How does one go about selecting a Cycling Tour?
We find that our guests often begin by joining us on a tour such as the Giro d’Italia where the professional race atmosphere is a key focus. For future holidays some guests move across to the other tour types where their interests shift to wanting more time cycling and time to explore the European regions during the afternoons. In summary, our guided European cycling tours follow different styles including:
Grand Tours: those which follow the professional races (Spring Classics, Giro d’Italia, Tour de France or La Vuelta)
Explorer Tours: those which ride all the iconic cycling destinations but away from the professional races (French Alpes, Dolomites, Pyrenees or Slovenia)
Gran Fondo Tours: those which also include a gran fondo/sportive ride into the tour program (For example: Tour of Flanders, Paris Roubaix, l’Eroica or Quebrantahuesos)
What are the typical characteristics of a tour group?
Sierra Sports & Tours is based in Spain but its roots are from Melbourne, Australia. As such, 90% of our guests are from Australia and New Zealand. The typical age profile of a Sierra guest is between 45 to 65 years old. We have many couples joining our tours so the current male to female ratio is about 60-40%. Non-cyclists do join our tours and typically account for about 15% of our clientele.
Are non-cyclists welcome on the tours?
Yes! Non-cyclists receive a discount and can join the group in the support van or visit the towns where we are based. If they would like us to prepare special excursions we have experience organising local cooking classes, guided hikes, leisure bike rides, etc. For road cyclists who are keen to join but are unsure about the big mountains we also have a fleet of electric road bikes that we can make available when things get a little more challenging.
Should I bring my own bike or hire a bike?
For many clients this generally comes down to what their pre- and post-tour travel plans look like. For guests who are travelling solely for the cycling tour we find many will bring their own bike. International airlines, such as, Emirates and Qatar provide a 32kg luggage allowance which is more than enough. For guests though with several other domestic European flights or train connections they might find it easier and cheaper to select a hire bike.
For clients attending the Spring Classics we find most select hire bikes as we have them fitted with 28mm wide tyres, double handlebar tape, etc so there is already some extra comfort built-in!
What does a guided cycling tour include?
Tours to the public generally range between 8 to 10 days. We like to spend 2 to 3 night stays in each location to provide a relaxed setting and to have time to explore each township. All of the guided tours also have at least one support van on-hand carrying your day packs, food and drink, spare bikes, parts and wheels, tool kits, etc. The Sierra guides all speak English but also have additional languages including Spanish, French and Italian. All of the accommodation and breakfasts are included. We like to select hotels with local charm, which are family owned and are welcoming to cycling tourists.
About half of the dinners with beer and wine are also included. We find it is also great for clients to have the chance to explore for themselves during the free evenings. Most of the start and finish locations are international airports and all of these transfers are also included in the tour price. For each tour we also have a commemorative cycling jersey which among other cycling related gifts is presented during the tour briefing.
And most importantly you, receive our professionally guided cycling routes following breathtaking scenery on roads away from major traffic to maximise your enjoyment and safety!
How are the tour rides organized?
Our groups are limited to 15 clients which typically means 1 Sierra guide for every 5 guests. This excellent guide to guest ratio provides flexibility and also means we are always thinking about what’s best for the group at hand. So on any given day the planned ride will also have multiple options available to suit those looking for some more or less cycling! Have a talk to our tour leader to go over the possibilities that are available.
There is always 1 Sierra guide leading a ride and either a sweeping guide or support van near the rear to help you with any mechanical, food/drink or clothing requirements. If the support van is not at the rear it will be close-by! Cycling on the flats (25-30km/hr) keeps the group together and then you are free to ride the climbs at your own speed. Your ride leader will let you know when you can ride as hard as you like and when we should keep together as a group.
How do you accommodate varying riding abilities?
It is true that we encounter cyclists of all types; those who love to stop to take photographs through to those who want to ride fast and hard. The first thing to consider here is that everything we do is driven by a spirit of adventure, mutual respect and safety.
