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cycling vacations
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My wife and I are thinking of a summer cycling vacation in Europe, preferably France or Italy. There are so many options and very different prices. It seems like organized tours, such as Trek Tours are very expensive - from $2500 to $5000 per person for a week. The trips sound awesome, but very expensive. Anybody ever do one of these? Was it worth it?

I was thinking a nice hotel with nearby biking might be a much better and less expensive choice. I'm looking for deserted roads, great scenery, and great food. There was a story on Ironmantalk's podcast about a hotel in the French Pyranees called Pyranees multisport that looks pretty cool. My internet search found a bunch of hotels in Italy that call themselves bike hotels. Anybody ever do anything like this?

Any other suggestions?

Thanks for any help.
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Re: cycling vacations [Jon] [ In reply to ]
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I did the Blue Marble tours trip to Provence. It was cheaper than what you are describing from Trek -- they offered a choice of hotels in some cities, provided no support during the day, and went to reasonble (but not fancy) restaurants for dinner. The itineraries were not very hard, but it is easy enough to tack on additional miles if you want -- we did Ventoux on a scheduled rest day. I thought it was a great experience. Their philosophy is that the cycling is a means to an end (exploring an area), not an end in itself. It helps to speak at least a little French, since you are on your own for lunch (and dinner two days out of seven) and you likely will have some navigation errors where you'd like some help from the locals. The standard Provence hotel's "continental" breakfast is not enough to sustain a full morning of cycling -- so you probably will need to supplement that a bit.
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Re: cycling vacations [Jon] [ In reply to ]
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I have never done an organized tour. I've past by too many of them where they all look like goobers. I think the bike hotels are a good idea. I think they are just regular hotels (all sizes) that advertise as being bike friendly. They started the same thing in Germany. We are headed there this summer with our 5 & 9 yr-old girls. Lots of planning to do.
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Re: cycling vacations [Jon] [ In reply to ]
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I've done 5 trips with Backroads. On the pricier end, but they are fully supported, most meals are covered, the inns are nice, and they move all your luggage for you. I have had great experiences each time! The best one so far was in Tuscany. I also loved the San Juan Islands. Have done biking in the Calif. wine country and multisport trips to Montana and Wyoming, too.

On the dork factor...sure, if you use their bike and helmet, and everyone matches, there is that. But at least with Backroads, you have the option of drop bars vs. upright. I bring my own helmet and shoes/pedals (or you can bring your own bike). And you do NOT have to stay together. On my Wine Country trip, it ended up being me and some guy riding out ahead and doing the long option each day, as the other people on the trip were not so much athletic. We had a blast!

Just my input. I really want to go back to Europe and ride. Oh, yeah, another reason for the tours for me, is that I'm single and this way I have instant riding buddies. Would be different if I had a travel partner (husband). But even so, I like how Backroads takes all the work out of the trip. You eat, ride, eat some more, sleep. :)
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Re: cycling vacations [Jon] [ In reply to ]
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"Was it worth it?"-like a lot of stuff discussed on this forum-that is relative and a matter of taste/opinion. I always stayed away from organized groups (because of money and wanting to do it my way) but two years ago got sucked in by a 10% discount coupon for a Trek tour and went on "Classic Climbs of the Tour" (the high end one-whatever they called that). Went by myself and had a fantastic time. Can't beat the nice hotels, guides, support and having a nice Trek bike racked and ready to go in the morning. Very diverse group of people (other, obviously, then the economic issue). I enjoyed the people and many of them had been on multiple trips of this type (of the 16 or so in the group, I think only two of us were virgins). Found that in addition to Trek, they traveled frequently with Backroads (as another poster has recommended). I think Trek is basically a spin off or based on Backroads. Rode on train back to Paris with a guy who had been on 16 trips with either Trek or Backroads (about half with his wife). I would love to go on another Trek cycling trip, but I prefer to cycle harder than my wife and family, so have to wait for another solo trip. Leave with family, however, first of April for second Backroads trip since the Trek trip. If this one (Belize) is as good as first one (Grand Canyon, Brice and Zyon) I will be very pleased. The money is a huge issue, but I think there are other less expensive groups.
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Re: cycling vacations [Jon] [ In reply to ]
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For the last two years we have been going to Riccione on the Adriatic Coast of Italt and staying at the Hotel Dory.(www.hoteldory.it)
Excellent food,accomodations and every day 3-4 different level of bike groups to ride with.Also there is an olympic swimming pool nearby if you want to squeeze in some swimming.
Both times we were there we met a group of triathletes from UK and ran and swim together after the rides.
I highly recommend the place and the prices will surprise you.

--------------------------------------------------------
I see obsessed people.
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Re: cycling vacations [doubleplay] [ In reply to ]
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That was actually one of the places I saw on the internet, Thanks.
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Re: cycling vacations [Jon] [ In reply to ]
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I used to work for a couple of different bike touring companies and I definately think you get what you pay for. Both Backroads and Trek Travel offer great hotels and fully supported rides. Trek has better bikes, but Backroads is better for mixed level groups as they really cater to the lower level cyclist (and as an experienced cyclist they let you ride as much as you want).

