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Old 08-18-06, 08:55 AM   #1
hjeand
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Guided European Tour

My girlfriend and I are looking to do a bicycle vacation tour in Europe next year. We're thinking between 1-2 weeks long. I've done a little research on the internet for guided bicycling tour companies to aid us as we don't feel comfortable going on our own just yet. My local travel agency doesn't have any clue about this subject so I was wondering if anybody has some experience with any of the tour companies and would give me feedback on which ones to check out and which ones to avoid. We don't want the cheapest, but on the other hand we don't really care about staying in nice hotels and eating huge gourmet meals.
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Old 08-18-06, 09:55 AM   #2
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First, Europe is a big place although it doesn't look all that big on a map.

Next, You should decide just what you want in the way of a tour. Castles, beer, tow paths, what do you want to do? Do you want to be off road, on paths, trails or don't you mind humping it with the big diesels on the highway?

Since you seem a bit timid, are you ready to speak another language or would English to do the trick?

I'm sorry, but I sense that you are not really into touring, so the idea of bringing your bikes would be inconvienient.

I'm not sure where travel agents fit into things anymore. I haven't had one for 10 years because of the internet. I can book flights, arrange B&Bs and book trains at a much better price than a travel agent. It's great if you want to read the brochure, but that's about all.

So, sit down and decide where you want to go and for how long. Do your homework and ask forum members for info. We are quite user friendly.
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Old 08-18-06, 10:19 AM   #3
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Poser,
There are a number of companies that provide organized bicycle tours in Europe and elsewhere. My wife and I have used VBT (Vermont Bicycle Tours) for a tour of Tuscany and found the experience to be a positive one. They offer tours in many different places so check them out: vbt.com
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Old 08-18-06, 11:50 AM   #4
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Most of europe has good rail service so you may like to take the rail between major destinations, like Koblenz, do a few days cycling in the Rhine valley and Mosel, then take the train to do some riding on the Danube.
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Old 08-18-06, 12:52 PM   #5
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Thanks for the input!
What I guess I'm after is a charter that takes care of the routes, hotels, meals, etc so I can sit back and enjoy myself and have fun biking. Most of the charters that I've been looking at seem to cater to older people who only like to bike less then 30 miles/day. I want to get in with a younger crowd who doesn't mind biking 60+ miles/day. I know Europe is a big place as I've been through a lot of it already. I guess I'm just looking for company recommendations and I'll choose the route they offer that appeals to me the most.
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Hjeand
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Old 08-18-06, 12:57 PM   #6
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Graham baxter is the one to use in the Uk

http://www.sportingtours.co.uk/

he does the etape de tour and raids ( rides) across the Pyrennees and Alps

right down to 60km per day tours

good luck in finding your tour

george
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Old 08-18-06, 08:53 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hjeand
Thanks for the input!
What I guess I'm after is a charter that takes care of the routes, hotels, meals, etc so I can sit back and enjoy myself and have fun biking. Most of the charters that I've been looking at seem to cater to older people who only like to bike less then 30 miles/day. I want to get in with a younger crowd who doesn't mind biking 60+ miles/day. I know Europe is a big place as I've been through a lot of it already. I guess I'm just looking for company recommendations and I'll choose the route they offer that appeals to me the most.
Thanks,
Hjeand
http://www.cinghiale.com/

I've never dealt with these guys, just read a blurb about them in a local sports magaine and perused their website. But they really don't seem to be catering to "older people who only like to bike less than 30 miles/day".

There are companies that will hand you a map and move your baggage from hotel to hotel for you while you ride on your own, at your own pace. Cheaper than the full service guided tours, and you don't have to worry about finding a compatible group.

Lonely Planet publishes cycling guides to France, Italy, the UK and a few other countries. The routes are very well thought out, and the listings of accommodations are comprehensive enough that you can pretty much have your accommodation sorted out just by calling a few places each morning and booking a bed. The only drawback to the LP guides is that they are a few years old by now, and enough roadbuilding has happened in some of the cities to alter the cycling routes.
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Old 08-18-06, 10:53 PM   #8
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guided tours in Europe

Quote:
Originally Posted by hjeand
Thanks for the input!
What I guess I'm after is a charter that takes care of the routes, hotels, meals, etc so I can sit back and enjoy myself and have fun biking. Most of the charters that I've been looking at seem to cater to older people who only like to bike less then 30 miles/day. I want to get in with a younger crowd who doesn't mind biking 60+ miles/day. I know Europe is a big place as I've been through a lot of it already. I guess I'm just looking for company recommendations and I'll choose the route they offer that appeals to me the most.
Thanks,
Hjeand
May I suggest you take a look at my tour company, Agile Compass (www.agile-compass.com).

Michael Khaw
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Old 08-19-06, 12:04 AM   #9
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Use a Bikeline tour book by Esterbauer. They map out the entire bike route, with side-trips, and pinpoint great bicycle friendly places to stay in and/or eat at.

www.esterbauer.com
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Old 08-19-06, 12:43 AM   #10
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I look for two weeks instead of one as the jet lag will be in effect. For you it is a 6 hour time difference to the UK and a 7 hour time difference to the Continent.
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Old 08-19-06, 12:59 AM   #11
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I used the nichols (http://www.nicholsexpeditions.com/) a few times for trips around Moab. They are beyond competent and chuck and judy are awesome. However, I think thier European stuff is pretty high-end (Never done it). Still, you'll have a great time.
Oh and jet lag will knock you out cold for 24hrs or so. You'll need some time to adjust after that. If you can spring it Business class will allow a quicker recovery as you get more rest (I use frequent flyer miles).
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Old 08-20-06, 10:41 PM   #12
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Maybe you've come across this already but this site lists some of the major tour companies and gives a brief overview of each. It is by no means comprehensive but it gives a good summary of travel style, price, the type of people who go on the tours, etc. There are plenty more touring companies out there, though.

http://www.biketour-reviews.com/
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Old 08-21-06, 04:53 AM   #13
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Cyclismo classico (http://www.ciclismoclassico.com/) and Bike Rides for Ordinary People (http://europe.bikeridesfop.org/) come to mind. Cyclismo is at the high price range, while BRFOP is at the low end. I have never gone with either, but have heard rave reviews about both.

Cheers from Bishkek Kyrgyz!
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Old 08-21-06, 10:14 AM   #14
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I'm doing a 1-week "self-guided" credit-card tour in Ireland in a few weeks with Iron Donkey. Sounds like it's up your alley -- they arrange the hotels, itinerary, maps (with base routes around 30-45 miles, and 15+ mile extensions). If you pay extra, you can rent bikes through them and even get them to transport your bags for you. They got a good write-up in the NY Times.

If I remember, I'll let you know how it works out....
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