Trek 520 total custom build, Cannondale Mountain Tandem, Oryx Mountain Bike
Supported tours you didn't like?
My last tour was 25 years ago. I was young and didn't ask alot of questions and took it at face value. Had an excellent time, enjoyed everything about it. Stayed at B&B inns. But this time I am embarking on a cross continent tour, camping every night. So I am curious: What have been your experiences with supported tours that you didn't like? Not asking about bike breakdowns, but conflicts with participants, tour organizers, accomodations, support staff/vehicle, misunderstandings, expectations, etc. Not looking for names, just details.
I did not like the road conditions on Velo Quebe's Le Grande Tour in '08. They surfaces were often very chopped up.
If it's a big enough group, you can generally avoid people you don't like. A small group is a different story. I did an organized, self contained, X-USA tour with a small group of 12 plus a leader. There were two participants I really didn't like. One was a bigoted alcoholic. The other was a general a-hole who tried to shirk his shared duties whenever possible. Our first leader was also a jacka@@. We eventually had him replaced. You have to learn to deal with people you don't like and not let them ruin your experience.
I have been on several other supported trips where one or two things were not handled optimally, but I dealt with them. A not so great meal here. A less than optimal camping location there. A route portion with more traffic than I would like. Insufficient/inappropriate food at rest stops. If you are expecting everything to go smoothly all of the time and will let SNAFUs tarnish your experience you might consider something else.
I've done a few short (3 day) supported tours and had a great time on all of them. The groups were big enough and the schedule was loose enough that I could mingle with people if I wanted ... or I could go off by myself and do my own thing. I did a bit of both.
Those tours provided quite a large document with details about everything ...
-- Accommodation was camping, and they told us where, but if you wanted to book a hotel, that was fine with them however it was on your time.
-- Baggage pick up closed by 8:30 am. So if you took a hotel some distance away, it was up to you to be there before 8:30 am to drop off the bags
-- Breakfast, lunch, and dinner were between this time and that time (and incidentally were excellent!)
-- Morning departure time was flexible. You could leave whenever you wanted and arrive at the destination whenever you wanted ... and stop off to take pictures and see stuff along the way. You could ride fast if you wanted, or you could ride slowly.
For me, that sort of flexibility worked.
But you'd want to ask about all these things. Ask lots of questions before. And they should provide you with a reasonably thorough and detailed document with much of this information.
Supported tours kinda take the fun out of it for me, but I did the transam this past summer with a group of 5.
We all were comfortable with soloing if it came down to it, though some hadn't toured before, so we had the mindset going in that if there was conflict, no worries and we'd be on our way, which in my mind is a good way to be.
In any case, we had very few conflicts, many many inside jokes, but at the end we did hit a sour point. When we hit Eugene, 3 were headed north (Astoria), and 2 were headed south (San Francisco) So we made the decision in Eugene that we'd stick together til we hit water (Florence). One of our crew heading north wanted to do the original transam, which cuts a bit of the coast off in favor of Salem I believe, but in the end he agreed to go straight to the coast. I was the one who really wanted to stay together from coast to coast, or at least the spokesperson for the idea. In any case the day we did hit the coast there was a northern wind at about 35 mph. He got so frustrated that he would have to bike north the next day that he lashed out at me about it and blamed me for his potential strife. In the end, the wind actually turned out to be fine (southern actually) the next day, and realistically it only added a day on the coast either way. Unfortunately it put a sour taste in everybody's mouth the last day we were together.
Had a good ride after that, and we're fine now, but at the time it was pretty upsetting.
I sensed right away there was conflict within the group(s).
It was the two guys, in both groups, that were in superior shape that the rest of the group didn't like.
If the conflict stemmed merely from the fact that two people were in superior shape, I assign blame to people who had the prblem with that. It's highly likely that people's abilities will vary over a broad range. My group X-country tour had just that. If that bothers someone, IMO, that's on them.
Thw two individuals I mentioned were overtly obnoxious. One made several bigoted comments and on a couple of occasions got so drunk that he was MIA, which caused problems since he carried the largest pot we usually used for cooking thinks like pasta. The shirker would leave his cooking/cleaning partner in the lurch by sneaking out from camp in the morning without doing his fare share of the work. That caused a particular problem for me since I carried one of the pots that was typically used to do dishes in the morning. I couldn't head out until it had been leaned. That took longer with only one person. On numerous occasions the rest of the group pitched in to help the partner he had abandoned. Another pathetic thing he used to do happened when we had to stop for groceries and ride with them to camp as opposed to when there was a grocery store we could walk to from camp. When that day's shoppers came out, he would rush to the carts and grab the lightest things he could, like bags of tortilla chips for the afternoon snack. I always wondered if he knew that we all noticed this. He even had the nerve to complain to the group leader that I and another guy didn't carry groceries one day because we had to go ahead and off route to a town for bike repairs. That got back to me. I confronted with him and calmly reminded him of the third day of the trip when I and two others rode 16 miles round trip to get groceries for the entire group after setting up camp. He had nothing to say in his defense. And he was sure content to drink some of the 30-pack of beer we toted back with us from town.
OP: Another thing I have encountered on at least one supported tour is poor road markings, but that may not be a concer in your case due to your tour's length.
We all cannot be on our best beahvior all of the time. If the group is a small one, the best advice I can give you is to admit when you are wrong/out of line and apologize.