Etape Training Weekends 2014
Selected dates March-June from £495
Accommodation Type:
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Tough Trip code - WET13

Are you taking part in a big European cyclosportive event like the Etape du Tour or the Marmotte, or taking part in the Deloittes Ride across Britain in 2014? Or do you simply need to get some quality cycling, on big climbs, into your legs to progress your training schedule? If the answer is YES, you’ve come to the right place.

Our Etape Training weekends, hosted by Rob Penn, are based in the heart of the Brecon Beacons National Park. The finest road cycling in southern Britain and the home training ground for pros like Nicole Cooke, Magnus Backstedt and Geraint Thomas is our backyard. And we’re only 3 hours by train or car from London.

We provide fully supported, guided, training rides, lead by a coach over weekends in spring and early summer. The rides, on lightly trafficked roads, are 140 plus kms on Saturday with 2,000m of ascent; 100kms on Sunday, with 1,800m of ascent. The rides simulate the rigour of European cyclosportives, providing invaluable insight and preparation. We provide a qualified coach, to help you with everything from bike set up and cadence to group riding and descending skills. You will also ride with an ex-pro cyclist and learn about hydration and nutrition for the big day. Our rides are fully supported with a backup vehicle carrying everything you need energy snacks, fruit, your lunch, spare wheels, tools and an extra layer for the big descents.

Ride hard, eat well, sleep deeply is our simple ethos. The training weekends are based at the Gliffaes, a delightful country house hotel beside the River Usk. We believe you’re entitled to a little luxury and some fine food when you’ve spent all day on your bike, putting the hammer down over the Brecon Beacons. Post-ride on the Saturday, you’ll have a massage. Before dinner, there will be a short seminar focusing on different aspects (training schedules, gearing and tyres, nutrition etc) of riding major cyclo sportive events.

Read a personal account of this trip by John MacLeary featured in the Telegraph- L’Etape du Tour – Stage 4: Over the hills and far away

  • Jamie says: riding with Rob
  • Riding with a qualified cycling coach
  • The sports massage post-ride
  • The back-up vehicle, laden with food
  • Dinner in the hotel on Saturday night - food never tasted better
  • The climbing up to Gospel Pass on Sunday morning
  • The descent from Llangynidr Moor into the Usk Valley

What people have said

“I could not have enjoyed the weekend more. Rob Penn's advice, patience and good humour was hugely appreciated. I felt very privileged to have the opportunity to speak to all of the guides who had vast and varied experience. I particularly appreciated the care Rob took to dig out the elevation profile of the Marmotte, to chat us through the course, the advice about morning preparation and handling the feed stations, and the fact that Rob picked out climbs which matched some of what we will encounter. I thought the hotel was terrific. Very good food, a friendly team and a real personal touch.”
Stephen Paine
   Dates Adult(PP)
From 7 March 2014 to 9 March 2014
£SOLD OUT
From 28 March 2014 to 30 March 2014
£SOLD OUT
From 11 April 2014 to 13 April 2014
£SOLD OUT
From 13 June 2014 to 15 June 2014
£495

Supplements

This training weekend is based on 2 nights at the Gliffaes Hotel, sharing a twin room, including breakfast and dinner.

Additional Information

How big are the groups?

Our groups are limited to 15 – small enough to ensure every client receives support and attention; large enough to enjoy the experience of cycling in a team.

Will I be sharing a room?

Our standard prices are per person, sharing a twin room. Please notify us when booking if there is a specific person you would like to share with. Otherwise, we will place you in a room. Please contact us for single occupancy rates.

If I book, is the training weekend guaranteed to run?

If the minimum client enrolment of six people is not met 14 days prior to the training weekend, and the training weekend is cancelled, a full refund will be issued. Training weekends will not be cancelled (due to low enrolment or clients cancelling) within 14 days of the training weekend start date.

Do you need insurance?

We highly recommend insurance to cover accidents and the theft of your bike in transit. We recommend Campbell Irvine to cover you. Speak to a consultant for full details.

