11-25-09, 11:00 PM
I want to go on a supported tour in the US and wonder how to find a good company to go with. Any opinions or references would be appreciated. Are the ads usually true to what happens?
11-26-09, 05:42 AM
The Adventure Cycling Association has well-regarded supported tours in the U.S..
However, I've always been stunned by how expensive any supported tour is.
These are intriguing too.
11-26-09, 06:59 AM
I did America By Bicycle's (ABB) Transam North in 07. My impressions were that it was run with military precision (our tour leader was a retired Air Force officer and senior Olympic cyclist)...it was on time, as promised, highly competent. OTOH, the staff was a bit stand-offish and could be arbitrary at time with their rule making. The leaders had done dozens of long distance tours and knew the route cold, which was comforting to us newbies.
The ride was over subscribed (70 riders on day one!!) and in spite of that, I thought the crew did an outstanding job managing us. Lines were a factor for meals and luggage loading, but all-in-all very acceptable.
The staff planned the route/hotels/breakfast and dinner, hauled all the luggage, provided maps and a route briefing daily, put on a SAG stop every 35-40 miles, offered a sag wagon for the weary and did mechanical support along the ride or at the end of the day if needed.
Meals were adequate, but never gourmet. Because of the group size it was buffet style almost always...quantities were never a problem. Hotels were acceptable- Holiday Inns, Best Westerns, etc. Almost always with internet and A/C. Biggest issue for me was that the pace was hurried...our average miles was 85/day, with about 8-9 days between rest days. Rest days were in moderate sized cities for the most part (Boise, Casper, etc).
It was an expensive trip- I went single and today the cost for that is about $11,000 plus airfare, lunches, bike shipping, incidentals.
Conclusion: I am very glad that I had a chance to do this tour with ABB and while they're not perfect, I had a fantastic time and think about the ride every day. If you can do it, it will change your life.
ABB website is here: http://www.abbike.com/
My blog from the '07 ride is here: http://bobsride2007.blogspot.com/2007_04_13_archive.html
BTW, if I was going to do it again, I'd go with a small group (4 at most) and do it credit card style- touring bikes with clothes (no tent or cooking) and stay where we wanted and eat what we wanted. I think you could cut the cost in half this way, not feel crowded or rushed and stay/eat better.
A slight variation on this theme would be to have a designated drive accompany the small group in a support vehicle (something big enough for all the riders to get in if need be..say to shuttle past a problem or just to drive to dinner together)- to me that would be the ultimate way to tour...light weight road bikes, help when you needed it, small group. But, you may want to do a fully supported tour first to learn some of the ropes.
If I was going credit card style I would definitely use the Adventure Cycling maps- they are fantastic.
I might be able to make some suggestions if I knew more about the type of tour you're seeking, such as miles per day, terrain, challenging or easy, number of days, where you were thinking about riding and how much you are willing to spend.