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Organized bike tour vacations

Old 09-26-21, 03:29 AM
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TaraMom22
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Organized bike tour vacations

Wondering if anybody can recommend an organized bike vacation company/destination:
My husband and I are late 50’s/early 60’s. He is a better/stronger rider than me. I just started riding a year ago when he bought me an e-bike. We usually ride 25-35 miles for a ride, with about 850 feet of vertical climb. My husband would happily do 50 miles/day, could probably do 60. I could probably do more than 35 but the idea of doing 60/day every day is daunting.

Here are my concerns:
1. Cost. Yes, we could choose to afford Backroads, but wow are they expensive. At over $1000/day per person, I wonder if it is worth it. I look at the trips and do the math, and it seems like half of the cost (or MORE) is pure profit, given that the hotels plus bike rental would be no more than 30% of their price. Any companies that aren’t so expensive but offer great rides and great service?
2. Route. I can be a nervous rider if the route is on busy or narrow roads. We tried to do a ride recently in Italy and there was a point about 6 miles in that had NO shoulder and busy traffic both ways so the cars wizzing buy were not swinging out and giving me a wide berth, but were within 12” of me at times. I made my husband turn back because I was too scared to have any fun.
3. I don’t see the point of doing a bike vacation where we would ride so hard from town to town that all we would want to do is collapse and not get to do other fun things. So, I am not interested in anything that is 6+ hours on a bike every day, even if I could ride in the SAG wagon.
4. We have discussed doing something independent or customized for us, but I love the idea of meeting new people.

So, any suggestions?
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Old 09-26-21, 05:34 AM
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Maybe for next year. Multiple distance options each day. https://www.thebrat.org/brat-2020/
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Old 09-26-21, 05:35 AM
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DW and I have done about 12 trips with VBT. They have all been excellent. They are pricey but better than Backroads even though they often stay at the same places. We are scheduled for the Dalmation Islands in Croatia next September. That is a very hilly area so the whole group is on ebikes.
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Old 09-26-21, 06:34 AM
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No. Too many qualifiers. I feel terrible writing this because I want everyone to enjoy bike touring.
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Old 09-26-21, 08:54 AM
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Our one trip was Bike across Italy with Ciclismo Classico. It was very expensive, and worth it. You will want to do some training, there are a couple long days. Outside Rome, I had people go out of their way to be nice, even be encouraging. One particularly nice dinner we had, we walked out in the morning, and I noticed an ad, the dinner would have been over $100 without the wine.




https://ciclismoclassico.com/tours/bike-across-italy/
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Old 09-26-21, 10:41 AM
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Domestic or Foreign? Approximate budget and for how long?
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Old 09-26-21, 11:12 AM
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Reply about budget

Originally Posted by rsbob View Post
Domestic or Foreign? Approximate budget and for how long?
I think my husband would be happy with either, but our first thought is International. Budget COULD be as much as $15,000 for both of us, but when it is just a 5 day trip I find it hard to hit “book”, so am trying to figure out if we have to spend $2000/day (for the 2 of us, $1000 per person per day) to find things that meet my criteria. Happy for a trip under 7 days if riding every day, or longer if it is a “mixed” adventure that doesn’t ride every day. If it were less than 14 days we would probably extend it by traveling on our own (without bikes).

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Old 09-27-21, 01:34 PM
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I'm 71 and my partner is 67 and we've used Backroads, VBT and REI Travel for 7 or 8 international trips and enjoyed them all. As far as your concern re cost, you indicate you can afford Backroads but hesitate when realizing it's $2k/day--which I agree is daunting. While Backroads is the most expensive of the three companies I've listed it's not all that much more. The point I'm trying to make is the memories you will have will dwarf any concerns you had about the cost and since the cost isn't going to change your future lifestyle once it's been paid you won't miss the money. Re your concern about difficulty of the daily ride just ask for an e-bike. I don't understand your reticence to use the SAG vehicle. On our trip to Spain I stupidly fell the very first day dislocating my thumb, needing stitches in my elbow and bruising multiple ribs so my riding was done. We considered returning home but I then figured I could be miserable in Chicago or miserable in Spain-so I chose Spain and spent the remainder of the trip in the SAG wagon getting to know the leaders and anyone else sagging it really well. This brings up another issue--I highly recommend buying the optional, and ridiculously expensive, trip insurance. As for your nervousness I'm not sure what can be done. In Europe if you want wide roads they'll be heavily travelled and if you want the countryside, well the roads are going to be narrow likely with no shoulders.