For this year I'm planning a trip with 8 friends to the Giro and we're hiring a van and driver from Experience Plus but are planning our own itinerary.

It takes more planning on our end but I like having someone to drive our luggage etc. between towns
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Re: cycling vacations [Jon] [ In reply to ]
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In Reply To:
I was thinking a nice hotel with nearby biking might be a much better and less expensive choice. I'm looking for deserted roads, great scenery, and great food. There was a story on Ironmantalk's podcast about a hotel in the French Pyranees called Pyranees multisport that looks pretty cool. My internet search found a bunch of hotels in Italy that call themselves bike hotels. Anybody ever do anything like this?

Any other suggestions?

Thanks for any help.


Some suggestions in the French Pyrenees (from a French rider) if you want to go on your own:

- http://www.relais-des-pyrenees.com/: this hotel is well located, near the best Pyrenees roads and passes (excellent location if you like high mountains roads: it is at the bottom of Tourmalet (the most famous Pyrennes pass, over 2.000 meters high)); it has specific facilities for riders (under the supervision of ex-pro French rider, Laurent Fignon): you'll get massage, trainer, training buddies, etc....There is traffic especially in the Summer.

- Argels-Gazost: this little town in very well located as well in the Pyrenees: it has plenty of relatively cheap hotels: the surroundings are just gorgeous for hiking and biking: you have some of the best Pyrenees passes and scenery around (excellent location as well if you like tough mountain roads). There is also traffic especially in the Summer.

- if you like deserted roads, I suggest you go on the East side of the Pyrenees (south of Carcassonne for instance) or in the Arige region. I do not have any hotel recommendations but I am sure you can find very nice hotels in the region at moderate prices with excellent food and wine. I do not think you need "bike hotels" to enjoy your vacation there. Any nice hotel will do the job!

Enjoy!!

PS: visit my blog: http://frenchcols.canalblog.com/ Your message inspired me to create it and I will keep working on it!
Last edited by: solarberg: Feb 5, 07 3:39
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Re: cycling vacations [Jon] [ In reply to ]
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I have now done 4 cycling vacations and have enjoyed all of them. My most recent was with Backroads in California and it was stellar. It is a great way to vacation, you don't have to worry about lodging, where to eat, etc.. All you do is ride and enjoy the scenery! And generally the people on tour are diverse and interesting, not "goobers" as mentioned by someone previously. I do take my helmet, saddle, and pedals. Even if you are a hard core cyclist there are plenty of distance options every day. Enjoy!
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Re: cycling vacations [Jon] [ In reply to ]
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I have heard there is a fabulous bike tour in Italy. Here is a link to the website. Check it out. There are beautiful pics and details. I have heard from other people that have been on several bike tours that this one in Italy is the best they have ever been on. It is very well organized and absolutely beautiful.

http://www.bicitreregioni.com/
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Re: cycling vacations [penelope] [ In reply to ]
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We rented a house in Luz Saint Sauveur during the tour last year. It is at the base, or short riding distance, from some of the epic climbs (luz ardiden, tourmalet, hautacom, aspin to name a few) and a very nice town. Go to luz.org for research. The tour typically will hit one or two of these climbs each year so the roads are in perfect shape. A lot of tours stay at Hotel Templiers. The owners (a local and australian) speak english and are excellent resources.
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Re: cycling vacations [tsdudley] [ In reply to ]
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Jon, I live in the UK and used to live in France. You are either one of those Americans who wants it all done for you in airconditioned hotels, and lots of other Americans to chat to, or you want to do your own thing.

There is a halfway house and that is to do a trip organised by someone like www.skedaddle.co.uk - I went with them to Baja California and had the trip of a lifetime. It is aimed a British clientele, but you get a mix of people, and get to see some great places.

I have toured twice recently with my girlfriend in France, and it is the world's best country for touring. Have a look here for some of my trip reports www.crazyguyonabike.com/julian

Personally I would go it alone. If you are feeling adventurous try Corsica - I am off there on 3 May for a week. See here for an idea of what it is like http://www.bikeadventures.co.uk/suppholinfocorsica.html and here for pics http://www.bikeadventures.co.uk/gallerycorsica.html
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Re: cycling vacations [Jon] [ In reply to ]
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 I very highly recommend Pyrenees Multisport. I know Ian and Julie and they were involved with Epic Camp summer 2006 and I know that Gordo, Scott and John were very pleased with them. Plus, Ian is a fellow STer.

http://www.pyreneesmultisport.com/

clm

clm
Nashville, TN
https://twitter.com/ironclm | http://ironclm.typepad.com
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Re: cycling vacations [ironclm] [ In reply to ]
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Thanks. Do you know how the area is for stuff other than biking?
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Re: cycling vacations [ike] [ In reply to ]
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I recommend http://www.thegregario.com. It only offers tours in the east of Spain but they are fully customized. The riding there is spectacular. several professional teams do their winter training in that area because of the combination of mild weather, mountains, ocean and quality of roads. The vacations there are very high end and include everything (lodging in a 5 star hotel by the beach, all meals including some of the best local restaurants in the area, massages, cultural visits,... and the price is extremely affordable (2-3K for one week). Those tours started last year and it looks like they are growing in popularity. So my guess is that the price will increase in the future, but for now they are totally worth it.

