As I write I'm sitting in a hotel lobby on the day following my first experience with the Adventure Cycling Association. I had a great time on their newly revived "Texas Hill Country" tour.
Trip Dates: Apr 14 - Apr 20
Start - End Locations: Austin, TX - Austin, TX
Days: 7 Rest Days: 0 Level of Support: Fully
Type: Supported Meals: Catered meals Accommodations: Camping
Physical Difficulty: Intermediate Airport: Austin, TX
This tour was supported which in this case means that each day, we packed up our tents and gear, loaded them onto a van and didn't need to bother with our gear until the end of each day's ride.
Although the tour was a seven day tour, there were only 5 riding days. Day one of the tour began around 3pm with registration, followed by meetings, instructions and a wonderful dinner.
Days 2, 3 & 4 were riding days ranging between 50-66 miles per day in a pretty hilly area.
Day 5 was a rest/layover day in Fredricksburg (shopping/touristy area)
Days 6&7 were riding days 60+ miles and we ended up at our original starting point around 2-4pm.
The tour was extremely well organized. Our leader (Tammy Schurr) was top notch and the perfect blend of friendly but still clear in her communication and frank in talking about the realities of the tour and safety issues. The other staff members were all very helpful and congenial. They included a seasoned staff mechanic and a sort of mechanic understudy who is already a wrench in Austin but learning the ins-and-outs of touring-specific mechinical issues. We also had some other folks helping to mark routes and man the water and lunch stops. One of the staff member's wives was a massage therapist and set up her shop in a motor home each night and offered much-needed massages to the participants (extra fee).
I can't say enough about the food. "Kathy", our caterer, was the most popular person in the tour. The three meals each day would rival some of the best 5-star restaurants in the area. Examples of dinners included Grilled salmon, Seafood Fajitas, Scallops and Prawns, strip steak in mushroom sauce. We were all constantly surprised at how good the food was and how resourceful she was as using left-overs in tasty and creative ways (ever had mushroom and steak scrambled eggs?).
The routes were well marked and were carefully designed by a local person, the current president of the Austin Cycling Association. We were made aware of many local points of interest both on the route and nearby (should we choose to make little side trips).
The SAG support was good and although few people were driven more than a few miles, you always felt like a friendly staff member was within a few miles and eager to provide whatever support you needed.
We camped every night on the tour, but at least one gentleman took advantage of the hotel options nearby each night. He was shuttled to his hotel after dinner and back before breakfast--nobody wanted to miss even one of those meals!
At 36, I was the youngest on the tour. Most seemed to be in their 50s and 60s, with the oldest in their 70s. There were 3 or 4 couples and the rest were married singles (presumably with spouses like mine who like the fact this I cycle, but don't want to do it themselves).
I can't say enough about how well the group got along. Both the participants and staff were outgoing, warm and open. At the end of the tour, there were a few warm handshakes, but even more hugs spread among the staff and participants.
This was my first tour and if future tours are anything like this one, I'll be hooked as a cycling tourist for life!
I have another scheduled in June. I'll be cycling the Columbia River Gorge, also with Adventure Cycling and will post a quick review of that one too. (Here's the link to the Gorge tour: http://www.adventurecycling.org/tour...lethegorge.cfm
Here is a link to a few of the 400+ pix I took while on the trip:
Here is a link to the tour info: