- 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 home to a home cooked feast every evening, freshly prepared by your coach’s wife, Toni
- Sampling the delicious local wines of the region
I learned an awful lot and Dave is very patient! The accommodation was amazing – full of character. We really felt like a part of the family for the week. Worth going for Toni’s cooking alone!
- Meals: Dinner
On arrival at the airport in Carcassonne, we will be greeted by our training coach for the week, who will transfer us 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 unpacked and settled into our rooms we will gather together for our first evening meal of the week. Here we will have our first taste of the healthy, tasty training food made from local produce and prepared daily by our very own trained chef. 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 and chat about what might be in store for us in the week ahead.
- Meals: Breakfast, dinner
After a hearty breakfast, our coach will spend time with us 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 these French roads!
Our first ride will be an opportunity to see how to ride within the zones described in our training plans – for example a 2 hour ride in zone 3, developing our 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 with us the reasons behind the type of training we have covered, what systems the training develops, and how, when and why we would incorporate this type of training into our annual training plans. 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 Pyrenees Fitness Week, as we will enjoy a medium paced 100km plus ride from our base at Chalabre to the summit of a Cat 2 climb, such as Col de Port for example. 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 our 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 chat through the finer points of descending a col. We will then descend before using the return leg to Chalabre to spin the legs in zone 2 and recover from climbing your 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 our day’s achievements out in the Pyrenees.
- 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 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
As in Le Tour, a rest day is usually followed by what is referred to as a ‘selection’ stage. This is where the true contenders for the overall classification show their hand. For us, it will be a chance to ascend an ‘Hors Catégorie’ (beyond categorisation) climb.
Today’s ride will allow us to work on our power and recovery, as we climb our col, group size allowing, riders will be shown how to take it in turns to attack in short, sharp bursts off the front at high intensity exertion and then allow the group to swallow them back up. 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 attack out of them before returning to the tuck position.
- Meals: Breakfast, dinner
Today we will have an opportunity to put into practice all the training methods we have learned so far and our final big day in the Midi-Pyrenees. Leaving our base at Chalabre, we will head out at a medium pace, past meadows and lakes before contending a light-hearted sprint. With the fun and games over, the serious business of tackling a col or two begins. Descending the other side will be the opportunity to use the knowledge and techniques from the previous day.
We will then ride our final climb as if we are setting the pace at the front of the peleton, attempting to drop all our nearest rivals, riding in zone 5, with the final km of the climb to be ridden as close to the maximum (or zone 6) as is sustainable. Once at the top, we will have time to eat, drink and recover, before being taken 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 weeks training sessions out of the legs and kick start our body’s adaptation and recovery processes. After our exertion on all of the climbs we’ve been treated to, we will be offered a leisurely recovery ride over some of the less challenging roads on offer in the Aude Departement. 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 our 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
Distances between 50-75 miles / 80-120km per day
For more regular riders who like to push themselves a little from time to time
Not extreme but certainly challenging on occasions with some good climbing opportunities
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 an enthusiast. Road cycling is probably your main hobby and you ride regularly at weekends, staying on the bike for much of the day. You’re in pretty good shape, and you might also participate in cylo-sportive events. You also love a challenge and are looking for a tour with some good climbing, preferably with an opportunity to tick off some famous Tour de France cols, or the like. You’re a competent descender, and you’re not afraid of speed, but you ride safely and within your limits at all times. You understand road etiquette and you’re comfortable riding in a bunch. You might even take a stint at the front of the pack if the need arises.
Dave was a great leader with lots of knowledge and experience. His enjoyment and enthusiasm rubbed off on everyone!
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.
Sarah, Geneva, SwitzerlandEvery day was fabulous...
Dave was simply fantastic – able to assess the group, provide a great experience for riders at different levels, make every activity fun, deliver a personalised and memorable week filled also with lots of information and history about the area. And Toni kept us so well fed and generally pampered. They work together to create a wonderful atmosphere and all round perfect holiday. Cannot suggest anything to improve – even the weather was perfect.
Paul, Hertfordshire, UKQuite simply excellent!
I thoroughly enjoyed my cycling trip which was quite simply excellent. I wanted to be challenged and start getting into training for the year. Dave and Alexis were brilliant at providing the challenge that I was seeking while providing me with sound advice and making every day fun. There was a great welcoming atmosphere supported by Toni’s excellent cooking and feeling that you were welcomed into the family as well as being on holiday. Every day was different and fun with many new cycle routes and challenges to keep me entertained. As a result the holiday went very quickly. I was impressed when I rang up and found that all your representatives knew about the holiday and clearly work as a team. I thought that you were also very open about what to expect and were genuinely trying to ensure that the holiday would suit my needs rather than trying to make a sale. Thank you.
Steve, Rhondda Cynon Taff, UKA great fitness camp...
Everything was excellent! A great fitness camp. I’ve never worked so hard on a bike and was challenged every day. Certainly seems to have paid off though – ten Strava personal bests on a route with which I am very familiar when I got back! Great refreshments during the rides – drinks with cake, biscuits etc available at the end of each ride. Toni provided a great meal every evening, managing to cater to people’s varying dietary requirements.
Chris, London, UKVery good...
I think this trip is excellent value, especially bearing in mind the quality of the food and the liberal supply of (good) wine. Toni is a real star and it was an honour to be allowed to share her and Dave’s home. Wonderful hosts!
Jess, Cardiff, UKExcellent!
The food was restaurant standard everyday. It was of the highest quality couldn’t have asked for better training food. The training was specifically tailored to everyone’s needs identifying strengths and weaknesses and working on them.
Mark, Torquay, UKEverything I wanted and more...
The food was of the highest quality and varied. Toni is an excellent chef. They created a lovely relaxed atmosphere at mealtimes, very homely and welcoming. Our group was mixed ability and Dave catered for everyone’s speciality. He gave good advice and encouragement/incentives when needed.
Stephen, Hampshire, UKDave will test everybody's lactate threshold during the week...
Dave is a really super cycling coach who made every ride into a challenging and fun event…..just what we were looking for. His knowledge and explanations of cycling training and fitness were very useful too. He has given us lots of useful tips to think about.
Victoria, London, UKThe food far exceeded expectations...
The food – home cooked by Toni – far exceeded expectations in quality and quantity. We were thoroughly spoiled. A great cook , using fantastic local ingredients. Tea and home made cake awaiting us after every ride was a real treat. Our guide Dave was a very knowledgable and experienced cyclist with a great sense of humour. He was able to adapt the programme to the group and to the weather. He pushed us to achieve, but not too hard!
Emma, London, UKIt exceeded my expectation...
It exceeded my expectation, notwithstanding the dreadful weather. I learnt an awful lot (about riding and bike maintenance) and Dave is very patient! The accommodation was amazing – full of character. We really felt like a part of the family for the week. Worth going for Toni’s cooking alone!