Who or What is Red Lantern Cycling?
Red Lantern Cycling was set up by two keen cyclists who became frustrated at the amount of time they spent not actually riding when they went away on cycling trips. Our vision is to make a cycling trip to some of Europe’s most iconic and beautiful roads on your own bike as easy as possible, while maximising your time in the saddle. We offer trips for cyclists that are planned, organised and supported, by cyclists.
What's included in the price?
Tour itineraries provide more specific detail on inclusions but the price generally includes; all accommodations; most meals; vehicle support during your ride; luggage transfers; any stated client transfers, including airport/station transfers to meet recommended flight times; and the support and knowledge of your Red Lantern Cycling guide.
How do I get to the start of a tour?
Transport to the start and from the end of a tour is not included in the tour price, and booking this is your responsibility. We do however provide details of recommended airlines and flight times, which are forwarded to you with your booking confirmation. Our tours are designed to begin and finish near major transport hubs that are serviced by national as well as budget airlines. The French train network should also be considered, as major TGV stations are situated near the start and end of most of our tours.
Will I be met at the destination airport/station?
Transfers from your destination airport/station are included in the price provided you have followed the recommended travel information sent by us. You will be met by a Red Lantern Cycling representative on Day 1 of the tour, as outlined in the tour Itinerary, and transferred to your accommodation. If you wish to arrive on an alternative flight or train then we may be able to arrange a transfer, subject to an additional fee.
What is the Bike Transfer service?
The Bike Transfer service is designed to ease your journey to and from the locations your Red Lantern Cycling tours. We pick-up your bike before you leave, and return it when you get back. There’s no need for an expensive bike bag or case, or even to dismantle it, as it’s transported carefully and safely inside a vehicle on bike-specific racking, and insured up to a maximum value of £2,500 while in our care. As well as giving you peace of mind that your bike isn’t sitting beneath hundreds of kilos of luggage in an aeroplane hold, you’ll also be able to take advantage of the benefits that come with travelling light on Europe’s airlines. This service is an add-on for our scheduled trips but if a group of cyclists simply needs bikes transporting to an event then we may be able to accommodate this.
How much does Bike Transfer cost?
This service is an optional extra on our trips and tours but we think it is outstanding value, and just makes your journey that much easier. We calculate the cost based on how far we have to travel to collect/redeliver, but for addresses inside the M25 area the total charge would be around £50-£60. This is easily comparable to the cost of flying with your bike on Easy Jet, which charges £30 each way for the privilege of having somebody ignore the ‘Fragile’ tape on your bike case. We also offer fantastic discounts for collection/redelivery of multiple bikes at the same address, so if you’re travelling with friends get the bikes together at one address and Bike Transfer becomes even more of a no-brainer.
How many people will I be on tour with?
We aim to provide a more personal service, so on our scheduled trips we offer places for up to 8 people, and for a tailored trip we can accommodate a maximum of 12 people. You’ll be briefed on the day ahead every morning and each member of the tour party is provided with daily route instructions, so you can choose whether to ride in a group with riders of a similar ability, or at your own pace, stopping when when you want.
Will I be sharing a room?
All our trip prices are based on you sharing a room with other same-sex members of the group. Couples requiring double rather twin accommodation should indicate this in the comments space at the end of the Booking Form.
Can I get a single room?
You can of course request a single occupancy room, however this is subject to availability and payment of a single supplement fee. If the tour itinerary page does not provide details of the additional cost then please contact us for further details, or tick the ’Single Room Required’ box on the Booking Form.
How fit do I have to be?
You certainly don’t have to be a yellow jersey contender to take on one of our tours. These rides are designed to be challenging while remaining enjoyable, and within the capabilities of anyone with reasonable to good levels of cycling fitness. We aim to leave you full of a sense of achievement, but also provide the reassuring presence of a support vehicle if you do find the going too tough. Each ride itinerary provides the estimated kilometres per day, and the altitude of the major climbs faced. Remember, it’s not a race. You can ride with others in the group, or take it at your own pace, stopping for a breather or to take a few photos when you like. Use this information, as well as your personal experience and knowledge of your fitness levels to gauge the suitability of any trip. Feel free to contact us if you would like us to recommend a trip that’s appropriate for you.
What about preparation for the rides?
It goes without saying that the fitter you are the easier it is to keep your head up and look around at the beautiful scenery around you, rather than the tarmac rolling slowly under your front wheel. “Train hard, race easy”, is advice you may have heard before and it does stand true. It’s hard to exactly replicate the kind of conditions that you may encounter on a long Alpine ride, but there are many fantastic books and internet articles on cycle fitness training, be it on the road or on the turbo trainer. You can also ask us if you need any advice - just don’t leave it to the last minute!
