Tue 04 Sep - Sun 09 Sep 2018

OVERVIEW

What to expect

ITINERARY

What you will do

COSTS

Ways to pay

INFORMATION

All you need to know

Everything you need to know

This page provides you with a variety of information about the challenge that you might find useful.

Level of Difficulty

Do I need my own bike?

Leadership

How do we know where to go?

Do I need spares for my bike?

What do I need to carry on my bike and with me during the ride?

Gearing

Climate

Terrain

Luggage Allowance and valuables

Responsible Tourism

Typical Day

What if I can't keep up

What happens if I fall ill, can't keep up or there is an emergency?

Vehicle Support

Accommodation

Food & drink

Clothing and equipment

Phone & wifi

Safety

Emergencies

Training

Training Weekends

Money

Visa

Flights

Insurance

Group Size

Level of Difficulty

The Italian Great Lakes Cycle challenge is graded as “extreme”. This challenge is suitable for participants who want to push themselves physically and mentally on roads ridden on Grand Tours. You should not undertake this challenge without significant training.

During your Italian Great Lakes Cycle Challenge you will be:

  • Cycling over 400km on Giro d'Italia Cols
  • Climb a total elevation of 7,681m
  • Tackle the mythical Madonna de Ghisallo climb

We advise that you train by taking long cycle rides, preferably encountering as many hills as possible, in the months leading up to the event – full-day cycle rides will test your stamina for the long days on the challenge. Don’t forget that the climate is different to the UK and that you will be exercising constantly for a number of days in the heat and the sunshine.

NB. You will only be expected to carry water & any essentials you would carry on a day ride – our support team will take care of the rest of your luggage.

Do I need my own bike?

If you want to bring your own bike, a bike transfer service (bagged up and transferred ready to ride in Italy) is available at an extra cost.  It is essential that your bike is in good mechanical order before the start of the trip.
Bike hire is also available from basic road bikes to full carbon Trek Madone race bikes.  

Please email challenges@charitychallenge.com for more information.

Leadership

There will be a first aid qualified challenge leader who speaks English and Italian, plus a fully qualified cycling guide for every 10 participants. The leader & the guides will ultimately be responsible for the running of the itinerary and the safety of your group, so please listen to their instructions.

How do we know where to go?

Guides will be on hand to help you navigate your way through Italy.  However we do recommend installing a Garmin or similar gps device with the route provided prior to the trip.

Each rider will be provided with garmin gpx or kml files of the route each day which can be used on any cycling navigation device from the major brands. Please ensure you have installed the routes onto your gps before departure and you have checked each one loads correctly.

Please also ensure you are competent in using your navigational equipment and have followed routes on it as part of your training.  

This means:

  • You won’t get lost as the guides have reccied the route and can therefore warn people of dangers
  • Mechanical help is always on hand as your guide is also your mechanic
  • You’ll have the opportunity to learn about cycling techniques
  • Your guide will give you motivational and emotional support
  • Safety is paramount and our guides are fully aware of their responsibilities
  • They will not allow you to cycle without a helmet or without a road worthy bike
  • If you are with a guide they can adapt the route to suit slower or faster people
  • If you are on a route that is too short for your group the guides may be able to lengthen it
  • And lastly you have the opportunity to ride with some of Great Britain’s best cyclists who opt to spend some of their free time guiding for Charity Challenge.

Do I need spares for my bike?

You should take 2-3 spare inner tubes and your own puncture repair kit which will help speed up repairs/changes that need to be made. All of our guides are mechanically-minded who will look after repairs with the equipment from the support vehicles. On some of our events we carry spare bikes. If your bike requires any spare parts, you will need to pay for these at the end of the ride.

What do I need to carry on my bike and with me during the ride?

Our support team will of course be taking a full tool kit and a selection of spares, which we will provide should the need arise but it is recommended that you carry the following items on you whilst riding (these can be attached to the bike, carried in a small day sack or bum bag):

  • Mobile phone
  • Water bottles
  • 2/3 x inner tubes
  • Mini-puncture repair kit
  • Waterproof/windproof lightweight jacket
  • Snack bars
  • Money
  • Passport
  • EHIC (European Health Insurance Card)
  • We also recommend purchasing at least one spare derailleur hanger for the trip.   Please be aware that any spare parts used from the van will be chargeable.

Gearing

This route is extremely hilly with many climbs and descents each day.  We therefore recommend that you have a triple or a compact chainset to make thing a bit easier. Please contact us if you are unsure whether your bike will be suitable.

Climate

The climate in Northern Italy in the Lombardy region can vary but during this ride it should be mostly dry and warm, but can get cold on the climbs.

It is best to be prepared for any showers.

Terrain

You will be cycling on tarmac roads and mountain passes. Some areas of the cycle will be very exposed and with extreme heat and humidity which will be a challenge in itself.  You will be tackling some steep climbs throughout the ride to really test your legs!  Please ensure you drink plenty of fluids and protect yourself from the sun.

