We grade our Tours for effort and for the amount of climb in a day. You need to look at the two together to decide if the tour is suitable for you. Remember that climbs in the Alps and the Pyrenees go on for a very long way! Your bike needs to be suitably geared.
E2: Easy days in the saddle. Usually no more than 50 km with frequent stops for photos and drinks. Usually a leisurely lunch and time at the end of the day for sight-seeing.
E3: Moderate days in the saddle. 50 to 70 Km per day. Still plenty of time for photos and drink stops. The faster amongst you will have plenty of time for sight-seeing. Still not a hard day for seasoned riders.
E4: 70 Km + per day. Days can be up to 120 Km but are mostly under 100 Km. These tours are the preserve of experienced cycle tourers who are used to the challenge of riding day after day, enjoying the scenery but with the determination to get to the overnight stop. Some hard days for a seasoned rider.
A1: Up to 200m per day. Almost flat. Terrain typical of the Fens and parts of Cheshire.
A2: 200 to 1000 m climb per day. Typical of Normandy and much of the Loire and Lot Valleys. Crossing the Massif Central and the limestone gorges of Southern France. Usually not steep, but longer steady climbs.
A3: 500 – 2000 m climb per day. The preserve of the keen mountain climber. Typical of the Alpine passes and the Pyrenees. Some steep sections of up to 17% are possible. These are on supported trips so they are done on a ‘sporty bike’. However, most modern sporty bikes are seriously over geared for alpine or typical Tour de France climbs. These climbs are a challenge when combined with a long day in the saddle!
Alpine, Pyrenees and Mountain Rides
What goes up, inevitably comes down! Often fast and steep. Some descents in the Alps and the Pyrenees are tricky (tight steep bends, poor road surfaces) and long. As an example the descent from the Bonette and the Iseran are both very twisting and steep in parts. They go on for a long way. 30 Km is not unusual – it’s a long way to be on your limit if you are not happy with difficult descents. On the other hand, not pedalling for 40 Km and going fast is enjoyable for many of us. But over confidence too can be a killer.