More and more of us are venturing overseas each year to ride our bikes. Getting the best value for your money for a bike holiday is a bit different from a normal holiday where there is not the risk of injury and there are more components of the trip to consider. Here are some of our top tips to make your money go further so you can ride more of Europe’s top sportives next year:
1. Flights – consider all the costs
Choosing between BA and Easyjet / Ryanair is a bit more complex than the normal decision making. Some major airline fares include a free bike box as your main luggage but others don’t so check carefully when you are booking. Low-cost airlines charge between £30-£60 one way. Also, include the cost of getting to the airport with a bike box and getting to your hotel on the other side.
2. Hotels – Book Early, there are lots of pros & no cons
The top sportives attract thousands of riders to often small towns so hotels get booked up quickly. Typically, the best value hotels go first, then the cheapest & then the most expensive. Hotels will try and maximise their profits over the weekend to very different levels so if you are booking late you will be left either with the worst value properties or be forced to stay far away and then need to consider how to get around. There are some amazing bike-friendly hotels with services such as ice baths, bike cleaning areas and lane pools which can really add to your trip – but again these are the first to sell out.
The only caveat to this point, check the terms and conditions of your booking to make sure you can get a full refund if you change your mind / get an injury, etc.
3. Getting from the airport – rent a car vs airport transfers
Another advantage of getting the best hotel close to the sportive start/finish is not needing a rental car. Airport transfers in Mallorca, Pyrenees and most events in Spain should cost you less than £40 each way including your bike box. In the Alps, the distances get further from airports particularly for La Marmotte where the transfer from Lyon is 2.5 hours and costs £119 return including a bike box.
The alternative is car rental. If you are in a group of 3-4 and are renting bikes, car rental should be cheaper but again book early. For 2 people, it will be close. If you have two boxes, check with the rental company first to make sure you can fit both in the car. If you have more than 2 bike boxes, you will need a van. In most cases, if you are all bringing bikes, it is better value to get a transfer and if you are all renting it is better value getting a car. Check your hotel has free parking, this should be the case for most sportives apart from ones in Northern Europe which are based in larger towns/cities.
4. Hiring vs bringing your own bike
We are only looking at this from a money perspective, there are other benefits in terms of fit to riding your own bike. So, to bring your own bike to consider:
– The cost of bringing it on the plane (including how you get to the airport)
– Owning or renting a good bike box (renting typically costs £6 – £10 per day plus £35 delivery unless you pick it up yourself)
– Getting to your hotel from the airport.
So if you fly BA with no sports equipment fees & you own your own bike box, it will be cheaper to bring your own. If you are going with a low-cost airline & renting a bike box, it will depend on the length of your trip and the quality of the bike you want to rent.
The big cycling locations (Alpe d’Huez, Mallorca, Tourmalet, Stelvio, Emilia Romagna) all have a huge range to rent with very high-quality bikes from £20 – £30 per day. Roughly, less than 4 days renting can be better valued, and more than 5 days bringing your own starts becoming more attractive. As with flights and hotels, book your rental early.
5. Play the hotel game right
There are some obvious places to get more value on your cycling trip. In Mallorca & Emilia Romagna, the hotels have a large buffet breakfast & dinners. The marginal cost of making one more portion is so low that opting for half board rather than bed & breakfast is normally only a difference of £5 – £10 per night. The food quality is a pretty good and great value.
Twin rooms are also a lot better value per person than single so try and get your group in an even number.
There are some great value trips to be had in 2017. Some of our picks are:
1. Mallorca 312: 4 nights half board in twin room at 4* Las Gaviotas Suites including 2 entries & airport transfers – £342 per person
2. Paris Roubaix: 2 nights bed & breakfast in a twin room at 2* B&B Hotel Lille Roubaix Centre Gare including 2 entries (long route) and transfers to the race start from Roubaix – £155 per person
3. La Marmotte: 3 nights half board in a twin room at 4* Pic Blanc including 2 entries & airport transfers from Lyon – £596 per person
If you want any help planning your Sportive Break-in 2017, please get in touch.