News Articles
View subject link The 2015 Tour de France in the Pyrenees
View subject link Centenary Cycle Celebrations on the Tourmalet in June
View subject link The Route du Sud in the Pyrenees
View subject link Ride Like a Local - with GPS
View subject link La Vuelta a España 2013 visits our valley on stage 15
View subject link Julie writes for Cycling Fitness on health & nutrition
View subject link Ultra Distance Running: La Grand Raid des Pyrenees
View subject link Velo Pyrenees publishes health and nutrition advice in cycling magazines
View subject link Skyrunning World Championships 2012
View subject link Transpyrenees Receives the Rando d'Or Accolade
View subject link Velo Pyrenees Chickens in Self Sufficiency Magazines
View subject link A Beautiful Start to the Season - St Raphael Coupe de France VTT
View subject link New Nature Trail in the Barousse Valley
View subject link Lee becomes Champion of Haute Garonne 2010
View subject link British Airways & Bike Boxes: New Policy


The 2015 Tour de France in the Pyrenees
Tour de France 2015

The first part of the Tour could prove to be delicate for any GC contenders and climbing specialists, with the wind in Holland, the pavé, the stage to Le Havre, where the Tour's along the coast for a long time.

After 1,330 kilometres and 9 days, the remaining survivors of the tour will fly into the Pyrenees with a rest day.

The dynamics of the race will undoubtedly change with 3 consecutive days in the high mountains, each day getting longer and ramping up, going higher in total meters ascended.

The 3 high mountain stages in the Pyrenees are:

  • Stage 10 - Tuesday 14th July - 167km Tarbes to La Pierre-Saint-Martin
  • Stage 11 - Wednesday 15th July - 188 km Pau to Cauterets
  • Stage 12 - Thursday 16th July - 195 km Lannemezan to Plateau de Beille (passing St-Bertrand-de-Comminges, only 3km from us)

For further details of the Tour and the stages in the Pyrenees, please visit the Tour de France website.

Centenary Cycle Celebrations on the Tourmalet in June
la Géant at the Tourmalet summit

On the summit of the Toumalet is a bigger than life-size statue of Lapize Octave (known as la Géant), the first person during the Tour de France in 1910 to cycle over this col. It is spared the winter months, stored at the bottom in the former Laurent Fignon Centre but each Spring hundreds of cyclists are invited to join in the procession that takes la Géant to the summit.

The centenary TDF coincides with the centenary of the famous episode when Eugène Christophe broke his fork descending the Tourmalet then repaired it in a forge in Sainte-Marie de Campan. To commemorate this historic event which became a great legend of the Tour, the General Council of Hautes-Pyrénées is organising a reconstruction on Saturday 8th June which starts at 8:30am at Pierrefitte Nestalas with old bikes and cars of the time. It will be followed by the traditional "Montée du Géant du Tourmalet," at 9:30am - open to all cyclists and is free, without registration.

Participants are also invited to wear a moustache for the ascent, an appearance that makes Chirstophe stand out. At 14h a totem will be unveiled by Christian Prudhomme exactly where the break occurred in the fork. At 15:30, a faithful reconstruction of the event in Ste Marie de Campan takes place, especially focusing on the repair of the fork. At 17h 30, opening of an exhibition at the Relais des Pyrenees (former Laurent Fignon Centre) at Gerde / Bagneres de Bigorre;

"1913-2013 - Eugène Christophe: when history forged the legend of the Tour de France."

The exhibition runs from June 8th to July 21st (Wednesday to Sunday 15h-19H, free entry).

The Route du Sud in the Pyrenees

The 37th edition of the Route du Sud takes place from 13th to 16th June 2013. There are plenty of options to watch the race on the penultimate and final stages.

Izaourt (3km from us) is once again a ville depart for the third and toughest stage of the race on 15th June. The riders face a challenging 175km, climbing the Azet, Peyresourde and our local HC climb of Port de Bales before finishing in Luchon. See the riders sign on and then watch the closing stages of the race on Port de Bales or see the finish in Luchon. It is likely that the race will be decided in the Pyrenean mountains and the victor will be known on Saturday night as the final stage presents little difficulty.

On 16th June, Saint Gaudens hosts the final stage depart. See the riders sign on and watch the stage start.

The local press and sponsors of the race, La Depeche du Midi, report that whilst Chris Froome and Richie Porte will be otherwise engaged elsewhere, Sir Bradley Wiggins is likely to make a return visit to the Pyrenees to race on the very cols that won him the 2012 Tour de France.

