Frequently Asked Questions

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Q. How can I book my place?

You can sign up and register for the event here on the website. For your place to be confirmed, a bank transfer will need to be sent to the Big Mountain Challenge bank account. Bank details will be sent once you have registered and confirmation will be given upon receipt of your funds.If you have any questions about this, please do contact 

Q. Where will my sponsorship money go?

Every penny raised will go to Thames Hospice, a charity proudly serving the community of East Berkshire and South Buckinghamshire. Thames Hospice works in partnership with local healthcare colleagues to provide specialist palliative and end-of-life care services to people aged 16 and over in their own homes and within the Hospice.

Thames Hospice are committed to delivering care that is agile and responsive so that they give patients and their families choices about the care they receive, providing the highest quality clinical and therapeutic care within the Hospice and in patients’ homes, supporting the physical, social and psychological needs of patients and their loved ones. 

All services are free of charge to all those in the community who need vital hospice care. Thames Hospice receives a 26% financial contribution towards their operating costs funded by NHS England and need to raise £38,363 each day to fund their services 365 days a year to the people who need them most.

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

We do ask riders to raise the full amounts required because the profits from the event are critical to allowing Thames Hospice 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 fund that significant sponsorship comes in after the event if you contact people to let them know you have completed the challenge.

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 and access to Lake Annecy. To find out more, please visit the website here.

Q. Will food be available during the rides?

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

Lunch stops at local cafes and resturants will be available each day.

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 qualified cycle mechanics. They will help you build up your bike upon arrival and support you over the four days. 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)
  • Leggings
  • 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

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 during the rides
  • 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 during the rides
  • Medical support available from first aid qualified individuals throughout the rides

Q. When is the Big Mountain Challenge?

The Big Mountain Challenge runs from 20 to 24 September 2024. 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. We recommend a return flight time of 12pm onwards on the last day. After you have signed up, specific flights will be recommended by the event organiser.

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 Helen for further information on

Q. Can I change a rider on my team?

Yes, please email 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 professional level support 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 three routes to choose from: 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 signed up for the Everest route, but would like to change for the Matterhorn, is that okay?

Yes, please email  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

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.