This year is Rapha Travel’s biggest yet with more destinations and types of trip to choose from. To help put your holiday wheels in motion, members of staff from Rapha have picked the trips that they are most looking forward to joining this year.
Ride with us in 2016 – you’ll discover the art of escape on two wheels.
I’ve been fortunate to have ridden in most of the ‘grand cru’ cycling areas of Europe. Over the years I’ve bagged a lot of cols (slowly!) and have seen the growing popularity of our sport in the mountains. But, if you know where to look, it’s still possible to find new parts of Europe to explore and Corsica is one of the best.
Corsica is perhaps not an obvious destination, but riding there on the Rapha Raid will help you discover some of Europe’s best riding in gorgeous scenery. You will start your journey in the south, where sun kissed sinuous single track roads cling to the coast, revealing bay after bay of azure sea.
Inland the island is very remote, with ancient hill top villages, craggy mountains and dense forests. Bullet holes in road signs remind you that Corsica is a proud place, still rebelling against French ‘occupation’. You won’t see packs of other riders here. In fact, on many of the inland roads you are more likely to come across wild pigs or cows on the road than see a Cervélo or Colnago. The island is staggeringly beautiful and each time I have visited I immediately start planning my return visit.
If you’ve ridden the key climbs of the Alps, Pyrenees and Dolomites and want a new challenge, then a Rapha Raid in Corsica is just what you’re looking for. Riding there is probably like it was for those riding over the Alps or Pyrenees in the 1960s – remote, picturesque, charming. A place that you feel you have discovered and can’t wait to tell your friends about.
Japan. A country of exotic mystery to the uninitiated. I remember my first trip there many years ago – the first time in a very long time that somewhere had felt so different and unique, with a seemingly impenetrable language and culture. But to visit Japan, is to immediately fall in love. And that love is requited.
Cycling in Japan is probably the best way to absorb the beauty and tranquility of this nation. Starting in the wild lights and vibrancy of Tokyo, this magical Grande Randonnée weaves it way through stunning river ranges and mountain passes, affording breath-taking views of majestic Mount Fuji and climbs of volcanic Mount Norikura. We will pass through an eclectic mix of dense verdant forests, charming rice paddies and sweeping coastlines, until eventually reaching the historic prefecture of Kyoto.
This trip is as much a cultural and spiritual awakening, as it is a physical challenge. Beyond the 15,000m of scenic climbing in this week, each day will be filled with unique experiences even for the well travelled – enjoy the serenity of unique guesthouses, traditional onsens and first class hotels, and throw yourself into the local delicacies and local traditions.
On first cycling in Japan, I was naively surprised at the quality of the quiet narrow roads, with challenging climbs and descents that could rival those in Europe. Most of all, I was surprised and charmed by the kind and inquisitive reception of locals. Feast your eyes, fill your bellies, fire up your legs and warm your hearts. And be warned – once you fall in love, one trip will never be enough!
The new year brings excitement. Refreshed and focused, we often set new goals or skills to learn over the coming months. For me though, it is a time to consolidate a passion that I already pursue.
I ride for adventure. Travelling from A to B with a set location in mind, often focusing on two-day tours, habitually starting on a Friday evening and finishing back at the office Monday morning. Weary-eyed, but revitalised.
This year, I want to focus on strength. Climbing in particular. And why not go for the loftiest challenge of them all? An Ascent weekend, with a group of like-minded women all focusing on the scale of Mont Ventoux seems an ideal goal to me.
The Giant of Provence was once described as a ‘God of Evil’ due to its towering summit and torrid climate. The dominating lunar-like peak overlooks an oasis of Provençal lavender groves, juniper shrubs and cedar forests, where we will be spending our evenings… refueling on the local cuisine, not to mention a celebratory glass of wine or two.
This will be a pilgrimage to remember.
I’ve set my Garmin to ‘long-distance’ this year, with cycle touring adventures and audaxes on the horizon. My season will hopefully reach a daunting zenith in May with the 600km Bryan Chapman Memorial ride, so I’ve decided to head off to Girona in Spain this April for four days hard riding on a Pro Team Camp.
This new trip type from Rapha Travel offers the sort of mountainous riding and good weather that will keep my legs sharp and motivation honest at just the right time, and I look forward to be riding with a friendly (and perhaps competitive…) new group of people.
I’ve always been curious of how the pros live and train during the off-season, so I’m excited to grab a glimpse of that too. Ride, rest, and repeat – we’ll each come back home ready to rip the wheels off our usual training partners.
Whenever I hear about Girona, the words ‘empty roads’, ‘sunny weather’ and ‘great climbs’ abound, so it’s no surprise that so many pro riders are based in the area. Will we spot the Yates brothers racing each other up Rocacorba? Or see David Millar enjoying some guilt-free tapas in his retirement?
To paraphrase the late, great David Bowie, on a Pro Team Camp we’ll feel like our heroes, just for four days. I can’t wait.
I’m a veteran of the cycle touring industry and after seeing much of the globe on two wheels, I’m excited to explore the North American continent in greater depth with Rapha Travel in 2016.
In particular, the Raid Southern Utah presents a special opportunity for some top riding. I’m consistently taken aback by Utah’s red rock landscape – a scene unlike anything else in the world. We’re flying into Las Vegas before heading out into the desert wilds, carried by the same spirit that compelled pioneers trekking out West in days past. We’ll ride through the stunning national parks of Bryce, Zion and Grand Staircase Escalante, on desolate roads and in places wrought with unimaginable histories. It’s impossible to tell where a journey like this will take you, but such an adventure always adds brilliant material for the memory bank.
The beauty of a Cent Cols is how focused and pure your world becomes.
Long-distance cyclist Phil Deeker’s creation is as big as it gets and it’s no wonder some liken it to a religious experience. Ten days riding, each one the equivalent of the hardest Grand Tour days in the mountains, forces your mind to become entirely concentrated on bike, body, and the road ahead. Your regular world is left behind, forgotten and discarded. Values become skewed; simplicity and purity is the order of the day as you become a physically-honed machine, adjusting perfectly to gradient, weather, and the subtleties of asphalt quality – wet, dry, dusty. Your mind plans the optimal level of exertion, the right kit choices and the right calories. Your evening and morning, a drill to recover, rest, prepare again. It’s total immersion in the pleasure of road-riding.
I first rode the Alpine route, starting from idyllic Annecy, up into the lush meadows like a cathedral of cowbells, before skirting East, hitting tough weather over the Haute Alpes, descending into balmy mediteranean Nice. The return took us west, over the Giant de Provence, the epic Vercour Massif, topping out at the Semnoz with clear views to Mt Blanc and the final hair-raising descent to the cool glacial waters of Lac Annecy. Despite ten days in the mountains, no two were ever the same, covering such distances that each stage had its own distinct character and charm. The weather kept us guessing too, everything possible, but never diminishing the experience.
Why ride a Cent Cols? To experience mountain riding in it’s purest, most intense form.
A love of the road is at the heart of everything Rapha does, and we want to share our passion with riders across the world. Whatever your ability, ambitions or available time, there is something in the Rapha Travel calendar to suit you – be that a short escape, a training-focused camp or a freewheeling, two-wheeled adventure to famous mountain passes.
Rapha Travel’s signature service starts the minute you get in touch, and our expert team is on hand to answer any queries you may have. For more details on Rapha Travel’s cycling trips of a lifetime, please contact us.