Ride Like a Local - with GPS
The Garmin Edge 800

The new Garmin Edge 800 is revolutionising bike navigation units. It appears that for the first time cyclists can benefit from a GPS unit that works similar to a car Sat Nav with full colour and 3D with turn by turn prompts.

With the new technology you can 'ride like a local' with confidence; avoid those anxious moments when you wonder if you are on the right road. Or even in the right direction and there's no need to stop to check maps which all helps for a more flowing and enjoyable ride.

As a new service, we can supply you with a Garmin Edge 800, pre-charged, pre-installed on your bike and loaded with your routes based on discussions about what you want to do over the previous evening dinner. The Edge 800 is also compatible with +ANT components - if you have your own heart rate belt or power meter sensors that support this common standard, it will display the information alongside the navigation.

Runners and hikers do not have to feel left out either as there is the Garmin Forerunner, providing GPS navigation and the typical data such as elevation, distance, speed and heart rate.

Of course, if you have your own GPS unit, we are happy to help you get the most out of your trip by making the appropriate files available during your stay with us.

If you would like more information about borrowing one of our devices, please do not hesitate to contact us or ask upon your arrival.

La Vuelta a España 2013 visits our valley on Sunday 8 September 2013
Vuelta 2013 - Stage 15 profile

It is clear that the Pyrenees mountains are respected and worshipped by not only the Tour but also the Vuelta. 2013 is a unique year as the Vuelta has chosen to explore far into the French Pyrenees mountains.

It is in the heart of the Pyrenees that the peloton will face the longest stage of the Tour. Stage 15 is more than 230 kilometres, joining Andorra with Peyragudes in France. The Peyragudes is the same mountain finish where Bradley Wiggins won the 2012 Tour de France. A summit finish in France is the Vuelta's way of paying tribute to the 100th Tour de France.

40km into the stage, the riders face the first of four mountain passes, the Coll del Canto. 50km later, the peloton will reach the foot of the Port de la Bonaigua at 2,070m. From the summit, it's all downhill through the Val d'Aran and the border crossing at Fos. A gentle climb at Siradan brings the riders to Mauleon Barousse (4km from us) and the foot of Port de Bales. After a fast and technical descent the riders reach the Peyresourde, the final sting in the tail of a tough day in the saddle.

The organisers have stated that this will be a difficult stage and will probably be the deciding factor as to who is strong (and who is not) enough to win the Vuelta.

Ride the final part of the stage from Velo Pyrenees ahead of the Pro's!

For further information, visit the Vuelta a España website.

Julie writes for Cycling Fitness on health & nutrition
Raw Performance article

Could you ride 300km on just 20 bananas and water? Did you know that Fausto Coppi won the Tour de France and Giro in the same year whilst following a raw diet? A feat never repeated.

Julie at Velo Pyrenees has written 'Raw Performance' published in Cycling Fitness magazine which explores the pros and cons of following a raw diet.

At Velo Pyrenees, we are focused on catering for individual diets and always source the best quality local organic ingredients.

You can read the full article here on Raw Performance.

 

 

La Grand Raid des Pyrénées
Part of the trail running cup

Held on the 21st - 25th August 2013, this sixth edition of this challenging Ultra distance event passes through some of the most beautiful and spectacular wilder reaches of the central Pyrenees. There is the choice of two courses for individuals: the Ultra and the Grand Trail. There is also a 240km Raid for teams of three or four runners. All trails start and finish at Vielle Aure which is a 50km drive from our base.

The Ultra Trail is 160km with 10,000m of ascending including 10 mountain passes above 2,000m altitude. The majority of the fairly technical course follows the popular GR10 walking route.

There is a cut-off time of 50 hours. Entry limit is 850 and cost is €130. Entries open 13th January and close 30th June unless race limit is reached beforehand.

The Grand Trail is 80km with 5,000m of ascending, including 6 mountain passes above 2,000m altitude.

There is a cut-off time of 25 hours. Entry limit is 850 and cost is €90. Entries open 13th January and close 30th June unless race limit is reached beforehand.

It is compulsory to carry at least 1.5 litres of water, two lamps with spare batteries, survival blanket, waterproofs and food reserves for either race.

The Raid is 240km with 15,000m of ascending. The Raid is open to teams of three or four runners - the team captain must have completed three or more mountain races of 150km or longer. This course is unmarked. Entry is limited to 30 teams.

Further information can be found on the Grand Raid Pyrenees race website.
Go to link www.grandraidpyrenees.com

Velo Pyrenees publishes health and nutrition advice in cycling magazines
Ride with a Smile article

Cycling with hayfever article

'Ride with a smile', published in Cycling Fitness (summer 2012) was inspired by Lesley Turner Hall, a Canadian turned Kiwi professional dental hygienist who stayed with us. Oral hygiene is often overlooked by sports people who put a greater demand on their bodies. Read the article to find out how oral hygiene can impact your sporting performance.

'Feed a fever', published in Cycling Weekly is based on our own experiences of cycling with hayfever and how we overcame it.

To read either of the articles in full, click on the image to maximize its size.

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Skyrunning World Championships 2012

The SkyGames® and the Skyrunning World Championships, are held every 4 years. This year the Games will be held from June 29 to July 8 in the Ribagorza Románica, an area on the Spanish side of the Pyrenees but still accessible by car from Velo Pyrenees.

The SkyGames® were previously held in Italy (twice) and Andorra and is an event promoted by the International Federation of Skyrunning (ISF). This requires that the competitions must be held in a mountain scenery located at a minimum of 2,000 metres altitude.

During this week of competition, there will be a total of 6 tests: SkyMarathon, a 42km endurance race; SkyRace, 21km mountain race; SkyBike, a high mountain duathlon (14km run, 10km mtb and 10km run); KmVertical, a rapidly ascending race of 1,000m of elevation gain; SkySpeed, screening test gear in just 200 meters, and SkyRaid, a multi-disciplinary test designed only for athletes of national teams.

The competition will bring together the world leading specialists in each discipline. More than one hundred thousand athletes and elite athletes representing a total of 25 nations will gather in this competition which is a reflection of the spectacle of mountain sports in height.

Go to link www.ocisport.net/skygames
Transpyrenees Receives the Rando d'Or Accolade
Rando D'Or logo

The 12th edition of the Transpyrenees (XC mountain bike race) takes place on 2nd September 2012 and will be a very special one for Lee's club, Cap Vert VTT. The FFC (Federation Francaise de Cyclisme) has awarded the race the title Rando d'Or (Rando of gold), making it one of only 14 MTB events with such a label in the whole of France.

The Rando d'Or is only granted to the most beautiful events in France with high quality off-road circuits which have been consistently improved every year and are excellently organised.

Organised by local club Cap Vert VTT, its members are deservedly proud with the news. President of the club Lucien Nicholas stated:

"We are rewarded for our efforts since the early days, with the volunteers and the support of local communities. Our territory of the Pyrenean foothills, the Comminges area, will provide a beautiful exhibition at the national level."

The event will now benefit from national media coverage provided by the Federation, the club hopes to gain participants and a large audience from across France. For further information on this event, please go to our events page.

Velo Pyrenees Chickens in Self Sufficiency Magazines
Flock Fascination Article

Egg Article

Food, cycling and running are subjects that are close to our hearts. Living in France, It would be hard to ignore their renowned food culture, not that we would want to! It is an essential part of our everyday lives and key to a good lifestyle (healthy body, healthy mind) and performance in sport.

Julie is a regular contributor to several magazines on the subjects of gardening, poultry and self-sufficiency.

The Velo Pyrenees chickens have made it into print with a three-page spread about the social behaviours of chickens based on our experience. The article was recently published in a dedicated poultry magazine with accompanying photographs of our boys and girls. The same magazine published an article about the different shades of yellow and orange found in egg yolks. The girls obliged by providing their normal vivid orange yolks for us to photograph, proving that their free-range lives, eating plenty of grass, bugs and worms really does coin the phrase 'you are what you eat.'

There are other articles that are in the publication pipeline, including a health article on hay fever which will be published shortly in a UK national cycling magazine.

A Beautiful Start to the Season - St Raphael Coupe de France VTT
Julien Absalon World Champion

For 2011 there are four events making up the Coupe de France VTT cross country. We went along to the first one held in St Raphael on 3rd April. The weather was superb with tempreatures touching 30 degrees, providing the perfect excuse to sample some real italian ice cream whilst enjoying the backdrop of a rugged coastline, sporadically dotted with sandy coves.

The race course was first class, very fast with 90% single tracks, mostly dry with plenty of rocks and regular technical sections. Despite holding regional titles, the organisers considered Lee an 'unknown' and allocated him a position at the rear of the start line. Having to battle through the 250 strong field, Lee took what opportunities he had to overtake on the tight course, with each lap getting closer to the leader. Lee finished 19th overall and 13th in his category - not fully content but hungry for more and looking forward to the next French Cup race in May.

