Vail Valley local to lead European cycling tours again this summer |

Vail Valley local to lead European cycling tours again this summer

Special to the DailyLocal resident Jennifer Sage's company, Viva Travel, leads bike tours in Europe every summer. This year's tour includes some riding to follow the Tour de France, including a climb up the renowned Alpe d' Huez.

Vail Valley resident Jennifer Sage started her education in touring Europe by bicycle the old-fashioned way: As a young adult, on her own, she rode 2,500 miles across the continent in just two months.

Over the years, Sage did more riding in Europe, leading tours for other companies for 14 years before going out on her own in 2003 with Viva Travels.

“I took the best of what I learned when I started Viva,” Sage said. “The idea is based on service, meeting the needs of everyone who rides with me.”

Sage has put together a number of packages over the years, including self-guided tours for those who’d rather strike out on their own. But she’s particularly excited about one of this summer’s tours. The trip sort of parallels this year’s Tour de France, and will also include well-known racer Tyler Hamilton.

“He’ll be riding with us, and a night he’ll talk about racing in the Tour de France and the best stages he rode.”

The trip’s high point will be a climb up the Alpe d’ Huez, one of the most famed climbs in the race’s history. Each of the climb’s switchbacks is named for a former winner of that stage of the tour.

The rides don’t just follow the tour, though. Sage’s trips will take in a few stages in the Alps and Pyrenees, but will also include mountain riding away from the big crowds and traffic that accompany the race.

There’s a special training regimen for the tour with Hamilton, but Sage said her tours – even the one with Hamilton – aren’t limited to elite athletes.

“Anyone who rides around here can do this,” Sage said. “And we have a van if you don’t feel like riding that day.”

But, she said, the Alpe d’ Huez is basically like doing the climb up to Bachelor Gulch about one-and-a-half times, so the most famous climb on the Tour de France is something well within the abilities of many local riders.

And, Sage said, her summer tours are about more than just cycling.

“Every trip is really a tour of the senses,” she said. “There’s great food, great wine, and you don’t have to feel guilty because you’re cycling it all off the next day.”

Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or

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