There are quite a few operators who can offer you a bespoke cycling holiday. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I can tell you what we mean.
At the most basic level, of course I’ll ask you about your riding to make sure that the routes you do suit both in terms of distance and climbing. Sometimes I even suggest people should go somewhere flatter; this isn’t a part of France suited to short flat rides, although anyone who rides regularly is fine. A cynic might say that there’s nothing bespoke about that – I just have a library of routes which I use to put a programme together. Like anywhere else this area has some routes which are better than others, and there are scenic highlights I try to make sure everyone sees, so to an extent that’s true, but the customization I offer runs deeper than that.
People have different preferences about eating. Some like a leisurely three course lunch at a nice restaurant, others prefer to take their own picnic, while some won’t stop at all, fueling themselves with energy bars and gels. This is a sparsely populated part of France, which is why the roads are so quiet, but it also means there aren’t many restaurants. The French also have very rigid ideas about mealtimes; you can’t just turn up at any time and expect to be served lunch. That makes figuring out a route tricky. It needs to be a great route, but also to pass a good restaurant at the right time which is open that day and can cater for any dietary requirements.
I always look at the customer’s program as a whole. The scenery here is very diverse and I like to make sure that everyone sees as much as possible. Often I’ll alter my usual routes to make sure that happens. I also try to avoid any duplication. Riding the same road more than once is inevitable on a fixed base holiday but I do everything I can to keep that at a minimum and often tweak routes so that customers use every possible route out of town during their stay.
I can often take account of other things people enjoy. On a hot day it’s nice to go for a swim mid ride, so I’ll adjust routes to pass good swimming spots. Often people love the medieval architecture of the region, so I can make sure you see the best of it. We’re close to several wine growing areas, so wine tasting can be incorporated too.
We sometimes find that people change their minds about the riding they want to do. We had a couple staying with us recently who are very keen photographers. They were so enthusiastic about all the photo opportunities they saw while they were out that they simply weren’t able to cover the distance they normally would. For them I changed the program so that their rides were shorter. We had a hilarious incident last summer with another couple. One was much fitter than the other, so they found riding together difficult. They asked me to put together the hardest half day route I could to tire one of them out while the other rested. I put together a brutal, leg-bender of a route and it worked! Usually though on-the-fly changes are about people wanting to change how much they ride which I’m always happy to do.
So for us, a bespoke cycling holiday has to do with being responsive to what riders want. That’s possible because I ride here all the time and know the area in a way that only a local rider can. I make myself available throughout so that I can use my knowledge to make sure things are running smoothly and that you’re happy with what you’re doing.
If you want to book your own bespoke cycling holiday, get in touch to start a conversation