In the pro category, the race was led out by current European Champion Marco Fontana (Italy), closely shadowed by current World Champion Julien Absalon (France). The race was interesting with the two main contenders swapping positions for the first half of the race. Marco is a powerful rider but in the second half Julien began to dominate the lead to a clear victory. It was great to see the Italian give it a go from the very start and challenge the world champion. On the finish line Marco and Julien shook hands and exchanged some comments about the race. In the post race interview Julien declared that Marco pushed him and he enjoyed the battle, whilst Marco was content and said he was happy with the result stating that 2nd is still a respectable positon.

New Nature Trail in the Barousse Valley
Nature trail at Sarp

The community of Sarp at the entrance to the Barousse valley has created an exciting new nature trail that is open to everyone. The trail is well signposted with information boards about the flora and fauna it passes. Discover the 'jardin des traces' where there are information points and plaster casts of animal foot prints and a herb garden.

There are several view points along the trail: the romanesque church of St Just; the medieval hill-top town of St-Bertrand-de-Comminges and an impressive view overlooking the Barousse valley, where a 'table d'orientation' with an engraved painting on rock detailing the peaks and villages before you. Picnic areas have been created at the departure point and within the shade of trees along the trail. This is a perfect choice for an easy walk after exploring or training in the higher mountains.

At the start of the trail there is a natural rock climbing wall with information and bolted routes (8 routes of grade 4 to 5C - ideal for young children). It is possible to join in with an organised guide who will provide all the necessary climbing equipment.

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Lee becomes Champion of Haute Garonne 2010

During the season of 2009, Lee made a conscious decision to focus on racing X-country mountain biking. Not only is the Pyrenees a superb place to cycle on the road but also off-road, whether at high altitudes or in the deeply wooded valleys below. On the 12th September Lee became the champion of the department Haute Garonne at the X-country race of St-Aventin/ Oô.

12th September St Aventin/ Lac d'Oô race report

The race departs from the village of St Aventin, positioned half way up the Col de Peyresourde and climbs most of the 16.5km to the finish line at Lac d'Oô at an altitude of 1,506m.

The weather was perfect in the mountains of my penultimate race of the year (to complete the Midi-Pyrenees cup series). My preparation was not ideal, one week hiking the "Carros de Foc" (about 70km at an average altitude of 2,500m), followed by a cold, and then it was time for a few specifically hard sessions before taper training for Trophee de Lac d'Oô!
 
On the morning, I had a good start and moments later on the first hill, I sprinted to lead the race. I maintained this position for the first quarter, splitting up the field of competitors to leave only five of us in the front group. Before the descent to the village of Oô positions changed in the peloton with Rémi Laffont, Emmanuel Cibat and Nicolas Bonnieu sharing the workload on the front.

When we reached the Granges of Astau, for me the race had been concluded as the positions were unlikely to change despite only 10 second gaps. This section of the race is the most interesting and challenging. The Granges of Astau sit at the foot of the final ascent to Lac d'Oô and we climbed on a popular hiking trail that is also part of the famous GR10, with all the rocks and switchbacks you would expect. I finished in 5th place, 0:19 seconds behind Charlelie Cantaloube 2:21 behind the winner (Nicolas Bonnieu).

  Lee leading from the start line

It was a great result and I am very happy to finish 5th Scratch, but 2nd in the master 1 category and also the champion of Haute Garonne 2010.  

Congratulations to my team mate Nico for his effort to finish second in the Cadets.

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British Airways & Bike Boxes: New Policy

British Airways, currently one of the few airlines not to charge for the carriage of bike boxes, will implement changes to their Baggage Policy which take effect from 7th October. From this date, sporting equipment will still be included as part of your free checked baggage allowance, as long as the following criteria are met:

  • Your bike box is the only hold luggage that you check-in;
  • The weight of the bike box is less than 23kg and
  • The dimensions of your bike box do not exceed the new reduced maximum
    dimensions of 190cm x 75cm x 65cm (75in x 29.5in x 25.5in).

 

The crucial dimension is the height (75cm) of the box which appears to be less than the height of the majority of bike boxes currently manufactured.

If you wish to check-in another bag for the hold, you will be charged the excess baggage rate for each additional bag.

If your bike box weighs more than 23kg but is less than or equal to 32kg, you will be charged £30 per flight at check-in.

If you fly with BA, we recommend that you check your bike box dimensions and weight carefully to avoid incurring an additional £60 excess baggage fee when you arrive at the airport.

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