- Spending your week in a period 16th century French house
- Training on many of the climbs often used in Le Tour de France
- Personalised training regime to suit your individual requirements by a ABBC qualified coach
- Cycling through traffic free rolling countryside, experiencing the beauty and tranquility of rural France
- Coming back to a home cooked feast every evening, freshly prepared by your coach’s wife, Toni.
- Sampling the delicious local wines of the region
Dave taught us more about our fitness and cycling skills in one week than I had learnt in years. And Toni’s cooking is just to die for!
- Meals: Dinner
On arrival at the airport in Carcassonne, you will be greeted by your training coach for the week, who will transfer you to his period 16th century house in Chalabre, The house is full of quirky nooks and crannies and is in fact a converted shoe factory. Once we’ve all unpacked and settled into our rooms we will get together for our first evening meal of the week. Here we will have our first taste of the healthy, tasty food made from local produce and prepared daily by your very own trained chef. Over dinner we can have an informal chat about what individuals would like from the coming week, often skills like how to improve climbing and descending or maybe goals for the coming months, any areas of weakness etc. We will also have the opportunity to enjoy a glass or two of locally produced Midi-Pyrenees region wine, and a chance to get to know each other.
- Meals: Breakfast, dinner
After a hearty breakfast, your coach will spend time showing us how to put together a specific and targeted yearly training plan, and how to break this down into monthly and weekly periods. Each training plan is designed with personal goals, targets, weaknesses and limiters in mind, with a view to demonstrating over the week how to put these training sessions into action.
Once the finer points of creating an annual training plan have been discussed, and how periodisation works, it will be time for our first taste of French roads!
Our first ride will be an opportunity to see how to ride within the zones described in the training plan – for example a 2 hour ride in zone 3, developing aerobic capacity and endurance, followed by a 1 hour ride in zone 2 for recovery and base training.
At the end of every day our coach will discuss the reasons behind the type of training we have covered, what systems the training develops, and how, when and why to incorporate this type of training into an annual training plan. We will also be told how to recover, how to test for results and what results to expect.
- Meals: Breakfast, dinner
Our second day in the saddle represents the first real challenge of our Pyrénées Fitness Week, as we will enjoy a medium paced ride from our base at Chalabre to the summit of a moderately challenging climb, such as Col de Port. This ride will allow us to get used to spending long periods of time climbing in the saddle using moderate exertion, and a chance for our coach to advise us on the selection of gears, climbing technique and bike position.
At the summit of the climb there will be a short break for food and drink, and to discuss the finer points of descending a col. We will then descend the col before using the return leg to Chalabre to spin the legs in zone 2 and recover from climbing our first French col of the week. Once back at Chalabre, we will deservedly tuck into our delicious home cooked dinner, basking in the glory of the day’s achievements out in the Pyrénées.
- Meals: Breakfast, dinner
With any training plan, recovery is just as important as the training itself, as it gives the body an opportunity to adapt, replenish energy stores, flush out the lactic acid and repair damaged tissues. Without recovery, there can be no further training without risking illness or over training. With this in mind, we will enjoy a gentle paced recovery ride at an easy pace to, for example, the historic town of Carcassonne. This will give us an opportunity to take a more relaxed look at the vast and varied French countryside, and just enjoy being out on the bike. At Carcassonne we will have the opportunity to take in the beauty of this fortified town, sample local cuisine and tradition, before heading back to our base at Chalabre where we can relax and prepare ourselves mentally for the challenges that lay ahead for the rest of the week.
- Meals: Breakfast, dinner
Today we have a transfer out to a tougher ‘Hors Categorie’ climb – Plateau de Beille, for example. At just under 16km long, the climb is 1,255m with an average gradient of 7.9%, reaching a maximum of 10.8%. Don’t be put off by the statistics. At a regular pace the climb is completely manageable.
Today’s ride will allow us to work on our power and recovery, as we climb the col, group size allowing, riders will be shown how to take their turn on the front with sharp bursts of high exertion and then allowing the group to swallow them back up, and have a ‘rest’ at the back. Whilst riding in the group, we will be riding at medium to moderate exertion level. We will take time to work on climbing position, pedalling technique, how to accelerate out of the saddle on a climb, and how to recover in the group.
