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Thomson Bike Tours: The Trans-Challenge Series
Thomson Bike Tours is firmly established as a leading provider of Performance cycling tours to the mountains of Europe. Peter Thomson, co-founder of Thomson Bike Tours describes their Trans-Challenge Series of point-to-point mountain traverses and asks the question: are you ready to ride a Thomson Bike Tour Trans-Challenge?

- Special Travel Feature by Peter Thomson of Thomson Bike Tours -

What is a “Trans-Challenge”?
We designed our Trans-Challenge Series of trips specifically for the Performance Cyclist – the type of cyclist who loves the challenge and the satisfaction of completing a tough Century Ride. Each trip features 1 week of daily riding and takes place in the mountainous regions of Europe made famous by one of the Grand Tours. They’re designed to present the typical century rider with a similar level of challenge, but over 7 days instead of a 1-day event. If you’re a passionate rider and love the challenge and sense of accomplishment of riding a century, are you ready to step up to the next challenge: the Thomson Bike Tour Trans-Challenge!

The “Trans-Challenge” criteria:
Duration: 1 week
Elevation Gain: minimum of 50,000ft
Distance: minimum of 400 miles
Point-to-Point: the route must traverse a region or mountain range
Climbing: the route must also feature the most challenging and scenic climbs in the region
Support: given the nature of the terrain – best-in-class support is a pre-requisite

The “Trans-Challenge” Series:


The Trans-Alps Challenge crosses the French Alps from north to south – from Lake Geneva to the Alpes de Haute Provence then across the Italian border into Piedmont. A spectacular itinerary that follows the classic Route des Grandes Alpes, over classic cols such as the Galibier, the Madeleine and Alpe d’Huez.

The Rides:

“The Trans-Alps trip was amazing! Peter’s attention to details in routes, support, hotels, and staff make the difference between a good trip and a life-changing experience. This was my sixth trip with TBT and each one has offered unique experiences and unexpected gems because of the routes he chooses. I highly recommend this trip for any serious cyclist.”
– Jim Cracraft – MA :: 2010 Trans-Alps Challenge

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One of our most popular trips crosses the Pyrenees Mountains from east to west – from Barcelona on the shores of the Mediterranean to San Sebastian on the Atlantic. The trip starts close to Barcelona and winds it way through the rugged Spanish side of the Pyrenees before crossing the border into France on the Col de Portillon. From the Portillon to the Atlantic we climb an impressive list of famous cols including the Tourmalet, Aubisque, Peyresourde and the Col d’Aspin.

The Rides:

“What a week of riding! The Trans-Pyrenees Challenge trip exceeded my expectations. Everything was incredibly well planned and executed, allowing us to focus on the biking. The ride leaders, mechanic, and SAG support staff were all top notch. Great mix of unusual and classic routes. Riding the Soulor, Aubisque, Marie Blanc, and Ichere in perfect weather on my birthday – it doesn’t get any better than that. Thomson Tours will be on my ride calendar for the coming years……”
– Fred Schwartz – CA :: 2010 Trans-Pyrenees Challenge

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We first ran this trip in 2010 and what a huge success it turned out to be! Crossing Switzerland from west to east – from Lake Geneva to the eastern border with Italy – and actually finishing on the mighty Passo Stelvio – is one of these once-in-a-lifetime cycling experiences that riders will cherish forever. The Swiss countryside is unbelievably beautiful and add in some hugely grandiose climbs like the Sustenpass, the Furkapass or the cobbled classic St Gotthardpass and you have a week of cycling you’ll never forget.

The Rides:

“Peter, after five consecutive trips with Thomson Tours the one thing that impresses me the most is each one gets better. From ride and route selection to support and accommodations you continue to out do yourself. While many businesses rely on the “tried and true templates’ you continue to deliver unbelievable cycling experiences that I will cherish for a lifetime. Thanks for all your hard work.”
– Guy Asaro – CA :: 2010 Trans-Swiss Challenge

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The Alps and Pyrenees are tough, but ask any pro rider where the toughest climbs are and he’ll immediately confirm the Dolomites as being a level above all other regions. And arguably, the Dolomites provides the most spectacular mountain scenery in Europe. Our trip starts on the eastern edge of the Dolomites where we ride many of the classic Dolomite climbs made famous by the Giro d’Italia – Passo Giau, Passo Fedaia, Passo Duran, Passo Pordoi and many others figure in the first half of the trip. From the eastern edge of the Dolomites we head west towards the mighty Italian Alpine classics – the Stelvio, the Gavia and the infamous Mortirolo. If you’re up for the ultimate climbing challenge this is a trip not to be missed!

The Rides:

“Trip was totally amazing and memorable. I had no idea that it would be so awe inspiring and beautiful. I thought the staff all possessed the perfect amount of support and friendliness, while at the same time not over-managing the riders. I was treated with the respect I was hoping for as an experienced rider that did not need to be too closely monitored. I really appreciate that. I felt like it was my own personal journey with my cycling friends, but I also felt the amazing guidance and support of the staff. The balance was perfect.”
– Joe Pugliese – CA :: 2010 Trans-Dolomites Challenge

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The latest edition in our Trans-Challenge Series. The Trans-Cantabria crosses the Cantabrian mountains in the North of Spain – made famous by the mountain stages of the Vuelta a Espana. Little known outside of Spain, Cantabria is a cyclist’s paradise with spectacular climbs, green valleys and virtually traffic-free roads. Our trip starts on the eastern edge of Cantabria – actually in the Basque country, Spain’s cycling heartland – and heads west through the spectacular Picos de Europe to Oviedo. Along the way we’ll ride famous Vuelta climbs such as the Lagos de Covadonga, Puerto de San Glorio, Puerto del Escudo and the Portillo de la Sia.

In 2011 participation is by invitation only – but watch for this one in 2012!

For more information…

More information on the Thomson Bike Tours Trans-Challenge Series can be found on their website:


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