climbing each day. Climbs are epic (you will find yourself in the pain cave on occasion) and the downhills are sweet as anything and will leave you grinning from ear to ear. Do it!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Getting to the top of the Col D'Aubisque, realising that even though I'd spent time in the pain cave I was alive and the descent off the top was one of the best ones ever! I was still smiling half an hour later. This was the most physical and mentally demanding things I've done and seeing the Med at the other end was wonderful

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Claud was superb - up there with the best of the Exodus guides. I was a little surprised initially that he wasn't out riding with us, but it worked really well with him being our support for the trip. Always happy and couldn't do enough for us. If I did this trip again, I'd be asking for Claud

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Put the training in beforehand - it'll make the whole experience more enjoyable. Do not forget your sudocrem, chamois cream and various other lotions as it's a long time in the saddle each day. Take clothes for all weathers. Our first day it rained, then for the rest of the time it was pretty fresh first thing and then warmed up so layers were essential. Breakfasts in the main tended to be croissants, yoghurts, bread (repeat). I'm glad I took my own cereal. There's a plentiful supply of bananas, peanut M&M's (a week later I'm still weaning myself off them, thanks Claud), fruit, nuts and other snacks. Oh and Strava kept adding 600m onto all my rides so Garmins were a lot more accurate. We didn't have a lot of downtime of an evening so this is not a relaxing holiday :-) You don't need the routes in advance.
  • Reviewed August 2016
    Scott Chalker

    Pyrenean coast to coast

    I was a little daunted as this was my first overseas cycling tour and I am not a natural climber. Travelling from Australia I took my own bike and backed up two days later on the alpine cols of the Tour de France trip. The days are long and the climbs are touch especially day two and the last day. Day three was easier than expected. The descents are amazing and it is worth taking your own bike for the confidence it gives when descending and no blisters or other uncomfortable bits. It was great having Claude with a well stocked fridge, bites to eat, tea and coke. Having an official photographer was great.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The descent on the second riding day was amazing. Beware of the two tunnels they aren't lit and were very dark.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Claude was well organised. We never got lost. The van was always well stocked with food and drink. Claude was very friendly and accommodating.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    It's worth taking 6 days worth of cycling kit as the days are long and it is a hassle finding the time to wash it. The alpine cols of the Tour de France is a much easier trip with much shorter days if you are contemplating which to do and you're not cycling fit. If you can do the seven peaks challenge in Australia you can do this trip, Mt Hotham and Baw Baw are harder than any of the climbs on this trip.
  • Reviewed July 2016
    Christopher Woollacott

    Raid Pyrenees Trip June 2016

    I took part in the Raid Pyrenees cycle ride in June 2016. It was an excellent week's cycling, with good company and an excellent guide. Fantastic scenery, challenging climbs up 20kms long, adrenaline fuelled descents and professional and efficient organisation sum this trip up. Not for the faint-hearted and you need to be fit but a great trip for the cycling enthusiast who wants a challenge.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Cycling up the Col de Tourmalet, a climb that the organisers of the 1910 Tour de France feared was unachievable.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Claude was an excellent guide. Professional, encouraging, helpful and friendly throughout the week.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Get fit before you travel and make sure you can cycle 80 miles a day for 6 days running.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I have no hesitation in recommending Exodus for this kind of trip. I have travelled with them on cycling holidays twice and both trips were outstanding.
  • Reviewed September 2015
    Alasdair Soper

    Worth Every Penny

    Brilliant route, taking in iconic climbs which feature in the Tour de France, as well as less well known, but equally challenging hills. Good mix of climbing and flat. Daily distances just about right, making it challenging, but not torture. Good accommodation and food. Good group of people. Group leader, Johann, was helpful, pleasant and resourceful.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Swimming in the Med at the end of the trip.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Excellent. Executed some brilliant adhoc bicycle repairs to keep the group going. Kept a close eye on everyone on the road, providing food and water. Provided pleasant company at the dinner table. No complaints.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Just the usual. Shorts and gloves. Make sure they're up to it.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    No
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