After a fuel break at the summit we will descend the mountain, with the intention of improving our technical ability and develop our descending skills, learning how to tuck into the aero position, brake for the corners, and then to accelerate out of them before returning to the tuck position. With an Hors Cat climb under our belts we head back to Chalabre in the support vehicle.
- Meals: Breakfast, dinner
For our final big day in the Pyrenees we will head up yet another col. Leaving our base we will head out to on flat roads, past meadows and lakes, before heading towards the foothills where the climbing begins. With the fun and games over, the serious business of tackling a Cat 2, such as Col du Portel begins. As we climb we will ride the first part in zone 4, allowing us to concentrate on climbing technique, position, and pace.
After getting used to the steady uphill rhythm it is time to shake it up a bit and we will ride the final part of our climb as if we are setting the pace at the front of the peleton, attempting to drop our nearest rivals, riding in zone 5, and with the final km to be ridden as close to your maximum effort (or zone 6) as is sustainable. Once at the top, we will have time to eat, drink and recover, before heading back to our base at Chalabre.
- Meals: Breakfast, dinner
Similar to riding day 3, today will be an opportunity for us to spin the effects of the week’s training sessions out of our legs and kick start the body’s adaptation and recovery processes. After our exertion on all of the climbs we’ve treated ourselves to, we will be offered a leisurely recovery ride over some of the less challenging roads on offer in the Aude department. It will give us an opportunity to truly enjoy the picturesque French countryside without having to focus so much on the training specific elements of our trip, and also a chance to talk with our coach on the road about the finer points of the training sessions and techniques we have covered during your Pyrenees Fitness Week.
We will once again make a stop to sample some of the local cuisine and enjoy a glass of locally produced red wine before heading back to our base at Chalabre for an opportunity to wind down after our week of training, and sadly, start packing for our return home.
Riding in the French Pyrenees is not without its challenges. Depending on group requirements our routes may include a number of significant cols and a fair amount of climbing, with steep and challenging sections. Road surfaces are generally good, however caution should be exercised, especially when descending, as occasional potholes and gravel patches do occur. Descents are as frequent and as long as the ascents and many feature tight bends and switchbacks.
Road Cycling Grade
Average distances around 70-90 km with occasional challenging climbs
A moderately difficult tour somewhere slightly tougher than a Grade 2, but not as difficult as Grade 3
Some long days and significant climbs
Our grading guidelines have been carefully created based on our many years of cycling experience, as well as customer feedback from our trips. Of course, if you're still struggling to figure out where you fit on the scale, do feel free to give us a quick call and we'll be more than happy to help!
For more information about our grading system click here.
Is this suitable for you?
You’re reasonably fit and ride frequently at weekends, sometimes staying on the bike for a number of hours at a time. You do enjoy an occasional challenge and quite happy climbing but you‘re unlikely to be found daydreaming about ticking off all the famous cols of the Tour de France. That said the prospect of tackling a semi-serious to serious mountain pass doesn’t fill you with dread. You enjoy the social aspect of cycling and look forward to the occasional coffee-stop as much as the riding itself. You have good control of your bike and feel confident in your skills to ascend and descend safely. Whilst you find a full day in the saddle fulfilling, you’re not obsessed and as much as you are looking forward to the riding on your holiday, you’re also looking forward to a little local culture and cuisine. Grade 2-3 would be a good option for you.
Almost every day I felt that I had achieved more than I could have hoped for!
Dates & Prices
Are you keen to only travel with your family or friends? Struggling to find the right date? Well, we can organise a private departure for this tour and tailor aspects to suit your group's specific needs. Contact our friendly team and we'll help you turn your dream into reality.
A) Accommodation (shared twin/double rooms)
B) Meals as per the itinerary (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
C) Unless stated, at least one leader qualified in First Aid
D) Assistance in establishing fitness goals and help with building training plans
E) Nutritional guidance, on and off the bike
F) Individual fitness assessment and coaching advice
G) Airport transfer on scheduled arrival day from Carcassonne airport (CCF)
H) Airport transfer on scheduled departure day to Carcassonne airport (CCF)
What's not Included
A) Bike hire (available if required)
B) Flights and charges for travelling with your bike (if applicable)
C) Meals not stated in the itinerary
D) Single room (available if required)
E) Travel insurance
F) Personal clothing and equipment
G) Personal expenditure (souvenirs, bar bills etc)
H) Entrance fees to museums and other attractions en-route
I) Airport transfers on days other than the scheduled arrival / departure days
9 things about cycling in France...
