Cycling and wine tasting holidays around Mont Ventoux

 

ImageThe Region surrounding the iconic cycling peak of Mont Ventoux known as the Vaucluse includes the famous cycling towns of Bédoin and Malaucène. These towns provide two of the starting points to attempt the climb accessible from three different directions. Mont Ventoux sticking out at 1912 meters is visible from miles around and has earned the nickname as the ‘Beast of Provence’ The name Mont Ventoux derives from the French word for windy, which suitably describes the ‘Mistral’ wind that frequently blows down the Rhone Valley.
 
However the region provides a host of other cycling and mountain bike routes to explore such as the Baronnies Hills or the Toulourenc Valley with climbs such as the Col d’Ey at 718m, the Col de Soubeyrand at 996m, the Col de Perty at 1330m, or regions second highest mountain, Montagne de Lure at 1800m. 
 
Of course, the region is also famous for the wines of the Rhone Valley, which is the second largest quality wine producing area of France. It is also the oldest since there has been winemaking here since 500BC. Probably the best known wine village is Chateauneuf du Pape, the wine of the Popes when they lived here in medieval times. Many of the same families are still making fabulous wine here today.

Winemaking not only provides more jobs than any other industry in the Rhone, but the extensive vineyards on undulating hills and valleys make for a visual delight when cycling the area. There are over 6000 wine growers in the region making red, white and rose wines from predominantly Grenache and Syrah grapes.  

 
Should you dream of combining a cycling holiday to the region with the chance to taste and learn about the different wines of the region Gite du Vin is the perfect option.

ImageHere surrounded by fields of vineyards with spectacular views over the Mont Ventoux, the Gite provides the perfect location to explore the region by bike and unwind at the end of the day in their large pool and immaculate gardens. Linda Field the Gite owner and qualified wine teacher can help you make sense of it all while you taste some of the regions best wines. Over 2-3 hours you will understand more about the geography, the history and the wines of the region, and taste several different examples of the wine styles the region offers.

 
For more details about this property, or others in the region, visit us at Bike Lodging.

PORTES DU SOLEIL – MTB AND THE PASSPORTES DU SOLEIL

 

Register for Passportes du Soleil

During the summer months, this region linked by 24 lifts covering 12 mountain villages makes up the largest connected mountain bike area in the world.  With over 650km of marked trails, 10 specific downhill track and 4 expertly desi

gned bike parks, there is something to challenge every level of mountain bike rider.The area is most famous for the 80km Enduro mountain bike event called the Passportes du Soleil, which in 2013 saw 6500 competitors take part. The route uses 15 of the 24 lifts, passes through both France and Switzerland, and has 6000 meters of descending and thanks to the use of lifts, just 1000 meters of climbing. It is designed to take riders to all corners of the massive area and showcase the variety of terrain and trails that the area has to offer. Locals line the route and provide support and a number of food stations many of which offering a selection of local produce. The event is open to riders of all different levels with a number of optional sections to make the course more or less challenging.

In 2014 Les Gets will be the host village and the event will take place on the 27,28 and 29th June. Fingers crossed for better weather condition than in 2013.

Registration for the 2014 event is open from Wednesday 12th February from 9am. Further details can be found on www.passportesdusoleil.com.

Thanks to the high numbers of competitors, it is essential to sign up for the event and book you accommodation early. At www.Bikelodging.com we have a number of bike friendly properties available in the ports du Soleil area. Send us an email and we will help find you the perfect MTB holiday accommodation.

 

Mountain biking in Alpe d’Huez after the lifts have closed

Within the mountain biking world, Alpe d’Huez is of course best known for the MegaAvalanche. This three day event attracts thousands of amateurs keen to race against some of the best professional riders. Competitors start at the Pic Blanc at 3300m, beginning the race on the glacier before descending over 30km of gruelling trail to Allemont at 720m.

Climbing to mid station of DMC
When the lifts close its time to get fit and ride up to your favourite trails in Alpe d’Huez.

However Alpe d’Huez is also a world-class location thanks to the explosion in popularity of ‘Enduro’ riding. This combination of cross country, all mountain and even down hill skills lends itself to the huge sprawling resort with miles and miles of single track to explore. During the season, over 250km of well-maintained trails are serviced by a network of chair lifts, gondolas and cable cars.

Unfortunately the summer season is only limited to about 10 weeks, so once schools go back at the end of August the resort starts closing down. However this does not mean the end of the mountain biking season at all. Autumn see some of the best conditions for riding with warm stable conditions and deserted trails. Many business owners, time restricted during the busy summer season, now find time to get a little more time on their bikes.

Cross country trails around Lac Besson
Cross country trails around Lac Besson

My ridding buddy Dan from Ribot Lodge and I finally find ourselves with a little more time on our hands to go and hit our favorite trails. Granted, the high altitude trails off the Pic Blanc are no longer accessible, unless you fancy an epic slog up the service roads. However the majority of the best trails are found just above resort level and all the way into the valley.

One of our favorite inter-seasons rides has us meeting in Bourg for a pre ride coffee. Now some chose to ride the road up to Alpe d’Huez, but we prefer to catch the bus, which costs around €3 and is adapted for mountain bikes. There’s plenty of technical climbing to be done later in the day so good to keep something in the tank for then. Plus these days with both having kids, we have to have to keep our rides times down a little.

The bus drops you close to the top of the resort, where the majority of other riders chose to take one the of the down hill trails back to the valley such as the one from Villard Reculas via the Forêt de l’Ors. However here we chose to jump on the bikes and climb higher by paved then unpaved road to just past the mid station of the DMC gondola, where we hit the XC 11 MTB trail. This is a reasonably new and very fun piece of undulating single track, passing a number of picturesque lakes, ending with a fast decent to the mid station of the Grande Rouse cable car. Here you have a number of options. Continue on past the cable car on the EN7 down towards Vaujany and where there are further options to continue on down to Allemont. Alternatively change to the EN9 trail underneath l’Alpette gondola down to Oz Station (resort). However we chose to take a path that is located between these trails, which lead to just below the resort of Oz, but by a much more naturel and fun forest single track. This path is technically for hikers only and off limits to mountain bikers, but during the inter-season is totally deserted, so we never have any problems.

It starts as a high speed decent through grassy pastures, before dropping into technical

A secret MTB trail leading to the ski village of OZ station
A secret MTB trail leading to the ski village of OZ station

rock gardens, then moves into the forest and fast flowing, natural switch backs. Once in Oz station there is a short climb to bring you up to the lower part and arguably the most enjoyable section of the mega avalanche course (EN1). This is a fast section of forest trails with some high speed and technical berm corners. This trail can lead all the way to the mega finish line in Allemont, but we are usually short of time by this stage, so peel off close to the bottom in the direction of Bourg and the cars. There are trails on either side of the valley leading to Bourg along this 9km section. Both are undulating, but with little actual altitude gain. This section is a race to the cars and generally recognized as the time to drain the last of the energy in the legs.

The time it takes to complete the circuit varies hugely with your skill and fitness level, but you should leave yourself a good half-day. The bus from Bourg to Alpe d’Huez is number 3020 and 2013/14 timetable can be viewed here

Located in and close to Le Bourg d’Oisans are a number of cycling and mountain bike friendly hotels and chalets. One such hotel, Hotel Rondpoint is ideally placed close to the bottom of the road to Alpe d’Huez and offer the possibility of an uplift service to the resort for mountain bikers.