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Old 06-27-05, 09:45 AM   #1
cantdrv55
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Please tell me about a bike tour you've taken

I'm referring to those around Europe, China or even here at home where lodging and food are included. I haven't inquired about any of them yet because I just wanted to hear about your experience and to see if it's something my wife and I can handle (both relatively new to roadies). Was the tour at a relaxed pace? Were the accomodations OK or only Motel 6 type? How was the food? How was the support? Was airfare included? Thanks for any info you can give me.
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Old 06-27-05, 10:35 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cantdrv55
I'm referring to those around Europe, China or even here at home where lodging and food are included. I haven't inquired about any of them yet because I just wanted to hear about your experience and to see if it's something my wife and I can handle (both relatively new to roadies). Was the tour at a relaxed pace? Were the accomodations OK or only Motel 6 type? How was the food? How was the support? Was airfare included? Thanks for any info you can give me.
Last Fall, my wife and I (who started road biking last season - we're early 50's) did a 3-4 day tour in Vermont through Inn-to-Inn outfit (we had tried doing their inn-to-inn cross country ski a few times, but always managed to pick a time where there was no snow!). It was a self-guided tour -- we told them how far we wanted to ride, and they provided cue sheets, made all the accomodations, and shlepped the luggage between places. It worked out really well (not counting one day where there was a hurricane-remnant that came through). There was a fair amount of climbing, but much of it was through valleys, etc. The inns were good, and we never went hungry.

I would highly recommend it.
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Old 06-27-05, 10:43 AM   #3
martin_j001
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I did the DALMAC tour in Michigan in 1998 or 1999 with my Dad and two other riding buddies of mine (who were also my Dad's running buddies), and had an excellent time. My Dad drove the car from campsite to campsite, and then would ride backwards about half way to meet us and finish the rest of the ride with us. We did the 5 day option, so ended up doing between 60-80 miles a day for the first four days and then I did the century option on the last day. We camped mostly on schools' grounds', and were fed in the gymnasiums or the cafeterias--the food was never all that bad either. It was a great time, and I'm looking forward doing some of that again in the near future. Now if only I could get my wife to go with me!!
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Old 06-27-05, 10:56 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cantdrv55
I'm referring to those around Europe, China or even here at home where lodging and food are included. I haven't inquired about any of them yet because I just wanted to hear about your experience and to see if it's something my wife and I can handle (both relatively new to roadies). Was the tour at a relaxed pace? Were the accomodations OK or only Motel 6 type? How was the food? How was the support? Was airfare included? Thanks for any info you can give me.
I've done 2 tours with VBT: one in the Canadian Rockies and one in Tuscany, Italy. VBT has nicely priced package deals including airfare and hotels before and after the tour. Most tour companies only include hotels after the tour starts; you need to consider that when comparing prices. The VBT guides were great and the accomodations were very nice for the tour price. VBT used to have a mix of easy and hard tours, but now most of their tours are easy. Even in Tuscany (a hilly part of Italy), they have 2 different flat tours and 1 hilly tour. The current Canadian tours are also pretty easy, though less scenic than the one I did.

I also did an REI tour in southern China. Accomodations there were mixed; very nice in the cities but more basic in the rural areas. The guides were great: all locals with the head guide speaking excellent English. Touring China on your own is difficult since the road system is constantly changing and accomodations outside the big cities are hard to find if you don't speak the local dialects. The guides took us on some excellent routes through beautiful rural areas. This tour was kind of hilly, especially in the second week. They do have a SAG van so you can take a break from the riding if you want.
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Old 06-27-05, 11:40 AM   #5
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More info here if you're not familiar with this site:

http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/
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Old 06-27-05, 03:43 PM   #6
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You can see photos of my trip to Austria at http://webhome.idirect.com/~brown/austria1.htm then on page 7 you can read my report of how I did it. There are also photos of my Rhine/Mosel trip at http://webhome.idirect.com/~brown/mosel1.html but I did not do an extensive writeup.
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Old 06-27-05, 04:55 PM   #7
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Kathy and Eric from Two Bikes and a Map
http://www.twobicycles.com/
do a great job of putting on tours. I just came of the Northwoods Bike tour on Saturday (here in Wisconsin) and it was incredible. Not too big, well organized, care given to the comfort and needs of the riders, great food, great fun. the average age for rider was higher (okay by me)