Your bike should be in tip-top condition and we recommend that you have it fully serviced shortly before your trip. While we may be able to offer assistance in resolving mechanical issues we don’t carry a full complement of spare parts, and bike shops aren’t always close by in some of the more remote areas our tours take in. Don’t forget to take your bike out for a ride after its service, to check that everything is in order, allowing yourself time to get any required tweaks made.
Gearing is very important in the mountains. Far better to have low gearing that you don’t use than low gearing you wished you had. While the very fittest can get away with using a 53/39 chainset, the safer option is a compact chainset (50/36 or 50/34), or even triple chainset. Cassette ratios can be a personal thing, but we’d say go with a minimum of 25 teeth on the big cog, but don’t be too proud to go higher than this - your knees will thank you.
Can you tell me more about the support vehicle?
The support vehicle is there to make the whole trip easier: transporting luggage between accommodations, storing the extra layer you might need for a 25km descent, or offering help with mechanicals. Rather than follow the group closely it will meet up with you at key points along the route, but you’ll be able to fill up your water bottles, drop-off items and clothing that you find you can ride without, and even hop on board if you’re finding the going a little tough.
Do I need Travel Insurance?
Yes, it is essential that you purchase adequate travel insurance for the whole duration of your trip. This should include cover for medical emergency, repatriation, loss or damage to your property (including your bicycle), or in case you need to cancel your trip. We also strongly advise that you apply for and bring with you a European Health Insurance Card (formally the E111), which gives citizens of participating countries access to state-provided healthcare at a reduced cost, or sometimes free of charge. More information on this, including how to apply, is available at: http://www.nhs.uk/nhsengland/healthcareabroad/ehic/pages/introduction.aspx
What documentation do I need to bring?
A valid UK passport is required for all UK Nationals travelling to France, Italy, Switzerland, Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands. Applications for new passports, or passport renewals, should be made at least eight weeks prior to departure. The Foreign and Commonwealth website - www.fco.gov.uk - provides further information on travel documentation, as well as up to date advice on your country of destination.
All other nationalities should contact their local embassy for information on visa requirements and arrangements with our destination countries.
Red Lantern Cycling does not operate any tours where vaccinations are currently required, however the FCO website offers the most up to date information.
What if I can’t make the trip and need to cancel?
This is covered in a lot more detail in section 2 of our Terms and Conditions, but if you have to cancel your tour we will require notice of cancellation in writing from the person who booked the tour. The date of this written notice will be the date from which the cancellation will be taken, and the following charges will apply. These are expressed as a percentage of the total tour price, less the deposit, which is non refundable.
- Cancellation 60 to 31 days before the Tour start date: 50%
- Cancellation 30 to 16 days before the Tour start date: 75%
- Cancellation 15 to 0 days before the Tour start date: 100%
What financial security do I have once I have booked?
Red Lantern Cycling complies with the Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992 (PTRs) by holding all monies paid in a trust account until the package holiday contract has been completed. This ensures that sufficient security is in place to be able to refund all monies in the unlikely event of our insolvency.
What do I need to bring for the trip?
If you haven’t taken advantage of our Bike Transfer scheme you will need to bring your bike, which should be in perfect working order. We also advise that you bring and wear a cycling helmet while riding on our trips.
On clothing we subscribe to the advice that there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad preparation. With this in mind we suggest you prepare for the unpredictable mountain weather by bringing a selection of layers and clothes covering summer and winter riding. Even on the warmest days it can be cold at the top of the highest climbs, especially on the descents. As you are fully supported on these rides please don’t worry about having to carry unnecessary clothing. We also suggest that you bring sunscreen, sports sunglasses and a head cover to protect you from the sun. And don’t forget your riding shoes!
For those times when you’re off the bike it’s up to you, but something warm and comfortable is always good to have in case it’s been a hard ride.
How do I book?
Follow the links from the ride itinerary, Schedule page, or by completing the Booking Form.
After agreement of all details your booking will be confirmed on receipt of the deposit of £150 by Red Lantern Cycling. Alternatively, if you would prefer to speak one of the team please give us a call on 0845 528 0454.
Where does the name Red Lantern Cycling come from?
The Lanterne Rouge, or Red Lantern, is the unofficial title awarded to the rider finishing last in a cycle race. While there is more than one story about the origins of this title, the one that we subscribe to is that it is from the red lantern that used to be attached to the last carriage of a train. This was done so that the driver or conductor could look back from the front of the train, and know that if they could see the red lantern the train was still intact, and all was well. It is this sense of reassurance we strive to provide for all of the cyclists on our tours, whether you’re a first-timer, or an experienced cyclo-tourist.
Frequently Asked Questions