Luggage Allowance and valuables

As no formal clothes are needed, luggage should be kept to the absolute minimum – details of what to pack are provided in your kit list. Each day when you begin to ride, your personal kit will be transported to the next hotel. You will only need to have your day bag with you during the day or your jersey pockets and bottles filled.  

While we will do everything we can to provide adequate safety for the group and security for your possessions, the general rule is that if you don’t need it, don’t bring it. This includes jewellery, necklaces, rings and even watches. Your passport and money should be kept on you at all times.  If you have an expensive bike frame we advise you to purchase some 'pipe insulation' to protect your bike in the support truck on the way back to London. Whilst every care is taken, we cannot accept liability for any damage. We recommend that everyone should have their belongings and their bike insured. If you take out the insurance policy recommended by Charity Challenge, cover for your bike is excluded. We do not accept any liability in event of damage to your bike. We advise you to get your bike insured on your home contents insurance and you should check this with your own home insurance provider.

Responsible Tourism

At Charity Challenge we are committed to sustainable and responsible tourism, and work closely with bodies such as the International Porter Protection Group and Climate Care to ensure that our challenges benefit the local environments and communities in which they take place. We ensure that all rubbish is disposed of responsibly, and following local guidelines on cultural and environmental protection and respect, we aim to limit our impact on the natural environment. In addition to taking these practical steps to ensure that our challenges are sustainable, we also make a contribution each year to a number of local community projects, so as to give something back directly to the communities that we visit. Since 2000 we have donated almost £200,000 to such projects, supporting a range of initiatives, including schooling for children in Africa, shelter for street children in Brazil, and Orang-utan conservation in Indonesia. We recommend that any gifts brought over for children are given to the UK challenge leader and distributed where needed by them and our local Ground Agent. If you wish to do more, you should consider buying drinks, postcards and souvenirs from the local vendors. For many, it is their sole source of income. For more information, please visit our Responsible Tourism section.

Typical Day

Wake early and pack bags. Have breakfast, fill water bottles, and load bags onto the support vehicle. Check out of the hotel and warm up. Start the ride and continue cycling until lunch, with refreshment breaks in the morning and afternoon. You will carry on cycling after lunch, arriving at the hotel in time to unwind and freshen up. Evening meal and drinks in the bar.

What if I can't keep up

The event is not run as a race and there is always a discrepancy in people’s cycling ability. This is catered for as you will be split into sub-groups of approx 10 cyclists of similar ability, each sub-group having its own fully qualified cycling guide. This means that you can never be left behind and can take things at your own pace. If we find somebody is unable to cycle at all due to illness or injury, then we can transport him/her from one location to the next in the support vehicle.

What happens if I fall ill, can't keep up or there is an emergency?

The back up support vehicle will never be far away and can be used in the event of an emergency. Contact will be maintained between challenge leader, guides and support team. Mobile phones have good general cover and all guides carry one. You will always be given an emergency card with your leader’s number on it and those of the guides.

Vehicle Support

At strategic points (where access allows), you have the security of our support vehicle. In the vehicle there will be some space for tired bikers, allowing the chance of a well-earned break if needed. You will also be able to leave extra layers or spare kit here during the day meaning there is no need to carry any equipment other than that you would carry on a normal day ride.

Accommodation

All accommodation will be in good quality tourist class hotels of 2-3 star rating. Rooms will be used on a twin share basis & all rooms will have their own bathroom.  If you are travelling with a friend or partner who you wish to share with, please indicate this where appropriate during the registration process or if you email bookings@charitychallenge.com well in advance.

Food & drink

In the hotels you will have a continental breakfast buffet.  At lunch time you will stop and have a light yet energy filled picnic.  Dinner will be either at the hotel or at a local restaurant. Water will be provided throughout. Please let Charity Challenge know prior to departure if you have any specific dietary requirements or allergies.

Clothing and equipment

You will need to bring your own accessories including, helmet (compulsory), gloves and waterbottles.  Due to a number of tunnels, lights are also compulsory on this trip.  Due to the unpredictable mountain weather please come prepared for all weather conditions.  A waterproof is essential and, although this trip is in summer, it is recommended that you also bring some warm cycling clothes. It is also a good idea to bring shoes suitable for walking along with your cycling shoes.

A full kit list for this challenge can be found here and once you book you will have access to kit discounts with our partners The Outdoor Shop, Outdoor Hire and Cotswold Outdoor.

It is policy that participants must wear a helmet – this is not provided on the challenge, so please do ensure that you take one to Italy with you. Be aware that cycling can be dangerous and accidents do happen – you must take responsibility for your own safety whilst riding.

Phone & wifi

There is wi-fi at the hotels and some cafes on the road.  Phone signal should be available throughout the whole trip, although it will come in and out of range on some mountain cols.

Safety

Charity Challenge considers the safety of all of its participants and staff to be a top priority, and as such we have set up one of the most advanced and thorough safety management systems in the industry. In a nutshell, Our Challenge Safe brand (link to Challenge Safe page on new website) formalises our ethos when it comes to safety, and brings together the procedures and risk management strategies that we use to audit all aspects of our challenges, from vehicles to accommodation to the activity itself. Your welfare is paramount!