What's included

  • 2 nights accommodation at the Gliffaes Hotel in Wales
  • 20-30 minutes massage from a sports masseur
  • Assistance with bike assembly and mechanical support
  • Breakfast
  • Darren Carpenter a former Team GB rider and hill climbing specialist will be present on the Sunday ride
  • Dinner
  • Hour seminar: successfully completing cyclosportive events
  • Lunch of homemade sandwiches and cakes made with Welsh produce
  • Rides are led by a local qualified cycling coach
  • Sports nutrition including drinks bars and fruit during the rides
  • Transfer from/to Abergavenny train station
  • Two guided training rides in the Brecon Beacons
  • Vehicle support during the rides providing extra water bottles energy bars essential spares (including wheels) medical supplies and clothes

What's not included

  • Bike hire
  • Drinks
  • Insurance

Day 1: Arrival on Friday evening

Arrive at the Gliffaes Hotel either by car or train (we’ll collect you from Abergavenny train station: trains from London Paddington typically take 2hr 30 mins, on the Great Western service). A ‘Cyclists supper’, specifically prepared for our clients, is served at the hotel.

Day 2: Saturday

After breakfast, we set up and check over the bikes, ready to depart for the ride at 9am. The ride is lead by Rob Penn and a local qualified cycling coach. Ride Summary 140kms with 2,000m of vertical ascent, following B roads and minor roads. We follow the River Usk upstream to the market town of Brecon. The Usk Valley divides the rugged uplands of the Brecon Beacons and the Black Mountains. It is one of the most beautiful valleys in Britain and is at the heart of our training rides. We head past the sentinel peaks of the Brecon Beacons – Pen y Fan and Corn Du – to Sennybridge and then south on a long, gentle climb past the Cray Reservoir to the pass at Bryn-rhudd. There is a fine descent to Abercraf, followed by a small climb and a good descent to reach Glyn-neath. The next section is a fast 20km spin along the Vale of Neath, on the route of a former time-trial course: it’s the perfect road for riding ‘through and off’ in a small, tight peloton. In Neath, the climbing begins again – a long, and occasionally steep, ascent through Pontrhydyfen and Croeserw to Bwlch (it means ‘mountain pass’ in Welsh) at the top of the Ogmore Valley. This climb is a UK Category 1 climb and has featured in the Tour of Britain. These climbs are regular training runs for local pros like Nicole Cooke, Magnus Backstedt, Geraint Thomas and Luke Rowe: they are rarely excruciating, but they are long and provide excellent preparation for the giant climbs of the European cyclosportive season. The descent to Treorchy from Bwlch has good, long lines of sight and is very fast. Then it’s up again, over Rhigos mountain and across Hirwaun Common before we head north. Crossing the A470, we follow a minor road up, past Pontsticill Reservoir. It’s another tough climb, to set up a long, superb descent past the picturesque Talybont Reservoir, back to the Usk Valley and the Gliffaes Hotel.   Back at the Gliffaes We arrive back at the hotel late afternoon. Sports masseurs will be on hand from 4.30 to 6.30pm: sessions are 20-30 minutes each, depending on demand. At 6.30pm, there is an hour-long seminar dedicated to successfully completing cyclosportive events. This will cover training schedules, bike set up, gearing, tyres, nutrition and hydration. Dinner in the hotel.

Day 3: Sunday

A more leisurely start: we set off, after breakfast, around 9.30am, on a compact and beautiful ride around the Black Mountains: 105kms, with 1,500m of vertical ascent. Crossing the A40, we start the long, gentle ascent to Pengenffordd. At 3%-4%, it is an ideal warm up climb. There is a lovely descent to Talgarth with fine views over the Wye Valley. Our route turns east on a quiet lane, passing beneath the sculpted peaks of the Black Mountains to Hay-on-Wye. The ascent through woodlands and open moorland from Hay to Gospel Pass (542m) is long. There are a couple of steep ramps to negotiate. The reward comes in the fantastic views over the Brecon Beacons and Mid-Wales, and in the descent. It’s a corker – twisting and turning over moorland into the beautiful Llanthony Valley, and then gently down through the Valley for 10kms. There is a sting in the tail: in Crickhowell, we start the last and toughest climb – 500m of ascent over 6kms, onto Llangynidr moor. The last descent, back to the Usk River and the hotel, will leave you breathless. We arrive back at the hotel early afternoon. There is time to shower, have a snack and pack up the bikes before transferring back to Abergavenny train station or departing in your car.

