Tour de France MTB Special :: Essential Information
Last Updated on Tuesday, 20 December 2011 16:13
We stay in L'Alpage, a comfortable chalet 15 minutes walk uphill from the centre of Ax. Alan and Marie Helen, our hosts, create a warm and relaxed atmosphere for us in their welcoming home. The spacious lounge and bar opens on to a panoramic south facing terrace - the perfect place to relax with a beer at the end of a great day in the hills! Accommodation is normally allocated on a twin share basis with shared facilities. There is a Television in the lodge, so we can watch the progress of the approaching riders.
Breakfast: Continental style breakfasts are provided by the the accommodation. We supplement these with fruit and cereals.
Lunches: Comprehensive picnic lunches will be provided on the 3 biking days, which you will be expected to carry with you - we pride ourselves in providing delicious sandwiches with 2 different fillings per day!
Dinner: 5 evenings meals will be taken together in the Lodge, and normally consist of 3 generous courses of local French specialities. The other 2 meals are not included giving you an opportunity to head into Ax and try out some of the fine French and International restaurants.
Special diets: Alan and Marie Helen are very used to providing excellent meals for vegetarians and coeliacs. Please contact us if you have any other special dietary requirements.
Guiding and Instruction
The Mountain Bike Guiding and Instruction is offered by Alan Toogood, who is one of the few British people to hold the the French VTT qualification (he is hence one of the few guides legally taking British groups). Alan will offer informal instruction to those wanting to improve their technique. Alan will be assisted by a our support vehicle driver.
This highly qualified / experienced team means that Marmot Tours is able to offer you the best possible service and ensure that you have the best possible holiday.
There is a maximum of 7 people on this holiday (minimum 4). Bookings from single people are welcome as Mountain biking holidays are a great way to make new friends.
Transport / Support
Every morning you will be transferred up to our ride start point in our private minibus which is fitted with a bike rack.
What to Bring
You will be sent a link to our suggested packing list with your final joining instructions, sent out a week or so before your trip. For information before this time, please see our Before You Go Section of the website
Bringing Your Own Bike
Flying with your Bike
If you make sure that your bike is properly prepared for travel it is unlikely that any damage will come to it.
Costs: Most airlines now charge for transportation of bikes. They are also constantly changing their policies / charges, so it is best to check the latest information before booking your flights. The links below are for the most frequently used airlines used on our trips.
- Ryan Air: Although these seem fairly expensive, Ryan Air are the only airline that actually limits the number of bikes at the booking stage, so it is impossible for there to be more than 15 bikes on the flight. Also with their ridiculous charges for hold baggage, most people just fly with hand luggage meaning that their hold is actually fairly empty, making it very unlikely that there will not be space on the flight for your bike.
- British Airways
- Easy Jet
- Jet 2
Trains with your Bike
Depending on which French train company you are traveling with, you may have to pay for your bike.
- TER trains: if your bike is boxed then you are able to travel with it on any train, but if it is assembled and traveling as a bike, then you will be restricted to certain trains (marked on individual timetables).
- Other train lines: you will need a bike ticket, available to purchase over the phone from Rail Europe on 0844 848 5848. There is a flat rate booking fee of £8 (2010 price) regardless of number of bikes or journeys.
Packing your Bike
All airlines now insist that your bike is either be boxed or bagged.
- Blag a cardboard box from a local bike store.
- More and more bike shops are offering a bike bag / box rental service which may be worth looking into.
- If you know that you are going to do a lot of flying with you bike then check out the range of boxes/bags available on the Wiggle website.
Packing up your bike need not be too complicated. The key thing is to brace the forks / rear stay after you have taken a wheel out - this can be done with an old hub or the piece of plastic your bike came with (any bike shop will give you one of these for free).
Full info on packing up you bike will come with your bike bag / box, otherwise check out this bikeradar.com article which gives you a comprehensive overview. If you not sure how to pack your bike, or do not have a bike box, then check out Bike Box Online for hire of boxes and professional bike packing.
There is no need to bring any tools with you to reassemble your bike (except specific fork / suspension pumps). We have a torque wrench, but you will need to know the torque values. We naturally have track pumps and other general bike tools available throughout the trip.
If you do not want to have the hassle of bringing your own bike then you can hire a bike from Marmot Tours. We have a fleet of Specialized Rockhoppers with standard or disc brakes. We do not have any fully suspension bikes available. Hire must be arranged in advance as there are limited bikes (and sizes) available. For more information please see the Bike Hire section.