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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
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    759

    Best Bike Touring Groups?

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    The other thought is to do it with a group. They seem to get pricey. Any experiences that any of you can share?

    Thanks!

    Lisa
    Lisa

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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Virginia's Blue Ridge
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    500
    I had a great experience with Womantours five years ago on the Natchez Trace tour. Not inexpensive, certainly, but I was celebrating my 50th and decided to splurge. We stayed at lovely inns, ate well, saw beautiful scenery, and felt supported every inch of the way. Both guides were terrific. I'll definitely sign up for another trip with them.
    "If there are no dogs in heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went." (Will Rogers)

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Concord, MA
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    13,143
    I've had varying experiences with different companies. I loved the leaders and food from Trek Travel, but not so much the people on the trips. We did 2 trips with Classic Adventures; the first was great and the second was horrible. The trip was rainy and we got lot of flats. The owners, (well the wife), drove the support van right past my friend who was by the side of the road, struggling with her tire.
    My favorite so far is Cycling Country, which is based in Alhama, Spain and they do trips in Spain, Potugal, and the UK. The owners are from London and Canada, gave up the corporate life to start the company. The trips don't have a lot of people, and draw an international crowd. It felt warm and personal. We even got to meet their 3 year old daughter when we rode to Alhama. We are going to do a trip with them next fall (Lisbon to the Spanish border).
    DH and I typically don't ride with a group on these tours, but in Spain we did some of the time. The first Trek Travel tour we did was justa weekend in VT., so we could drive there and "test" them out. Half the participants were from the Midwest, and were unprepared for the cold weather in October. They made fun of our winter gear at first, but when it was 38 in the morning and misty, they shut up. They also tried to start political conversations about controversial subjects (i.e. pro-life). On our other trip with Trek in the Czech Republic, half of the 20 people were friends from college from 25 years ago. All they did was drink. The rest of the people were racer types. I had not been riding that long then and I was not happy. But the history, restaurants, and knowledge of the leaders sort of cancelled that out.
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  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Western Canada-prairies, mountain & ocean
    Posts
    6,982
    Itself, don't know where you are located.

    But Velo Quebec, is both Quebec's cycling advocacy group AND they organize paid group bike tours in Canada, part of the U.S. and Europe. Yes, amazingly. Don't worry, most Quebecois who travel are bilingual. Check out their web site.
    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.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Katy, Texas
    Posts
    1,828
    have done three cross countries and several shorter trips with Woman Tours and thoroughly enjoyed them. More short ones are in my future. Yes they are a bit pricey but it is so worth it to me to be able to just ride, eat, and sleep with a group of like minded females. Long live mommy camp. Id rather do a Wt ride than any other sort of vacation, spa or anything else. For a mixed group the SAG guy and I have done 1 tour with Sojourn Adventures which was also lovely and not quite as pricey.
    marni
    Katy, Texas
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  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Concord, MA
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    13,143
    Just ask a lot of questions and research. Call references. I would not be able to stand a "mommy camp" atmosphere. Even the words give me the creeps. We're all different and that's why you should make a very informed choice.
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  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Between the Blue Ridge and the Chesapeake Bay
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    5,226
    Quote Originally Posted by Crankin View Post
    Just ask a lot of questions and research. Call references. I would not be able to stand a "mommy camp" atmosphere. Even the words give me the creeps. We're all different and that's why you should make a very informed choice.
    I agree. I have steered away from WT because they "encourage" participants to switch roommates every night so that everyone gets to know everyone else. To some that might be great, but I'm a Single Supplement gal and need my alone time, especially in the evenings. The more tours I've done, the more I appreciate self-guided tours where it's just me and a map. "Mommy Camp" sounds dreadful, as I presume there would be no place for someone who does not have/never has had/never will have/never wanted children.

    So do your research and know thyself!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Western Canada-prairies, mountain & ocean
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    choice.
    I agree. I have steered away from WT because they "encourage" participants to switch roommates every night so that everyone gets to know everyone else.
    I like sharing with other people who I know already before a trip...maybe I'm just particular. Chances are, I will jive with 1 or 2 out of a whole bunch of women. But I didn't know this practice of theirs and will ask someone who I know did 2 of WT's tours.
    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.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Concord, MA
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    Yuck. I'm too old for roommates, except for my DH. I don't do bunkhouses, either. Sleeping in a mixed gender group setting with a bunch of strangers during my AMC leadership training sucked. I didn't sleep for 48 hours.
    I like camping, but again, only with close friends, or family. And, frankly, I don't do so well with a large group of women, unless they are already people I know.
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  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Posts
    28
    We are booked for the Tuscany trip next year with Trek Travel. After researching we chose them for the following reasons:
    1. They are the only company I found that has a vested interest in making sure you have awesome equipment for the trip. i.e. they are hoping you buy a bike from them. An expensive bike trip with crummy equipment would be awful.
    2. My research said, 'oh trek travel, they just took the best of everyone else and packed it into their own company'. Sounds like a plus to me.
    3. For our work we spend a lot of time in hotels. When on vacation I absolutely don't want to stay in a stinky, old hotel room.
    4. Very professional and organized. Their staff were a great help answering questions.