they do two European tours (listed on the site). One goes off in ten days or so, but the other France tour is in the fall. they are limited to like 20 riders. Check them out.
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Old 06-29-05, 01:04 PM   #8
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We live in Warsaw and have bike toured areas in Germany and Poland. Here are some links to Euro websites that have tours or ideas for touring: http://www.hendricksons.info/bike/index.htm
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Old 06-29-05, 08:46 PM   #9
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In 1989, my wife, then my girlfriend) and I planned a 6 week,6 country Europe tour. We flew from our home in FL. to Iceland, then on to Luxembourg. Our bikes came with us on the plane. Our luggage was our panniers. After landing we re-assembled our bikes (exhausted) ,found a way to stash our boxes and a couple of tools and rode from the airport to our hotel. These were the only accommodations we reserved for our arrival and 6 weeks later, our departure. Every accommodation after that was found with the only problem of one night in Rotterdam. The day before our departure was the beginning of the 89 Tour de France. Our route was to be. Luxembourg. Across the Moselle into Germany, then Austria, Train across the dolomites to Italy. Cross Italy into France. Tour the south of France. Train to Belgium. Parts of Belgium then enter Holland. The circumference of Holland, re-enter Luxembourg. Attended the, presentation of teams for the Tour and the start of the race the next day. We were both 39 at the time. It was something I'll never forget. A few tips’ if I may. Get a Eurail pass
In 89 at least it was great to be able to put our bikes on a train for difficult passages or just to start your trek again in another place. I don't know if this is still possible, but don't pre-plan so much that you lose the adventure of it. Find your own place each night if you can. Do, buy maps in advance to study possible routes and talk to folks that have toured in those areas before. Bring your own bikes that you've "shaken down" and trained on with full load. Plan your spare parts and plan to mail some things back home, as you will inevitably pick up stuff along the way. We ended up with so many Liras once; we had to send it home. It had to have weighed a pound or more!
Wake up each morning and have no idea what you’re going to see or do that day.
Have a great time.
Richard (jens5)
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Old 06-30-05, 01:02 PM   #10
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In 1994 I did a tour with Veloasia to Vietnam. Everything was included except for air fare.

In regards to your questions 1. it was at whatever pace you wanted to ride. If you did not want to ride you could get off the bike and into the van. For each day you had a route sheet and then you're off, at lunch the group meets up and towords the end of the ride every one meets up. 2. Accomadations were good and from looking at their website they are much more upscale now. 3. The food was fantastic, best that I have ever eaten, they know of the places to go. 4. Support was fantastic. 5. airfare was not included.

I did that trip in 1994, and after doing it I wanted to go right back and do it again. I never did however. But since I have been back to SEA and have toured on my own and have found that to be better and soooo soooo much cheaper, and it is real easy to do on your own.

Velasia can be found at www.veloasia.com and although I can not see myself using them again, I can highly recommend them.
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Old 06-30-05, 10:04 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Brown
... you can read my report of how I did it. There are also photos of my Rhine/Mosel trip at http://webhome.idirect.com/~brown/mosel1.html but I did not do an extensive writeup.
When I was in Germany on business a couple of years ago I saw an opportunity for a great bike tour. Fly into Frankfurt and catch a train to the upper end of the Neckar River Valley. Follow the river west to Heidelberg and Mannheim. From there, follow the Rhine north to the Mosel and then go up the Mosel valley. Somewhere up the Mosel, get a train to Luxemborg. That would be a really nice ride. Easy riding, great scenery, quaint small towns around every bend, bike paths, train or steamer if you didn't feel like riding, lots of B&B type places. Did I mention wine?

This is not an organized tour, just an idea for something one should be able to put together on one's own with out too much headache. I always feel like the planning is a big part of the fun and having someone tell me what I have to do each day takes some of the fun out of it. I like to plan some options into any trip I make. A certian amount of plan with a certian amount of winging-it suits me.

Ken's photos are great. His trip is very similar to what I had envisioned. I'm soooo jealous. I want to do this trip!

Last edited by Neill; 06-30-05 at 10:13 PM.
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Old 07-02-05, 10:31 PM   #12
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I remember the first time my son and I were thinking of riding our bikes down the pacific coast. I checked out all the tour companies, I had no exsperience and my son was 16 and I was 45. We ended up just doing it ourselves. After doing it I was sooooooo glad we didn't go with an organized tour.
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Old 07-03-05, 08:07 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cantdrv55
I'm referring to those around Europe, China or even here at home where lodging and food are included. I haven't inquired about any of them yet because I just wanted to hear about your experience and to see if it's something my wife and I can handle (both relatively new to roadies). Was the tour at a relaxed pace? Were the accomodations OK or only Motel 6 type? How was the food? How was the support? Was airfare included? Thanks for any info you can give me.
Several other posts have made the point, but I will reiterate. You can cycle far more cheaply on your own. You can find accomodation that will be charming, or at least INTERESTING, on your own. You'll get a much better taste of the food, culture, and communities you ride thru if you cycle on your own.

