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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
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    Starting to think about next year

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    OK, so this year we didn't do a real bike tour, more like a vacation where we brought our bikes, rode 4/7 days, hiked, and did some city walking. We both enjoyed this type of trip. However, next year is calling. My first thought was to plan a longer type trip in September or October, after I most likely will have my clinical mental health counselor license hours, and before I take a new job. I'd really like to just quit my job and take a vacation. I *can* do that, but last night, our friends asked what we have been thinking of. We haven't done a bike trip with them since 2011. She can't travel in Sept. or October. So, 3 things on my list are riding in France, Portugal, and Ireland. We really want to do Portugal with the company we used for Spain, but that's only in the fall. So, we've come up with the following options.
    1. 6 day/5 night relatively flat riding tour in the Loire Valley of France. This would be more of a "vacation," in that there would be no real training involved as there's little climbing here. Mileage is fine, about 200 miles (Backroads)
    2) 10 day ride across France. Not sure of the difficulty here, waiting to get details (Ciclismo). It's rated as intermediate, but I want to see the elevation profile.
    3 ) 6 day/5 night very hilly riding in Ireland. Other factors are possible rain, wind, narrow roads, etc mileage about 200, +/- 50, depending on which options you do.Backroads
    4) 8 days/7 night trip in Ireland which is not as hilly as the above with Ciclismo

    I don't have that much desire to see Ireland, but it's easy to get there and a little bit of a shorter flight from Boston. Of course, riding any place other than home is good. I would bring my own bike with the couplers definitely for the hilly Ireland trip, but maybe not for the others. Backroads lets you upgrade to a Ruby Pro for a price, but I am a bit concerned about the SRAM after 12 years with Shimano. I don't do well with mechanical changes. Their own bikes are not as nice, aluminum, etc, though they do have my size. Probably would take my own bike for the Ciclismo trips, if we did that. And, I swore I would not ever take a trip with Ciclismo after they didn't hire my son for a sales/marketing job, and were very unprofessional about the way they conducted the whole thing (gee, let's see, he's fluent in Italian and a cyclist, with business experience). Well, it's their loss and he's making a lot more money now.
    We can always do Portugal the next year, or even in Spring 2014. I will be turning 60 in November 2013; this might be part of my celebration, but it's not really hinging on that. I think i'd rather spend my birthday with my family, or do something really unique (and riding is kind of not unique for me).
    I'd like opinions from anyone who has ridden in the Loire Valley or Ireland....
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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Western Canada-prairies, mountain & ocean
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    Weather wise I would tend to choose France for early-mid fall, it's further south. Ireland...for October...might be alot cooler/rainier. I would want to do Ireland in the summer or early Sept.
    My Personal blog on cycling & other favourite passions.
    遙知馬力日久見人心 Over a long distance, you learn about the strength of your horse; over a long period of time, you get to know whatís in a personís heart.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
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    Ireland and France would both be in August. My friend can't take a trip in the fall. That's the whole point of this discussion; our original intent was to take a trip to Portugal in October, but since our friends are thinking of joining us, we've changed directions.
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  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Between the Blue Ridge and the Chesapeake Bay
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    Most of France goes on vacation in August, so you will run into lots of closed shops, bakeries, restaurants, and practically whole villages. Don't know if Portugal is similar; with the economic situation there, maybe there won't be so many vacations. Ireland I don't know. If you can swing going to France in the spring or early summer, that would be ideal. I would not go in August, however. September & October are nice, too. If your friend can go in July, that would be better than August.