    Hoping it turns out being a good choice. There are 6 in our group going.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Concord, MA
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    There are other companies that provide the same level of service as Trek, who don't have the vested interest of selling you a bike... Backroads and Ciclismo Classico are 2. They also have excellent bikes. Backroads now gives you a choice of upgrading to a Specialized Ruby.
    I liked the Trek trips we took. I did not like the participants!
    This is one of the reasons I built a custom bike with couplers that I can take on bike trips. I may or may not do this for my trip to Portugal. Cycling Country now has access to Trek bikes, instead of the Orbeas we had last time. If they can get me a 47 cm wsd Trek, my own bike will stay home.
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  12. #12
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Posts
    1,063
    Travelling with groups can be great fun; some are pricey; others not so much. In the end, it is the makeup of the group that makes or breaks the group experience.

    For us, while we've encountered exceptions to the rule, generally speaking if the company is about cycling as a way to travel and explore, we enjoy the company of the group; if cycling is secondary to the "vacation experience", we find there is a higher the probability that you have group members that tend to be....uh...err...for lack of a better term...demanding. These are the type of people who are too worried about getting the most for their money than going with the flow of the trip. For example, we were in Spain, in the heart of the Rioja wine region and one of the guests was bemoaning to everyone and anyone his inability to get a good Scotch and how much it cost him for the mediocre one they sold him. Really? Try the Rioja, dude, it is fantastic!

    But, I digress. Check with people you would like to travel with and see what groups they like. Make a list of what you're looking for in a trip. Going with a well known company like Trek Travel, Backroads, or Sojourn will probably guarantee you a well organized trip with great guides. But don't discount smaller groups. UW-Stevens Point Adventure Tours, Timberline and PAC Tour are some of our favorite groups--all seem to attract a fun group of people, although we've encountered that "demanding" guest on them as well although not as often. And, if you do encounter them on a trip, you'll be amazed at how, an early start on the road gets you away from them; and maybe a dinner on your own one night to escape....go with (or in this case, against) the flow and enjoy the trip.

    Based on this thread, I'll be looking at Crankin's Cycling Country recommendation -- sounds like our kind of group. Thanks Crankin
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  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Concord, MA
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    You're welcome. You can tell Geoff and Maggie that Robyn sent you and he will know who it is...
    Funny, none of the people who bothered me on trips were of the type you describe, Thorn. They all were interested in riding. Some were stronger/racer types, and others were like me, good, but slower riders, and some were much slower, but still good, experienced riders. What bothered me was the drinking and other weirdness (we had one trip where the wife sat on her DH's lap and did a lap dance during the orientation, when there weren't enough chairs to go around ). And the Trek trips definitely had competitiveness in riding. I hate that, but back then I wasn't confident enough to ignore it. DH and I know we like to ride slowly on a tour, to see the stuff, especially the big climbs. I made it through a 10 mile climb that is part of the Vuelta a lot of years; the only way for me to do that is to do it slowly, like 3-6 mph slowly. Somehow, the group in Spain really clicked and we rode together, a lot.
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  14. #14
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Western Canada-prairies, mountain & ocean
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    And, frankly, I don't do so well with a large group of women, unless they are already people I know
    I'm fine with day group women-only rides. But hanging out day after day with large groups of women who I don't know/hardly at all for long periods, does tend to make me crawl into a rabbit hole from the standpoint of socializing. Strange that I would be like this....I grew up surrounded by 4 sisters.. and I've always liked their company.

    A good friend of mine did 2 Women Tours on bike ...1 via Glacier National Park, MT and another in the Carolinas. She enjoyed it a lot.
    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.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Posts
    3
    I have to tell you --- it's so nice to hear this from other women. I'm not anit-social but I don't like large groups of people I don't know and don't want to sleep or camp with them. In groups I can usually find 1 or 2 people I can connect with but I prefer the smaller more intimate groups. I thought I was an "odd ball" for feeling this way. So nice to hear others feeling the same way.

 

 

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