Basque Country B-Roads: Adventure Cycling in the Borderlands of France and Spain
Type of Tour: Steep, Narrow, Bumpy, Beautiful. a treat for those that love pushing themselves on the bike but being rewarded with amazing views and a great local meal.
Best Bike: Adventure Road with large slicks, Road Bike with at least 28c tires.
Custom Dates Available: May 2020 & August 2020
Start: Biarritz End: Biarritz
5 DAYS/6 NIGHTS – FULLY SUPPORTED 3000€ Deposit of 400€ LIMITED SPACE
7 DAYS/8 NIGHTS – FULLY SUPPORTED 3500€ Deposit of 500€ LIMITED SPACE
7-day: August 1-8, 2020 ** 5-day: October 12-17, 2020
(Custom Dates with a minimum of 2 riders, including Women’s Only)
tell me more!
What is a B-road? It could mean paved (barely). It might mean a stretch of gravel. It almost always means narrow, quiet and nearly forgotten. It frequently means bumpy, rough, wash-boarded, pot-holed or covered with moss, mud or sheep droppings. For certain it means some of the best backroad adventure cycling in the Basque Country. We’ll ride in the magical borderlands between France and Spain known as the Basque Country. Epic climbs and beautiful views guaranteed. We’ll ride hard and eat well with plenty of downtime. We’ll relax at cyclist-friendly, comfortable hotels and dine in laid-back restaurants serving Instagram worthy dishes. Recovery beer a necessity...whoops, we mean included. This is NOT a traditional road tour. This is a narrow road and off-the-beaten-path bike tour. There will be minimal gravel road riding. (Click here for our gravel tour in the Massif Central). Any adventure road or alternative “road” bike with 32c or larger tires would be ideal. Traditional road-style rim brakes may limit your tire size and/or cause clearance issues. We are not rim brake haters…we just hate when tiny rocks or twigs get stuck between the brake and the frame and scratch our expensive paint jobs. Cantilever or linear pull brakes (remember those?) and discs are the best choice for this adventure. Have bike-related questions? Give us a shout!
You’ll see the ocean, the mountains and lots and lots of green. It’s the most western-end of the mighty Pyrenees, so there will be some serious climbing. Not like the Tour de France. Harder. Just kidding. Sort-of. The climbs won’t be as long, but can get ridiculously steep for a few meters at a time (that’s 3.3 feet for our imperial friends). You’ll see sweeping views of the French and Spanish countryside. Lots of farms and fields and thick, magical forests and layer upon layer of purple hills. There will be free-ranging herds of animals, including the famous Pottock pony (pronounced pot-tee-yock). They are adorable but feral (a fancy word meaning “wild”). Please do not feed them as we can’t be responsible for all your fingers. Traffic will be light to non-existent, except near towns and on some stretches of main paved roads. In general, cars and trucks are more respectful of cyclists than you are probably used to. The sun is out often and can be intense. We try to run our tours during the “dry” season so you can count on an impressive sunglasses tan but a shower can sneak up on us at any time. We recommend you bring a fender. If you don’t, it will definitely rain.
What’s an average ride going to be like? Epic. But not soul-crushing. This isn’t a Cent Cols Challenge! But it will be a challenging tour with a considerable amount of climbing and some of those climbs will be steep. Bring your “easy” gears. We won’t judge. We will however be stopping for snacks and photos at the summit. Lunch will be picnic-style in a field or the woods, requiring you to dismount, walk-around and relax…so we don’t recommend road shoes. This isn’t a great ride for beginners or those without some unpaved or rough road experience (or your unsuspecting wife, husband, partner or friend who thinks this is a leisurely cycling tour). This is not a race, Granfondo or training camp. It is a vacation with your bicycle and several like-minded cyclists who love a challenge. We encourage you to slow down, look around and enjoy the scenery.You do not have to be an ultra-fit athlete to tackle this trip and there will be no prizes for finishing first but we do hope our guests can finish each stage on two-wheels. This means we’ll have to keep the pedals turning. So come ready to ride and climb, physically and mentally. Know your limits, be ok with the possibility of having to stop on a climb (gasp!), find humor in tired legs and a sore ass, accept that there will be some sweating (swearing) and many hours in the saddle. No one will get dropped. Seriously, we can’t drop you. You’d be alone in the Basque country with only sheep for company and they don’t speak English. Isn’t adventure cycling fun?
