Frequently Asked Questions

Have a question? Find out more below. For the latest news and updates about the BMC 2020 page, please visit our 'latest news' page here.

Q. What happens if I book and the event is cancelled due to government rules change etc.?

You will be fully entitled to defer your entry to 2021 with no charge. The hospice has to commit money to pay for your room: we will tell you before this happens. From this point onwards there will be some costs to cancel, so the hospice is not out of pocket, but we’ll be completely transparent. If you have any questions about this, please do let our Event Manager, Helen, know via  h_moore85@hotmail.com

Q. Will we be safe, comfortable and what are current practicalities of running BMC in France in light of the Virus?

The Neaclub hotel and restaurant in Annecy reopened on the 27th June (including catering). Significant health and safety measures, including extended cleaning precautions are in place. Groups of up to ten people are allowed in France and our cycling groups and all other activities will be organised to reflect this.  Everyone will have the right to their own room or share with someone from their household. You will get constant rider vehicle support on all rides. Lunches will be picnics prepared at the hotel and payable on arrival. Routes are new and listed on our site here All routes incorporate some iconic Tour De France climbs

Q. Are prices the same as last year and what are they?

Thanks to our amazing sponsors, for the first 40 people booking we can offer the same exceptional 2019 rate of £395, including all the guided and supported cycling, accomodation, half-board and airport transfers; plus raising £995 sponsorship for Thames Hospice. Or £995 for the same package without sponsorship. Single room supplements (approximately £30 for the stay), bikes and air travel not included. For anyone who attended BMC 2019 you will know what great value that represnets (retail value: £1,200 and upwards). 

Q. What about flights?

  • Direct flights are operating daily from Heathrow and other UK departure points to Geneva.
  • The good news is you can fly from Heathrow on British Airways  including bike bag for under £100 for the BMC dates 17—21 Sept at the time of publishing update (10th July 2020). 
  • You will currently need to wear a face covering on board.

Q. Where will my sponsorship money go?

Every penny raised will go to Thames Hospice. They are the local charity providing expert care for people living with life-limiting illnesses, as well as their families in East Berkshire and South Buckinghamshire.

They care for the physical, social and psychological needs of our patients, not just the condition. Their highly skilled medical team works with the patient, their family and carers, to develop a complete programme of care tailored to their individual needs. Their services include therapy, nursing and medical care, as well as practical and emotional support in their Hospice at Windsor and in patients' homes.

They are in the process of building a brand new state of the art Hospice in Maidenhead so that they can increase the number of people they can support and stop the waiting list of up to ten people every day who need to use their services.

Q. Am I committed to raising the required fundraising amounts for TH?

We do ask riders to raise the full amounts required because the profits from the event are critical to allowing TH to provide the care and services. If in exceptional cases a rider is struggling to reach the required fundraising, please just get in touch to let us know. Remember that by sending reminders to friends colleagues family etc before and after your rides with pictures of your training and the ride itself will really help. Riders also fuind that significant sponsorship comes in after the event if you contact people to let them know you have completed the challenge

Q. Can we have BMC in Snowdonia or the Scottish Highlands to avoid quarantine?

We had a full plan B in the event we couldn’t go to Annecy and sourced the local contacts and infrastructure to bring BMC 2020 to Snowdonia in Wales. Sadly, in June 2020, the national parks asked all sports events to postpone to 2021; thereby closing that as an option. That said, Annecy has always been our focus and we know the riders’ clear preference is for the Alps.

Q. Can I bring my own bike?

Yes, most BMC riders bring their own bikes on the flight with them and for this reason we recommend British Airways flights where possible as they accept a bike box/bag as standard checked baggage rather than charging substantial extras. The airport transfer coach will have a special trailer for bike boxes. All bikes will need to be packed in bike bags/boxes suitable for air travel and you need to notify most airlines in advance that you are bringing a bike with you. When you arrive at the hotel you can get assistance assembling your bike and all bikes will be safety checked by qualified staff before any rides leave

 

Q. Is accommodation included?

Yes, accommodation is included with the full package option but not the cycle-only package.

Q. What is the accommodation like? Please note: accommodation is included in the full package option only.

Accommodation is in the hotel, Les Balcons du Lac d’Annecy in a beautiful woodland park overlooking Lake Annecy. The hotel includes one swimming pool, gym and access to Lake Annecy. To find out more, please visit the website here: https://www.neaclub.com/les-balcons-du-lac-annecy-sevrier.html

Q. Will we be fed during the rides?

Yes, everyone will have the opportunity to make up a pack lunch at breakfast time. These will be carried by the support vehicles. One packed lunch costs 10€.

Our partner, High5 nutrition will also provide bars and gels throughout the day.

The Matterhorn group will stop at a restaurant each day and the Kilimanjaro group will also have the opportunity to do this on the last two days of their route.

Q. Can I hire a bike?

Yes, you can hire locally, we will send recommendations of places to hire to those who tick this option when signing up.

Q. Will there be mechanics and basic repair kit?

Yes, you will be supported by several world class mechanics. They will help you build up your bike upon arrival and support you over the four days. If you need any spare parts during the weekend, you can buy these from the Chain Reaction team who will be present. It is recommended that you bring basic repair kit items such as inner tubes.

Q. Is there any kit I should bring?

  • Day bag labelled with name
  • Water bottles
  • Bike lights
  • Inner tubes
  • Helmet
  • Leg/arm warmers
  • Gloves
  • Wind jacket
  • Cold weather jacket (not just wind jacket as it can get very cold)
  • Leggins
  • Bike pump
  • Bike lock
  • Cash /debit or credit card for coffee stops and packed lunches.
  • Nutritional requirements: please bring along items if you have a specific nutritional preference. Please note: snacks will be provided free-of-charge during the cycles, courtesy of sponsors High 5.