What people have said

“I could not have enjoyed the weekend more. Rob Penn's advice, patience and good humour was hugely appreciated. I felt very privileged to have the opportunity to speak to all of the guides who had vast and varied experience. I particularly appreciated the care Rob took to dig out the elevation profile of the Marmotte, to chat us through the course, the advice about morning preparation and handling the feed stations, and the fact that Rob picked out climbs which matched some of what we will encounter. I thought the hotel was terrific. Very good food, a friendly team and a real personal touch.”
Stephen Paine

Write down your review

What people have said

“I could not have enjoyed the weekend more. Rob Penn's advice, patience and good humour was hugely appreciated. I felt very privileged to have the opportunity to speak to all of the guides who had vast and varied experience. I particularly appreciated the care Rob took to dig out the elevation profile of the Marmotte, to chat us through the course, the advice about morning preparation and handling the feed stations, and the fact that Rob picked out climbs which matched some of what we will encounter. I thought the hotel was terrific. Very good food, a friendly team and a real personal touch.”
Stephen Paine

Frequently asked questions

1. How fit do I need to be for these holidays?

Our Bikecations are designed to attract people of all ages and levels of fitness. All the holidays can be enjoyed by anyone who is reasonably fit. Some holidays involve greater distances or frequency of cycling and some will cover hillier terrain than others. Our tour gradings and itinerary descriptions should help guide you towards the most suitable holiday options for you. If you are not sure, give us a call.

2. How many miles a day can I expect to cycle?

This depends on the Bikecation you choose. These have been graded so you know what to expect. A gentle pace is about 7-8 miles per hour, so, if you cycle for four hours, you can expect to cover 25-30 miles comfortably. This leaves plenty of time for sightseeing, picnics, visiting castles or churches, stopping for morning coffee or whatever you want to do. You have all day to get to your next stopover, so you can relax and enjoy the countryside. We can also include rest days when you can enjoy other activities if you require.

3. What do I wear for cycling ?

It is important to be comfortable when cycling so we suggest wearing thin layers of clothing. Padded cycling shorts, a zipped top, windproof light jacket and trainers are standard fare. Fast drying and hardwearing synthetic fabrics are ideal as a base layer as these allow your skin to breathe and wick the moisture away from your skin to the next layer, avoiding the chill which cotton T-shirts can cause. In mid-summer you may just need shorts and a t-shirt. Safety helmets are strongly recommended on all Bikecation holidays and are a legal requirement in some countries so please bring your own helmet. We will send out a What to wear document to you well in advance of your Bikecation.

4. Are cycling holidays suitable for children?

Cycling can make an ideal family holiday, provided the right distances are chosen for the younger members of the party. We would suggest that you call us to discuss the most suitable tours for your children. In most places we are able to offer children’s bikes and child seats, if you have toddlers or babies.

5. How much luggage can I bring?

Your luggage is transported for you every day so bring what you need to make your holiday relaxing and comfortable. Please try and limit it to one item of luggage per person and that it is clearly labelled. On some tours there is a weight limit per item.

6. What happens to my luggage?

We want you to enjoy your Bikecation to the full so, for your comfort, we arrange the transportation of your luggage from one hotel to the next. The only thing we ask is that you leave your suitcases in reception on setting out each morning, and the hoteliers will ensure that it is waiting for you at your next hotel. We will provide luggage labels for you. All you need carry with you are drinks, a camera, waterproofs and sun cream.

7. Is my money safe if anything happens to Bikecation?

Your money is safe when you book your Bikecation. To protect your payments fully, all monies paid by you to us for your holiday are held in a separate Client’s Trust Account and are not released to Bikecation until your holiday has taken place. This practice fully satisfies the requirements of EC and UK law. Please call us if you would like to discuss this further.

Bikecation is also fully licensed by ATOL ( no. T7462) that is issued by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). for full details how how your payments are protected, please read our Your Financial Security page.

8. Do I need to bring my own bike? What type of bike should I bring?

We arrange for hire bikes to be provided for your holiday. However, if you would prefer to bring your own bike then by all means bring it with you, but it must be in good working order. We recommend either a hybrid or a mountain bike fitted with road tyres. If you do bring your own bike, you should insure it separately. Most household insurance policies can be extended to cover your bike whilst on holiday.

9. What happens if I have a problem with the bike or any other problem en route ?

If you are provided with a bike it will be well-maintained and serviced before being rented out so there should be no problems however, there are emergency numbers provided in the Route Notes for more complex problems.
If you have brought your own bike and you are unable to fix it, we will find you a replacement for the rest of your holiday

10. What should I do about holiday insurance?

If you choose a holiday abroad, you should have adequate insurance to cover you for medical expenses and for cancellation or curtailment of your holiday. For holidays in the UK we recommend everyone should have holiday travel insurance. Not all insurance policies cover cycling daily so we recommend Campbell Irvine. For full information, please read our ‘Trip Preparation’ page

11. Where will I leave my car for the duration of the holiday?

In most cases you can leave your car for the duration of your holiday in the car park of the hotel used for the first night’s accommodation. Where parking is not available at the first hotel, you will be advised of the alternative arrangements made for you.

12. I’m on my own – Which holidays are best for me ?

Nearly all our holidays are open to single travellers, but our Group guided holidays may be of most interest. Group holidays give you the opportunity to meet others of like mind and to enjoy cycling together. The group ‘vibe’ continues into the evening if you decide to eat together. A guide will help you appreciate the history and culture of the area you’re visiting.

13. What type of accommodation can I expect?

There is a variety of accommodation ranging from Castles and Chateaux to small boutique hotels and good quality B&Bs, thereby offering a range of different priced holidays.

14. What are the routes like?

The descriptions of our Bikecations indicate the main types of routes we use on each holiday, such as provincial roads, country lanes, dedicated cycle ways, some tracks and Casa Verdes (disused railway tracks). While we try to use quiet routes wherever possible, you should be comfortable riding occasionally in traffic. Traffic volumes can vary even on minor roads, especially in more popular tourist areas; we sometimes have to use short sections of busier roads to cross rivers or connect scenic routes, and traffic will inevitably be heavier in and near towns.

Some routes include occasional sections on unsurfaced tracks, but these don’t require any specific technical riding skills. If you are unsure of your level, or would like to know more about the cycling on specific holidays, then please do not hesitate to contact our knowledgeable reservations team.

15. Do I need to bring money for food?

All the holidays include a hearty breakfast each day. Some also include lunch and an evening meal. Where they are not included, you are free to choose where and when to eat. Some hotels will provide you with a packed lunch on request, but most people like the freedom of stopping at the place of their choice to experience the local cuisine. Some routes have been designed to incorporate gastronomic delights and will include an evening meal. Details are given with each individual tour.

16. Is it possible to extend one of the holidays from a few days to a full week?

We have the resources to design a tour to suit your requirements, incorporating rest days if desired, taking in places that are of interest to you. Give us a call and we will try to accommodate your wishes. The only constraint may be the availability of the accommodation.

17. Can you arrange flights for the overseas tours?

Flights are not included in the tour price, however we can book flights for you. Holding an ATOL licence means that if you book a tour and flight together with us you will have the added piece of mind of the financial protection offered by ATOL. If you prefer to book your own, we recommend that you wait until your tour booking is confirmed before you book any flights and booking separately means you will not be covered by ATOL. For full information on our flight services please read our Flight optionspage

18. When are the tours available?

Departure dates are shown for all tours. Please be aware that the holidays are very dependent on the availability of the selected accommodation. These have been chosen carefully, looking for a high standard to ensure you are comfortable at all times. During busy periods this is not always available, so we advise that you should book as early as possible to avoid disappointment.

What people have said

“I could not have enjoyed the weekend more. Rob Penn's advice, patience and good humour was hugely appreciated. I felt very privileged to have the opportunity to speak to all of the guides who had vast and varied experience. I particularly appreciated the care Rob took to dig out the elevation profile of the Marmotte, to chat us through the course, the advice about morning preparation and handling the feed stations, and the fact that Rob picked out climbs which matched some of what we will encounter. I thought the hotel was terrific. Very good food, a friendly team and a real personal touch.”
Stephen Paine

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