We ride together on the flats to keep the group together. This is important for directions and safety. As a guide we like to maintain a minimum speed of 25km/hr on the flats.
Throughout the tour we also provide longer and shorter ride options. If you are a dedicated cyclist, our guides are happy to take you out for some extra kilometres or to show you up another climb out the back of the hotel!
We also offer another form of assistance: electric road bikes. This option can help you ride longer distances, tackle big climbs and maintain a faster pace. The only thing to consider here is that you still need to have prior experience and feel comfortable and safe riding a road bike.
As mentioned earlier, our guides will let you know when you can ride as hard as you like and when we should keep together as a group. If your idea is to ride hard 100% of the time and every day then we suggest you get a group of cycling friends together with a similar ability and ask us to prepare a private group cycling tour.
What is the best way to physically prepare/train for the tour?
Ride! Many guests are initially unsure if they have what it takes to join a cycling tour. Being consistent is the main thing! Get in a longer ride on the weekend but keep up some spinning during the week (a few 45 minute indoor sessions will put you in good stead). Also consider getting away pre-tour for a long weekend ride in the mountains to start preparing for Europe. A guided cycling tour involves consecutive days on the bike so in the month or two leading up to the tour try to replicate this in your riding!
Are group discounts available?
Yes. There are discounts for group bookings with a starting 5% discount for a minimum group of 4. Please let us know your group size though and we would be pleased to look at providing your group a special offer!
Is it possible to organise a private cycling tour?
Every year Sierra Sports & Tours conducts a number of private cycling tours so if you have a group of 6 or more why not ask us to design your very own customised European cycling tour. Our team of guides have over 10 years experience cycling through Europe. We have set off on 100’s of cycling adventures (both personal and work focused) through Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, Norway, Slovenia, Belgium, Holland, Denmark, Sweden, Austria & Germany. Having our permanent base in southern Spain with 300 days of sunshine a year means we always ready to ride no matter what the season!
Can you also help with our international travel bookings?
We have been in partnership with Pellegrino Travel Agency in Melbourne since 2010. If you need any assistance with your flights and/or personal travel insurance we will happily introduce you to Fausta and her team. If you like to plan ahead then be sure to look at the European early bird flight specials which always finish around late October / early November every year. Through our association with Pellegrino Travel Agency we often secure European flights for our guests between $AUD 1300-1500.
When it comes to pre and post tour planning we also have considerable experience helping our clients with additional travel suggestions, logistics, bike hire, hotel recommendations/bookings, planning self-guided bike routes with GPX files and maps …. Feel free to let us know your plans and we will be happy to provide you with some extra options!
If I sign-up, is the tour guaranteed to proceed?
We have been running cycling tours since 2011 and are yet to cancel a tour. With nearly 75 European cycling adventures under our belts we are very proud of this fact! If a tour only has 1-3 guests an additional supplement may be required to run the tour.
How do you cater for special dietary requirements?
We ask you to provide any special dietary requirements on our Booking Form. With this information we communicate your restrictions, allergies and preferences to all our external service providers (i.e. restaurants, hotels, cooking classes and other culinary related excursions).
How do I reserve my place on tour?
Look for the ‘Book Now’ button on our webpage. Visit the page of your selected tour and simply click Book Now. Once you have submitted your reservation we will contact you to confirm availability and to finalise your booking details.
We require a 25% tour deposit at the time of booking. If your booking is made within 90 days of the trip date, full payment will be due at the time of booking.
What is the Single Supplement?
Our cycling tours are priced based on twin/double occupancy. A Single Supplement is an additional charge that secures a private room for individual travellers. If you are travelling alone but would prefer to share please notify us and we will do our best to match you up. Although we cannot guarantee a match, we will make every effort to pair you with another individual traveller in order to avoid the Single Supplement charge.
What if I need to cancel or change my trip?
We recommend you take out cancellation insurance at the time of making your tour booking. Please refer to our Terms & Conditions for our cancellation policy details.