I hope you can get over your hesitancy and focus on going somewhere you've dreamed of as you'll most likely have the time of your life.
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Old 09-27-21, 04:14 PM
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I've done self-supported tours with 3 other men for 6 weeks, 3 other men and 4 women for 6 days, and with just my ex wife for 9 days, plus multiple overnight trips.
I couldn't imagine paying 2 grand per day for a couple riders. To each their own, I guess.
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Old 09-27-21, 04:29 PM
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Have you considered seeing the U.S.A.? You can go to many different parts of the country and join a supported tour for $2-3,000 per person per week.
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Old 09-28-21, 07:30 AM
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If you wanted to ride somewhere in the US, it's entirely possible to plan out daily routes with your mileage and difficulty in mind on something like RideWithGPS, and upload them into a bike GPS unit to follow. You could book hotels in advance, and check out local attractions and restaurants. It would be considerably less money than the (IMHO) outrageous fees the touring companies are currently charging. (I rode with VBT many, many years ago and had a wonderful time, but back then, a 5 day tour was around $700 total.)
Granted, you won't have SAG support, so being able to do roadside repairs, if needed, would be necessary. And, riding with the larger groups on tours can be much more fun. (In my VBT group there was a retired Air Force Colonel with his wife and 17 year old son. Drinking age in VT was 18 at the time. Every night, at dinner, the Colonel would loudly announce to the group that it was his son's 18th birthday, and he wanted to buy him his first legal beer. We all sang happy birthday to him. He was never asked for ID. )
I also toured Nova Scotia with my then girlfriend. Pre-planned our routes (this was before GPS on bikes, so maps and cue sheets were used) and despite getting lost a few times, we had a wonderful time. Well, except for the boat trip from Portland ME to Halifax. That's when I found out I have a tendency to get seasick. Lots of Dramamine on the way back.
If you do want to go the tour company route, but aren't into back to back centuries and mountain climbs, there's always tours in the southeast. Beautiful riding in the area.
Browse Tours - Charleston Bicyle Tours (charlestonbicycletours.com)

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Old 09-28-21, 09:32 AM
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We did a 7 day tour for our 30th anniversary with Cycle Holidays Ireland - local owner operator. Great food, smart, backroads routing, unbelievable scenery, history lessons from locals, pub nights with music, good bikes, and half the price of fancier outfits. We'd go again in a heartbeat.
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Old 09-28-21, 11:08 AM
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Sounds fantastic!

Originally Posted by tigat View Post
We did a 7 day tour for our 30th anniversary with Cycle Holidays Ireland - local owner operator. Great food, smart, backroads routing, unbelievable scenery, history lessons from locals, pub nights with music, good bikes, and half the price of fancier outfits. We'd go again in a heartbeat.
Thanks so much for the recommendation! We were supposed to spend 2 weeks in Ireland this year but COVID (and Ireland’s tourist policy) made us change our plans. We would happily do a bike tour in Ireland! Sounds amazing!

Edited to add: I spent a half hour pouring over Cycle Holidays Ireland’s website and it looks perfect! Exactly what I was hoping to find.

Last edited by TaraMom22; 09-28-21 at 12:07 PM. Reason: More information added
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Old 09-28-21, 02:28 PM
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Originally Posted by big john View Post
I've done self-supported tours with 3 other men for 6 weeks, 3 other men and 4 women for 6 days, and with just my ex wife for 9 days, plus multiple overnight trips.
I couldn't imagine paying 2 grand per day for a couple riders. To each their own, I guess.
Yea, I am shocked how much bike tours are getting to nowadays. That Tour of Southern Utah last week was relatively inexpensive ... $800 per person, and we stayed in hotels all week. Most breakfasts and all lunches were covered ... all we needed to do was pay for dinner.
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Old 09-28-21, 02:56 PM
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Originally Posted by TaraMom22 View Post
So, any suggestions?
You might look into Bicycle Adventure Club. https://www.bicycleadventureclub.org/html/ They're a non-profit club with tours run by the (trained) members. Their prices are reasonable and they run domestic and foreign tours with a range of daily distances and climbing. They have a detailed grading system for the tours.
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Old 09-28-21, 04:11 PM
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Originally Posted by TaraMom22 View Post

