What Is Supported Riding

One of the main benefits of choosing Le Domestique Tours, is our pro-level supported riding service, which is an integral part of all of our multi-day challenges and the vast majority of our fixed base tours. However, unless you have ridden with us before, it can be difficult to understand the benefits of this service, so this post should hopefully give you a better understanding.

Benefits of the Le Domestique Tours Supported Riding Service

While most operators will claim to offer a supported riding service, we feel ours truly is the best out there.

  • The support vehicles are with you throughout the day. We don?t just arrange to meet you at the lunch stop or act as a luggage transfer that just goes between hotels on a separate route to the riders.
  • In addition to providing full GPS files and turn by turn directions, we station ourselves at all the major turns throughout our tours, to ensure that you don’t go off track. If for whatever reason you do go off track, we will find you and drive you back onto the route, you won’t be abandoned or left to find your own way back.
  • You are constantly in contact with the support vehicles, so if you want to top up your bottles or grab an extra layer of clothing, you just need to let us know.
  • If for any reason, whether it be illness, injury or anything else, you wish to sit out a section of the day or the day itself, you are more than welcome to join us in the support vehicle for as long as you need. This is particularly useful if you are having an off day or have a niggling injury, as choosing to opt out of a certain climb, can be enough to ensure that you are able to enjoy the rest of the tour.
  • We work extremely hard throughout the tour to ensure that everybody is able to ride at their own pace without feeling held up, or, like they are holding others up. We do this via a number of techniques with the result being that we have successfully ensured that everybody from elite cat 1 riders right through to beginners have been able to take part in the same tour without compromising their experience.
  • We maintain a strict vehicle to guest ratio that ensures that there are at least two vehicles and members of staff on the road for groups of more than six. This ensures that regardless of whether you are the fastest or slowest in a group, you will never be more than a couple of minutes away from one of the support vehicles. In addition, in the event of an issue with one guest’s bike, having two vehicles on the road allows one of the vehicles to stay with the main group of riders, while the other can take the rider to the nearest local bike shop, ensuring they don?t have to spend the rest of the tour in the support vehicle unable to ride.
  • All our vehicles are high quality, in excellent condition and come equipped with air con. You won’t be supported by a rusting old minibus towing a rickety trailer or air-con less minibus.
  • At least one of our support vehicle drivers on each tour is mechanically trained and equipped with a full range of tools, enabling us to assist with running repairs and more complex issues.
  • We carry large supplies of additional water, which ensures that you can top up your bottles throughout the day and not have to worry about running out, or carrying tonnes of excess water.
  • All our guides are highly knowledgeable and know the routes we use in great detail. You won’t be left in the hands of unknowledgeable holiday reps or surly guides that treat the tour like their own holiday or chance to ride in the mountains. In addition, all our guides are first and foremost cyclists, so they understand your needs.
  • We take our responsibilities as drivers extremely seriously, with the safety of our guests being of paramount importance. You won’t be sharing the road with support drivers that drive too close to you, try risky overtaking manoeuvres or do anything that puts you at the slightest risk.

Some feedback from past guests:

“The support along the route is exactly right ? clear briefings, close and regular contact but giving us the room to breathe, clear signposting where needed and – most importantly ? a good selection of coffee and lunch stops!?”

“The encouragement and generous support you gave got me up my first 1200m Col in the Pyrenees and I didn?t look back after that.”

“Having been on a few different tours with other companies and previously being happy to do my own thing riding wise, I was extremely pleasantly surprised by just how helpful your supported riding service is and now wouldn?t want to ride without it!”

“On a rainy Tourmalet, the relief of rounding a corner to see the support vehicle is one of the best feelings I have ever had.”

“My tour would have been at an end if it wasn?t for you going the extra mile to ensure I was able to get a replacement wheel.”

On the Road

In reality you will find the support process flows incredibly well and you will soon fall into a comfortable routine with your guides, however in order to allow us to offer our high level of supported riding, we do ask all riders to keep in mind the following and to adhere to the instructions/guidance from their guide team during the tour:

  • The support we provide is there for every rider on the tour and we ask all riders to keep this in mind throughout, as even very small differences in speed can become very big time gaps on the longer ascents.
  • During tours with an obvious ability split and more than one support vehicle, we may divide riders into groups that best reflect this split, to allow each group to proceed at their preferred speed and to allow us to ensure that each group is properly supported. We generally structure these groups as a “quick” group (for those seeking to ride as quickly as possible) and a “steady” group (for those focussed on finishing each day and enjoying the ride). Riders tend to self select into these groups, however your guide team may recommend a particular group for you, in order to ensure you receive the best support.
  • These groups are not set for the duration of the tour and riders can still of course ride at their own speed within their group – we do not expect every rider in the “quick” group to hold a certain pace for example.
  • The priority of the “steady” group support van is on ensuring that those riders have adequate time to complete each day’s riding and will focus its support on those riders. If you self select into the “steady” group but are consistently riding much quicker than the pace of the group, the guides will recommend you move into the “quick” group, or moderate your speed accordingly. We may be required to set the “steady” riders off ahead of the “quick” riders each day and at coffee/lunch stops and ask all members of the group to respect our recommendations here.
  • The support vans will make regular stops giving all riders the opportunity to top up their bottles, change clothes, collect kit or nutrition products etc etc, moving on to their next stop once all riders have passed through.
  • We time all our support stops based on our detailed knowledge and experience of the route, in conjunction with any changes in weather and the time gaps between the riders on the road. We may recommend that you take certain kit or top up your bottles etc as you pass us, if there is likely to be a delay/or change in weather etc before you see us again. We always do our best to give riders guidance on when they can next expect to see us and these recommendations take this into account, so we always recommend that riders follow our advice in order to avoid getting wet/cold/running out of water etc.
  • In the event of an unforeseen change in weather the guide team will get to every rider as quickly as possible, however in order to achieve this we ask all riders to ensure they have are efficient in collecting the kit they need, allowing the support van to move onto the next rider as soon as possible.
  • Where possible we ensure that the support vans reach the top of each climb ahead of the riders, however there may be times where owing to an emergency, mechanical or issue with another rider, this isn’t possible. In these circumstances we will reach the top as soon as possible.
  • We use the tops of the Cols as regrouping points, giving riders the opportunity to layer up for the descent and to descend in unison. In order to ensure the safety of all our riders, the support vans cannot depart the Col until all riders being supported by that van have reached the Col. The support van will then descend a safe distance behind the final rider being supported. Riders choosing to depart the Col ahead of the others will need to keep this in mind when determining when they will next see the support van.
  • On days where the weather is particularly poor, we recommend that riders ensure they have a basic level of weather proof clothing such as a gilet or jacket with them throughout the day, to enable them to react quickly to changes in weather.
  • Finally, we ask all riders to keep in mind that the safety of guests, riders and the general public have to be at the forefront of everything we do. As a result, though we put all reasonable measures in place to ensure we can deal with these situations, there may be times during the tour where the guide team are forced to react to a medical or other emergency which affects the level of support we can provide.

Is Our Support Right For You?

If you have any questions regarding the level of support we can provide, are a particularly quick rider or are concerned about your ability to complete a particular tour, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us and we will be happy to provide further guidance.

Testimonial

More than 800km rode, 21,000m climbed, fantastic people met, stunning mountain, unforgettable views and hours spent on my bike that I will keep with me for the rest of my life!

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