Not only is it home to world-class cuisine and some of the most beautiful landscapes, it’s also the spiritual home of cycling...
5 tips for descending
What goes up must come down! If you’ve conquered that big hill it is time to enjoy the reward...
Mind hacks to help you up hills
Easy mental strategies that will help you learn how to love hills!
The Times (2019), Where to get fit on holidayAs seen in the press...
Making use of gruelling Tour de France climbs, Saddle Skedaddle’s Pyrenees Fitness Weeks are designed to get participants in peak cycling shape. Based in a 16th-century house within the medieval village of Chalabre, you’ll be given a custom-made programme pairing spectacular rides with instruction from a member of the Association of British Cycling Coaches.
It was an experience of a lifetime. I loved it so much!! It changed my entire being. Toni’s feasts were sublime. Each day was bliss, and everything I learned (which was, basically, let’s face it, EVERYTHING necessary to the task), was useful and a building block for the next day. Dave is a genius, and I use that word sparingly because I think there aren’t very many of them in the world, but he is one of them.
Phil, NottinghamAll rides well thought out for the range of abilities and strength across the group.
Dave and Toni worked very well together as a team. The accommodation is a bit eccentric but perfectly comfortable and much better than a soulless hotel. Yoga room and turbo dungeon both fine. Toni’s meals were excellent, variety, good quality and lots of it and in the evenings, convivial with beers and wine. Dave had a light touch but controlled and encouraged the rides very well.
Toni and Dave’s accommodation was more like a warmly hospitable home stay than anything else in their unique old property with all kinds of unexpected quirks, style and taxidermy. The morning yoga in the loft was a perfect way to start the day. Toni is a wonderful chef, thank you for all the delicious meals in a great sociable atmosphere. This was my first holiday without the rest of my family in at least 16 years, taken at the suggestion of my friend who is an old hand with Saddle Skedaddle. It was fantastic and well worth abandoning the husband and teenagers for a week. The company of the other cyclists and the hospitality, coaching and laughs with Toni and Dave made for a brilliant, memorable week. Thank you.
Julian, East SussexThe accommodation and hospitality were first class.
The holiday comprised of a lot of cycling, aided by a brilliant coach. The food every morning and night was a mix of superior home cooking and excellent international dishes with plenty of choice. The accommodation and hospitality were first class. The lunches were always outside, the breakfast and dinners provided were excellent without exception. My favourite day was Saturday, because I climbed a hill that I couldn’t manage on Monday! The service I got probably improved my cycling by 60% in six days. I cannot recommend the tour leaders coaching skills highly enough!
Christine, BirminghamI am now telling all my friends!
What a fantastic week it was – just the best! Very friendly group, gorgeous cycling country. The guides made us feel so welcome. I’ll be back with Skedaddle in the New Year. Thank you for all your help and advice with the arrangements.
Julie, LondonI'll be back!
Every day was fab! I’ve never laughed so much in a week!! Thanks to our Tour leader, Dave!! Accommodation was rustic but friendly, warm, welcoming and fun. Toni is just the best, restaurant standard plus refreshments every day, how does she do it?
Mandy, Derbyshire, UKExcellent!
An excellent holiday and excellent service – range of refreshments – chocolate, bars, gels, electrolyte and protein drinks readily available. Cake, biscuits, snacks provided immediately post ride also. Dinner – all meals served by Toni were great, just what cyclists need after a long day on the bike.
Richard, ArizonaEvery day had its own attractions
Excellent cycling with an excellent Tour Leader in David. And Toni is a magician. She prepared truly astounding meals that I enjoyed thoroughly without exception. I would seriously consider joining another Skedaddle holiday.
Gille, Isle of WightExcellent...
Thank you again for such a happy week of cycling eating and laughter. We have done many many Skedaddle trips and this certainly was up there with the best. We appreciated all the little tips, just have to concentrate now on my husbands balance!