In terms of your cycle challenge, there are a few important points that you should be aware of:

  • You are climbing cols that the professional peloton tackles
  • You can experience different weather when climbing the mountain passes
  • You can easily dehydrate if you don't take in enough fluids during the day

Emergencies

Throughout the challenge, back-up support will be close by. If for any reason any injury should occur, a relief vehicle will be made available. Your leader will be first-aid trained, and in cases of emergency one of the vehicles will evacuate you immediately to the nearest hospital.

Training

This challenge is suitable for those who are keen cyclists and wish to test themselves.  If you are not a confident climber, this ride is still achievable with the correct ride preparation. Start at least 5 months ahead of the ride with some short distances at weekends and whenever you can during the week. 5-10miles is not a great distance and will help your bottom and legs get used to it all. By 3 months prior to departure, you should be able to take on some long rides, up to 30-40miles in a day, and if you live in a flat area it is well worth getting out and finding some hills. They may hurt, but the more of these you do the easier you will find the ride and the rest of your training. Within a month of the ride we recommend that you have done at least one multi-day ride. This will be the best indication of how well you are doing and mentally prepare you for the 7 days to Barcelona. If you cannot maintain a steady average speed of 10 miles per hour you are unlikely to be able to complete each days cycling. You may therefore be asked to get in the van and not be able to complete the challenge. If possible try to train with a group, as it will make it much easier to get motivated. Contact us for Training Advice notes.

Training Weekends

We offer superb training weekends across various locations in the UK, from Saturday morning to Sunday afternoon. These training weekends not only help you become physically prepared for the challenge, but our experienced instructors and leaders will talk you through your clothing and equipment, camp craft, health and wellbeing, trekking skills (walking on different terrain/at altitude/at night/using walking poles), teamwork on expedition and many more themes designed to make you get the most out of your challenge. The weekends are great ways for you to get out into the mountains of the UK, while also meeting other Charity Challengers and sharing your experiences. To read more about our training weekends, please click here.

Money

Currency: Euro. For up to date currency exchange, go to www.xe.com.

Exchange: You should be able to easily exchange money for Euro’s at home. You can do it at the airport but it may not be the best rates. For up to date currency exchange, go to: http://www.xe.com/

Credit cards: Most major credit cards are accepted in all cities in department stores etc. We recommend you use your cash card and pin number.

Travellers cheques: Banks, Cambios and most hotels will exchange foreign currency and travellers’ cheques

Spending money: You will not need a large amount of money during this trip. We suggest you bring a cash card for ATMs (check with your own bank about relevant charges), credit cards and cash for the day.  You will only need money for tips, food and drink (additional), gifts & souvenirs and any other additional activity. Approximately £200 in Euros should be sufficient.

Tips: Tipping is personal and at your sole discretion. You should only tip if you feel that you have received good service. We recommend approx. £30 per person and this should be given to the challenge leader at the end of the challenge who will distribute it amongst the support team.

Visa

Citizens of EU countries can travel freely in France. Please take your passport as a form of ID.

Flights

Flights are not included on this ride.

You will need to fly to Milan airport on day 1 where we will arrange your transfer to the accommodaiton. On the last day, you will need to book flights out of Venice airport as per the itinerary.

Please get in touch with us before booking flights to ensure the correct arrival time. (Please contact flights@charitychallenge.com for further assistance).

Insurance

It is a condition of booking that you have a suitable travel insurance policy whilst participating on the challenge. We have a special policy which covers among other things, medical (emergency, evacuation and repatriation) arrangements, cancellation and curtailment of the challenge, and more specifically for the adventurous activities undertaken on this challenge. If you have your own travel insurance policy, you must ensure that it provides at least the same level of cover as our recommended policy, including protecting the charity in the event of your cancellation 56 days or less prior to departure. If you choose not to purchase our recommended policy when you book we will send you a disclaimer which you should complete and return.

For more general travel insurance questions, please refer to our FAQs page.

Group Size

The group is intended to be between 20 and 30 people.  We can run this trip with groups of 15-19 people, but there will be a small group supplement of £30. This is payable by your charity if you book under the minimum sponsorship or flexi options, and by yourself if you are a self-funder. If a small group supplement is necessary, we will notify you 12 weeks before departure.

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ATOL protected

We hold an Air Travel Organiser's Licence granted by the Civil Aviation Authority. Our ATOL number is 6546. Many of the flight-inclusive challenges on this website are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. But ATOL protection does not apply to all holiday and travel services listed on this website. This ATOL protection only covers challenges that include flights booked by Charity Challenge and that originate in the UK. Please ask us to confirm what protection may apply to your booking. If you do not receive an ATOL Certificate then the booking will not be ATOL protected. If you do receive an ATOL Certificate but all the parts of your trip are not listed on it, those parts will not be ATOL protected. Please see our booking conditions for information or for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to: www.atol.org.uk/ATOLcertificate

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