I have alot about cycling in china and europe on my website; photos, stories, and advice.

roughstuff
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Old 07-03-05, 06:17 PM   #14
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I did about 1000 miles in southern France last summer and loved it. I was in London already and flew to Sardinia and started my trip there. Its a quick ferry to Corsica which is just unbelievably beautiful. I was there in May and it was still cool and the wild flowers were starting to come out. I road through the mountain spine of the country and up to the north coast and took a ferry to Nice. I did about a week on the Riviera and then headed up into southern Provonce and towards the Gorge Du Verdon.

I had Lonely Planets Touring France along with me which helped map out some routes, but it doesn't do a good job of connecting one trip they lay out to another one. Also, I don't speak much French but found the French to be extremely warm and helpful (a couple took me into their home for 3 days while I fixed some broken parts) especially when they know you are touring and if you make an effort to speak French before you ask if they speak English.

Hope this helps.
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Old 07-05-05, 10:05 AM   #15
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Did 750 miles in Italy last year, landed in Venice, rode to Pisa, Florence, then Rome, it was truely the best holiday I had. Did it all of my own back, no back up no guided tour, This way you are not restricted. You speak to the locals and they say ahh you must check so and so out and you are at liberty to do just that. I planned to spend one night in Venice, but when I got there I thought , I need at least 1 whole day to check this city out propley and was glad I was able to do just that. I stealth camped most of the time, but thats excatly what great about touring. It rains everything is wet, great get a Hotel, have a good night sleep, dry everything out. You eat where you want, you sleep where you want and when you want. On a guided tour.. well its all too organised for me, kind of knocks the adventure factor out. If you are the kind of person who wants it all organised then thats the way to go for you. The last 260 mile I rode parallel to the train lines to Rome. This gave me a sense of , if the bike breaks the I will just hop on the train and make my flight to Rome. made the ride more enjoyable. I would advise a good map and a bike computer that tells you how many miles you have riden, and how long it took. The helps forcasting your projected rides and helps in ensuring you will get there when you need to... ohh yeah, you need to be a good map & compass reader when you are on your own, if you are not then you will soon become a pro.
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Old 07-05-05, 03:08 PM   #16
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Look for my tour report under the thread I started on Lake Superior.
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Old 07-05-05, 04:26 PM   #17
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I have No experience with touring companies
But I did 4 months last summer, myself, my time, my daily kilometers on the roads. no reservations anywhere in hi summer in Europe. Paris Normandy, The Loire, Rhine and Moselle Valleys, Brussels, Brugges, A'Dam, Potsdam, Berlin, Dresden, Prague. Munich, Budapest. Vienna,Milan the Val D'Osta in NW italy, back to Paris.
Every town and village has a Travel info office to get u a place to stay, most B&Bs and hotels I stayed at also had an included breakfast, and many told me to pack a lunch to take with me, only a few charged xtra
I gleaned info from this site, the absolutely best there is, plus Lonely Planet and Rick Steves Guides

Had the BEST 4 months of my life had NEVER toured before, but I landed in Paris and hit the ground running and rode and saw and met the nicest folks,
.
Riding in Europe will be like nothing you have evr done before, and will give you the confidence to do even more

The big factors there are
shorter distances, the USA is an immense country compared to Europe

Bike paths everywhere

Couteous and freindly people everywhere

Plus the dollar continues its rising strength aginst the Euro

The money saved not using a tour company will allow you to stay longer, and to use said savings to go back for another visit

Campgrounds if you use them are everywhere and modest in cost and close to what you want to see

I traveled more than 3500KM, had a new TREK 1000 35LBS baggage(way more than I needed) had one flat, got lost several times, ate the best food, (inexpensively)and met some very, very nice people
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Old 07-05-05, 04:35 PM   #18
cantdrv55
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There are some very adventurous people on this board. Thanks for your replies everybody. When I tour Europe, I'll post a link to my journal.
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Old 07-07-05, 08:09 PM   #19
Ken Brown
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Plus the dollar continues its rising strength aginst the Euro
Unfortunately, if you are talking about the US dollar, that is not true. When I was there 3 years ago the dollar and Euro were even. Now it will cost you about $1.25. The exchange between the Canadian $ and the Euro is about the same as 3 years ago.
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