Edited to add: I spent a half hour pouring over Cycle Holidays Ireland’s website and it looks perfect! Exactly what I was hoping to find.
So glad - I think you will love John and his crew, as well as the type of riders the tour attracts. BTW: the picture of the cows on the hillside looking south over the cliffs of Moher [used to be home page, now leads off the itinerary] is one I took the first night in Doolin, I'm tickled that John chose to use it.
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Old 09-28-21, 08:00 PM
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Originally Posted by tigat View Post
So glad - I think you will love John and his crew, as well as the type of riders the tour attracts. BTW: the picture of the cows on the hillside looking south over the cliffs of Moher [used to be home page, now leads off the itinerary] is one I took the first night in Doolin, I'm tickled that John chose to use it.
two years ago we spent three weeks touring the western Irish coast by car the areas that are featured by CycleIreland.., and the scenery is absolutely superb. We fell in love with the country and especially the people whom were so warm and kind. We are going back to see Northern Ireland and the east coast because our experience was so wonderful. Too bad we didn’t know about this company prior to our trip or we would of done it.
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Old 09-28-21, 11:30 PM
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Self guided tours are the way to go for me. I’ve done a few—one in Greece and Vienna to Prague. They can vary the route to your taste, you stay in pretty nice bed and breakfast places. We rent their bikes so air travel is easy. GPS plus route maps keep you from getting lost. They shlep your bags from room to room. Much cheaper than fully supported and guided tours. I think it provides more adventure and a chance to hang out with the locals.
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Old 09-29-21, 05:43 AM
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Here in ABQ https://www.freetoroamebiking.com/
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Old 09-29-21, 07:20 AM
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Originally Posted by raceboy View Post
Self guided tours are the way to go for me. I’ve done a few—one in Greece and Vienna to Prague. They can vary the route to your taste, you stay in pretty nice bed and breakfast places. We rent their bikes so air travel is easy. GPS plus route maps keep you from getting lost. They shlep your bags from room to room. Much cheaper than fully supported and guided tours. I think it provides more adventure and a chance to hang out with the locals.
We had a self-guided tour, inn-to-inn, planned with Discover France to cycle 6 days in the Provence and including some options for Ventoux. We were going to catch a stage of Le Tour to kick off our trip. We originally had this planned for 2019, then put it off to 2020 and then postponed again. Hopefully 2022!

Discover France pretty much customized the tour we wanted, provided good carbon bikes, and their price was more reasonable than other touring companies we found.
The Ireland Tour company sounds great, though. Saving for future reference!
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Old 09-29-21, 08:57 AM
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Originally Posted by raceboy View Post
I think it provides more adventure and a chance to hang out with the locals.
I have never done a self-guided trip, but I have done many miles of self-contained touring both in a small group (13 people), with one other person, and solo and have done some group supported tours. I think what you bring up is spot on. When in groups, most people tend to confine much of their interactions within the group. Also, a group is usually seen by others as more self-sufficient. I have had much more interaction with locals while touring solo or with my ex-GF. Sometimes it's been the "sympathy factor." People see you alone and they want to help you. At one campground in CT, after I had finished the small group x-country tour and was riding home solo, a woman gave me a half a pie she had baked. In 2017, while chatting with my campground host at Glacier National Park, his wife came out of their RV and gave me some cookies fresh from the oven. Things like that usually don't happen when you are on a group trip.

Another instance that comes to mind was when I was touring solo out west. I was outside a store in WY when members of a Backroads cycling trip started pulling up. They had ridden down a long pass that I was preparing to ride up. I politely tried to get some intel out of them about what I would encounter, but they were far more interested in confining their interactions to themselves. I finally gave up. It was really a change for me since people who tour solo or with one or two other people are usually quite eager to share with, and learn from, others they meet on the road.
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Old 09-30-21, 04:53 AM
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Originally Posted by tigat View Post
We did a 7 day tour for our 30th anniversary with Cycle Holidays Ireland - local owner operator. Great food, smart, backroads routing, unbelievable scenery, history lessons from locals, pub nights with music, good bikes, and half the price of fancier outfits. We'd go again in a heartbeat.
If touring in Europe/UK, always look at local tour companies. US prices are outrageous by comparison, even taking into account flights.
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Old 09-30-21, 07:23 AM
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Ride with Andy Hampsten in Italy! They do a number of different tours of varying difficulty, some a mix of cooking and cycling.

https://www.cinghiale.com/
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Old 09-30-21, 01:10 PM
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Some years ago we went on an inn to inn tour in Vermont. Each day we had a map and no particular schedule. Lunch was whatever we found and dinner and breakfast included at the next Inn. It was fantastic, I won’t recommend any particular vendor since that was a while ago. Don’t worry too much about the Green Mountains they are about as steep as the Berkeley Hills. But anyway great fun and friendly people.
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Old 09-30-21, 02:52 PM
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I was looking at the Algarve Region of Portugal for an extended holiday. I was amazed at the detail of information about bicycle routes from the Region’s website. Graded by difficulty, etc.

You miss the camaraderie of a group, but might have a longer vacay if self-planned & executed.

Gibraltar is close.


In USA
For a Summer excursion, if you like islands and ferries and coastlines (I like kayaks, too). Olympic Peninsula, San Juan Islands, Victoria or Vancouver BC. July or August recommended.

I have cycled the Olympic peninsula a good bit - also from Blaine, WA to the Peace Arch to Point Roberts and back on the shortest Boundary Bay route. Lots of routes in that very north west corner of the lower 48.

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