Planning a cycle tour is exciting, and it’s always nice to know you have a holiday in the pipeline - otherwise there’s a danger that work can become all stick and no carrot.
It will have been two years since my last tour, when 5 of us followed the historic Route des Grandes Alpes. That tour took us due south from Geneva through the high French Alps leaving the Swiss Alps and Italian Dolomites unexplored and perfect for another trip. And this is it.
For this tour, we’ll be flying out to Venice and riding more than 1000 km west to Geneva over the Dolomites, Eastern Alps and Swiss Alps. The route is partly inspired by Mike Cotty’s heroic non-stop effort from 2014 (watch the YouTube movie if you haven’t before, it’s amazing).
We're planning to take a bit longer than Mike’s 50-hour epic and have given ourselves just over a week to complete a similar route that takes in 21 mountains: Passo San Boldo, Forcella Franche, Passo Duran, Forcella Staulanza, Passo di Falzarego, Passo di Giau, Passo di Pordoi, Passo di Costalunga, Passo dello Stelvio, Passo di Gavia, Passo dell'Aprica, Bernina Pass, Maloja Pass, Splügen Pass, San Bernardino Pass, Lukmanier Pass, Oberalp Pass, Gottard Pass, Nufenen Pass, Col de la Forclaz, and Col des Montets.
We toyed with the idea of doing this one on vintage steel bikes, but it looks like we'll be on racing bikes again, with ultralight minimal packing. This means one set of Shutt's finest Lycra (which gets washed each day in hotel sinks), a change of clothes for the evenings, and some cold weather emergency stuff. It can turn nasty on the high passes and you need to be prepared. Add to this; toiletries, sun-cream, phone, and a few tools and that’s your lot… a true credit card tour.
We booked our flights last month (they’re better value this far in advance) and will probably book a hotel for the first night too. After that, we don’t know how far we’ll manage each day so plan to find hotels en-route. This isn’t usually a problem in June. It’s not high season and reasonable hotels are plentiful and good value in the Alps.
Keep an eye on the Shutt blog in June 2017 to read about how we got on.