    Also check out ExperiencePlus. They are out of Italy & Colorado and have great tours. They also have really nice titanium bikes. They also have trips in Ireland and France (not sure about Portugal).
    Last edited by tulip; 09-15-2012 at 07:30 PM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
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    I will look at Experience Plus, Tulip.
    I know that all of France is on vacation in August, but since both of the France options are supported tours, with very experienced companies, I am pretty sure they plan their tours accordingly. The places where you stay on the France trip with Backroads are outstanding, and to me probably worth the price. They run this trip every week in August, so apparently, some places are open! Our friends did a bike across Italy trip with Ciclismo, before we knew them, and they were very happy with the trip, except for the horrible heat, which none of us are willing to put up wit at this point. Riding in southern Spain at the end of May almost killed me, and I swear if I hadn't lived in a desert climate for half my adult life, I would have been in the van the whole time. As half of our group was from Australia, they were used to it, but I kept thinking that if I was a typical person from the northeast, riding temperatures around 100 would have been shocking. So, weather is also influencing my decisions. Ireland is cool, but after 5 days of riding in the rain in the Finger Lakes, last year, I hesitate to go anyplace where there is a high probability of rain.
    I know this sounds picky, but these trips are vacations for me, not so much "training opportunities." Except for my trip to Spain, I didn't really do any special training, and that was only because it was so early in the season. I tend to just push through, grin and bear it, as I know I can get through horrible climbs based on what I do at home. I may be slow, but I can do it. The only reason I didn't do some of the "extra" climbs in Spain was the fact I was on a rental bike where I could not reach the brakes from the drops and the lowest cog was a 25, as opposed to the 27/28 I have on my carbon roadie.
    This is somewhat of a digression, but over the years I have learned a lot about myself on these trips. Each one had its plusses and minuses. Spain was definitely the best, due to the small, international group, and the leaders, who are the actual owners of the company. The riding was horrifically hard (we did 2 climbs that were on a Vuelta route), but the other parts, especially the food, made up for it. The trip to the Finger Lakes was the worst, mostly due to the weather, but I also found the scenery to not be that wonderful, coming from eastern Massachusetts, and we were riding on roads with wide shoulders, but filled with debris. I had 5 flats on that trip, and 2 more when I got home, when I finally bought new tires.
    A lot to think about.
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  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
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    I know this sounds picky, but these trips are vacations for me, not so much "training opportunities." Except for my trip to Spain, I didn't really do any special training, and that was only because it was so early in the season. I tend to just push through, grin and bear it, as I know I can get through horrible climbs based on what I do at home. I may be slow, but I can do it. The only reason I didn't do some of the "extra" climbs in Spain was the fact I was on a rental bike where I could not reach the brakes from the drops and the lowest cog was a 25, as opposed to the 27/28 I have on my carbon roadie.
    This is somewhat of a digression, but over the years I have learned a lot about myself on these trips. Each one had its plusses and minuses. Spain was definitely the best, due to the small, international group, and the leaders, who are the actual owners of the company. The riding was horrifically hard (we did 2 climbs that were on a Vuelta route), but the other parts, especially the food, made up for it. The trip to the Finger Lakes was the worst, mostly due to the weather, but I also found the scenery to not be that wonderful, coming from eastern Massachusetts, and we were riding on roads with wide shoulders, but filled with debris. I had 5 flats on that trip, and 2 more when I got home, when I finally bought new tires.
    A lot to think about.
    When dearie and I plan cycle -touring trips together for just the 2 of us and cycling with our own gear, he tries to be reasonable in his trip planning. Meaning routes that don't expose us to lots of high dangerous speed car traffic, etc. The trip is for us as a couple but each of us have slightly different interests. For certain he does not approach 500-1,000 km trip with me as a way to test our cycling limits, etc. Hill climbing is kept around 6-15% grades. We are packing in 100km. on some days, while other days it can be down to 30-40 km.

    Of course, he doesn' tell me in super great detail what lies ahead on some trips. I don't need to know all the difficult points and in a way I don't want to know all the detailed tough stuff. But only enough that I am alert /can expect what to see along the way.

    There are always some unknown/uncontrollable factors in a trip but one does try to choose the best cycling seasons for an area.
    My Personal blog on cycling & other favourite passions.
    遙知馬力日久見人心 Over a long distance, you learn about the strength of your horse; over a long period of time, you get to know whatís in a personís heart.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Concord, MA
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    I agree Shootingstar, in that we try to minimize some things and maximize others. Unlike you, though, I do better when I know what is coming. I did not like it on our first cycling tour in Europe, (with Trek Travel) there some difficult climbs duly noted on the cue sheets, but they often didn't tell you about the other difficult climbs that day. For example, one day started with a 7 mile climb. DH decided to do it, and I was one of the few who decided to go in the van. When the van passed DH, he was already on the down hill part, so they dropped me off and on we went. After lunch there were 2-3 more 15% climbs that we had no idea about. DH was really tired from the first one, causing the leaders to have a look of shock when I reached the top of the hill before he did. In this case, he might have made a different decision about the morning. I just know I do better "knowing," and having a very clear idea of where I am headed.
    So, our friends just left our house and we have decided on France. The weather looks like it is perfect at that time of year. We still need to get some more information about the Ciclismo trip to France, but although it's a ride across the country, the daily mileage doesn't seem onerous. We will make our decision by November, to get the early bird discount on either of the trips.
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