This is going to change from tour to tour as we discover new hidden roads. We want to keep you coming back for more. You won’t have to worry about navigation. Your guide will have a technologically superior GPS, so you can ride without one if you choose. If you would prefer to follow the directions of a shrill, squawking piece of plastic attached to your handlebars, so be it. We’ll provide the next day’s route at the riders’ meeting after dinner. You’ll also receive a “professional” looking road book that may or may not be spell-checked which describes the entire tour in painful detail. There will not be a quiz, though that would fun! Plan to ride 50 to 60 miles per day (80 to 100 km) with between 5,000 to 6,000 feet of climbing (1,500 – 2,000 meters). If we can do it, you can do it. If not, there’s a sag wagon with air-conditioning and an ice-chest. Just leave some for us!
Why should you pay us and not that other tour company? Because we adore the road-less-traveled, we love to eat great food, we know how to balance an enjoyable day on the bike with a decent challenge. Most importantly, we know how to have fun. We are cyclists. We love bikes and love to ride them in some pretty epic places, just like you. We are more interested in providing you and your best riding buddies with a personalized experience instead of just filling tours to “make our numbers”. Four riders is all we need for a group tour. A private tour can be had for as few as two (shoot us an email for details). We provide a capable guide with average people skills and a great sense of humor, a great mechanic with no humor at all, a broom wagon (just in case), luggage transfers, accommodations including the night before your tour, memorable meals (because food is more than fuel), custom jersey, 2 custom bottles, a custom tour poster or canvas goodie bag and portable cycling nutrition that actually tastes good. We’ll stay in traditional hotels, B&B’s or well-appointed gites when possible. All other times will be a stone hut in the high-mountains. Kidding. (Just making sure you’re still paying attention). A buffet breakfast will be available every morning, thoughtfully prepared by our hotel hosts, so remember your manners people. Many cultures are not big breakfast eaters (think croissants and jam and cheese, with juice, coffee and some granola or cereal NOT bacon and eggs). We’re happy to help supplement your morning meal if you let us know in advance. Expect 3-course dinners with 2 adult beverages per guest, if you like, on us. (BTW real cyclists drink rosé). We prepare healthy, picnic-style lunches on the road highlighting local flavors. There will be cheese. You don’t have to eat it. There will be charcuterie (delicious meat in tube form). Again, you don’t have to eat it. If you don’t eat meat, we promise it will not touch the vegetables. Yes, we will accommodate your totally complicated dietary needs (within reason and availability…this is France after all, so we might have to get creative.
i really need my beauty sleep
So do we. It keeps us from getting cranky. Rooms will be shared. We’ll try to match you with a super duper roommate but if you’re squeamish about a stranger seeing you in your underwear, you can 1) bring a friend or 2) request a single room for a supplemental fee (think about it: no snoring and you can sing in the shower). Hotels TBD depending on the season and availability. We like to mix it up from time to time but promise there will be modern plumbing, clean sheets and WiFi to upload all your epic cycling photos. Some might actually be swanky but they won’t mind you sleeping with your bike in the room or going to breakfast in your bibs. You’ll just have to trust us. If you don’t, no hard feelings. We’ll send you a list a few weeks before the tour. A few things to consider about hotels in the Basque countryside: they are quirky but adorable. Like when they have a perfectly modern shower but no shower curtain. (Don’t fret, it’s perfectly normal to soak the bathroom floor). Also, it’s highly unlikely any of our hotels will have air-conditioning. That’s the bad news. The good news? It’s hardly ever scorching here and who doesn’t love sleeping with the windows open? We will try to accommodate any wants and needs of our customers to ensure your total comfort while off the bike. We like to rest as hard as we ride.
When we aren’t on tour, we operate a rad little bike shop complete with espresso machine. Not one of those pod thingies…an actual shiny Italian kind. We can usually handle any last minute adjustments or repairs. We sell socks and tubes (and other helpful items) if you forget those. Bicycle rental is available. Send us your fit numbers and we’ll have it ready to roll when you are. Want to bring your own sweet ride? Woo-hoo! You provide the Bike Flights label and we will unbox it/assemble it before your tour then disassemble and re-box it after your tour for 150€. Want to bring it on the plane? We’ll assemble and disassemble for 75€. Proof of health/accident insurance required. Travel insurance highly recommended. Come on, it’s what grown-ups do. Can non-riding guests come along? Sure! But, they won’t be riding. So, they’ll have to find something else fun to do. They can join us at the hotel after our ride each day. We’ll provide a non-cycling, emotional support-buddy supplement if they want to share your room (but not your meals…they get their own). Or, for tours starting and ending in Biarritz, we can help with hotel accommodation and activities. While you’re out laboring on two-wheels (poor you), they can be living it up in the Basque Country. There’s the beach, the mountains, surfing, shopping, people watching, pintxos, an aquarium, a casino…we could go on and on. If we haven’t listed it here and you NEED to know about it, just ask. We’re always available by email, instant message or by phone. We speak French and English. And a teensy bit of Basque. Like three words. Maybe four. Ok, enough already.
Let’s go for a great ride, shall we?