Q. Is there a cut off time for the rides?

This is not a race so there is not an official cut off time. However, we require everybody to be back before dark and thus the team captains will make decisions at the lunch stop if somebody is struggling to split the group into two to take a more direct route home. Each group will have two or three ride captains and two support vehicles so no rider will ever be left alone.

Q. What gears do you recommend?

We highly recommend a 32 rear cassette, strict minimum would be 28.

Q. Will dietary requirements be catered for with the full package?

Yes, please specify this when completing your booking form.

Q. Where is the Big Mountain Challenge?

The Big Mountain Challenge takes place in the heart of the French Alps in the beautiful region of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes next to the Swiss and Italian borders. As such, you will experience glorious views of mountains and Lake Annecy as you cycle.

Q. Why is it called the ‘Big Mountain Challenge?’

The Challenge is in the heart of the French Alps, surrounded by mountains hence ‘Big Mountain.’ It’s a challenge because you will be cycling some challenging ascents (particularly if you’re on the Everest and Kilimanjaro routes).

Q. What is included in the full package option?

  • Accommodation
  • Breakfast
  • Drinks and snacks during the rides
  • Mechanical support from Tour de France iconic Mavic vehicles and respected Chain Reaction cycle company
  • Medical support available from first aid qualified individuals throughout the rides
  • Hot breakfast and dinner with wine as well as airport transfers from Geneva to the hotel

Q. What is included with the cycle-only package option?

  • Drinks and snacks during the rides
  • Mechanical support from Tour de France iconic Mavic vehicles and respected Chain Reaction cycle company
  • Medical support available from first aid qualified individuals throughout the rides

Q. What dates is the Big Mountain Challenge running?

The Big Mountain Challenge runs from 17th to the 20th September 2020. Dates vary each year.

Q. Are flights included in the costs?

No, you will need to book flights separately.

Q. What flights should I book?

We require participants to arrive before midday on the first day (17th September 2020). We recommend a return flight time of 12pm onwards on the last day.

Q. Can I and my colleagues join?

Yes, we are looking for teams to sponsor the event and can provide some great promotional activities and exposure.  There is also the opportunity for a professional rider and someone from Thames Hospice to come and speak at an event.  Please contact Thames Hospice fundraising team for further information on 01753 842121 or at jane.symmons@thameshospice.org.uk

Q. Can I change a rider on my team?

Yes, please email h_moore85@hotmail.com to change your booking.

Q. Do I have to wear a cycling helmet?

It is compulsory to wear a cycling helmet.

Q. What sort of experience as a road cyclist do you have to have?

Road cyclists of all levels are welcome on the ‘Big Mountain Challenge.’ A basic level of fitness is recommended and if you’re relatively new to road cycling (2 years or less experience), the Matterhorn route is the ideal option. There is flexibility to swap to a different route during the weekend, so if you

Q. What happens if I have a medical problem on a ride?

We have qualified first aiders on the team, support vehicles and every participant will be provided with several emergency phone numbers to call in their Big Mountain Challenge participant pack.

Q. What happens if I have a mechanical problem on a ride?

We have world-class mechanics on call throughout the rides and Chain Reaction on call with equipment available for purchase, should you encounter an issue during a ride. If your problem cannot be resolved by the mechanic, you and your bike will be relayed either to the start or finish point, as appropriate. As a last resort we have a very limited number of replacement bikes for emergency use, but everyone will be required to start each day with their own bike.

Q. What happens if I want to retire from a ride?

We have dedicated support teams and vehicles for all three routes and support staff riding with each group. Should a rider be unable to complete a route, for whatever reason, the support staff will contact a support vehicle which will pick the you up and relay you to end of the cycle route.

Q. What route options are there?

We have on offer three routes: Matterhorn, Kilimanjaro and Everest.

Matterhorn is for beginner to intermediate cyclists and Kilimanjaro, intermediate to advanced.

For advanced cyclists Everest offers the most challenge. To find out each of the routes distances, gradients and what you’ll see during the rides, please visit Cycle Routes

Q. I’m new to road cycling, which route do you recommend?

It depends on your level of fitness and how confident you are as a road cyclist. We recommend Matterhorn for beginners. There is flexibility to swap to one of the other routes (Kilimanjaro or Everest) during the weekend, should you feel you would be better suited to another group.

Q. How many days cycling is included?

Four days for each of the three routes.

Q. How long will I be cycling each day?

This depends upon the route: approximately between three hours on the first day to five to eight hours on the longer days.

Q. Is a copy of a route map available before the ride?

Yes, a copy will be emailed to you along with the GPX files.

Q. I just booked and paid online, how do I know my registration was successful?

You will receive a confirmation email within two hours of registering. If you do not, please email alison.evans@thameshospice.org.uk

Q. I signed up for the Everest route, but would like to change for the Matterhorn, is that okay?

Yes, please email h_moore85@hotmail.com  to change your booking. Should you change your mind on the first day of the cycle, you can switch to another cycling route.

Q. I’ve just signed up online, how do I create a fundraising page?

You can create a fundraising page for free at www.justgiving.com.

Q. What help is there for fundraising?

Thames Hospice can provide support on how to raise the funds and provide t shirts, banners and other materials to help fundraise. Please contact us on 01753 842121 and ask to speak with the events fundraising team.

Q. How can I book?

You can book online here

Alternatively, please book your place by emailing our Event Manager Helen, via dadams@tpg.comdadams@tpg.com