The website is not great, but it contains tons of pictures and videos from previous trips I have done some of this trips with Backroads and Trek travel, and I have to say that The Gregario is a much better value today.

My 2 cents.
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Re: cycling vacations [RFA] [ In reply to ]
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Have a look at https://www.roamfrance.com
I haven't done any of their trips, but I know the owner, he is a great guy, used to own a nice bike shop in Baltimore, but decided to move to France and do this.

----------------------------
http://www.cyclewisecoaching.com
http://www.instagram.com/cyclewise
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Re: cycling vacations [Jon] [ In reply to ]
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My wife and I went to Italy last Spring and watched the final week of the Giro through Italy Bike Tours. That's actually us in the picture for "The Last Week" option.

https://www.italybiketours.co.uk/giro-ditalia

We did a ton of research and this was BY FAR the most bang for your buck. Not sure what the pricing structure is for this year but for the 2 of us the total came out to just over $5k. This included 5 days of riding with rides ranging from 25 miles to 60 miles (and tons of elevation gain), 7 nights in pretty nice hotels (nothing crazy fancy but all quality hotels), meals, brand new Bianchi Aria bikes w/ Ultegra, incredible former world tour guides, and VIP hospitality access to a mountain top finish stage along with other pre arranged Giro stage watching areas. It was truly incredible and I would absolutely go back again in a heartbeat. For the most part we didn't spend a penny while we were with the group. Just typing this up makes me very tempted to book another trip next year...
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Re: cycling vacations [Jon] [ In reply to ]
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So I could be considered biased but I spend every summer in Lucca, Italy. I think this small town near Pisa is heaven on earth. Many professional riders base out of here. I see Ben King at my favorite shop Chrono run by Paladino Meschi (Pala) frequently as well. Pala has launched a bike touring company in the last couple of years. Check out the website: https://www.chronoplus.com/

The most unique thing about this tour company is it is 100% local italian through and through. You are not getting some big box multinational touring company that swoops into a local region and pretends to give you the "local" experience. Pala grew up in Lucca and raced as a domestic pro. He literally knows everyone in Lucca and that makes a world of difference. He will provide you with access to the most authentic experience of italian life while there. You will eat at the best local restaurants where he is friends with the owners (these restaurants are getting recognized such as Il Giglio (michellin 1 star) and he will more importantly order the real specialties that the Luchesse are famous for (cuisine that you would not know exists). More importantly Pala is an amazing human being...kind, genuine. He is the primary reason that we return to Lucca annually. PM me if you want more info.

BTW Pala only provides Pinarellos if that makes a difference to you.
Last edited by: gasman: Oct 18, 19 7:56
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Re: cycling vacations [Jon] [ In reply to ]
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I have done the Catlunya / Girona area 2 years in a row. Absolutely the best cycling I have ever done. Drivers expect cyclists on the road and it is really easy to get onto rural roads with little to no traffic. Heard southern France is amazing but have not ridden there. I recommend without hesitation the Girona area. You see pro cyclists nearly every time you are out, can go flattish to the coast or into the Pyrennes simply amazing.
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Re: cycling vacations [Jon] [ In reply to ]
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to follow up we never did anything organized. Relied on Strava and google maps to set our rides. No problems.
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Re: cycling vacations [solarberg] [ In reply to ]
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solarberg wrote:
In Reply To:

I was thinking a nice hotel with nearby biking might be a much better and less expensive choice. I'm looking for deserted roads, great scenery, and great food. There was a story on Ironmantalk's podcast about a hotel in the French Pyranees called Pyranees multisport that looks pretty cool. My internet search found a bunch of hotels in Italy that call themselves bike hotels. Anybody ever do anything like this?

Any other suggestions?

Thanks for any help.



Some suggestions in the French Pyrenees (from a French rider) if you want to go on your own:

- http://www.relais-des-pyrenees.com/: this hotel is well located, near the best Pyrenees roads and passes (excellent location if you like high mountains roads: it is at the bottom of Tourmalet (the most famous Pyrennes pass, over 2.000 meters high)); it has specific facilities for riders (under the supervision of ex-pro French rider, Laurent Fignon): you'll get massage, trainer, training buddies, etc....There is traffic especially in the Summer.

- Argel�s-Gazost: this little town in very well located as well in the Pyrenees: it has plenty of relatively cheap hotels: the surroundings are just gorgeous for hiking and biking: you have some of the best Pyrenees passes and scenery around (excellent location as well if you like tough mountain roads). There is also traffic especially in the Summer.

- if you like deserted roads, I suggest you go on the East side of the Pyrenees (south of Carcassonne for instance) or in the Ari�ge region. I do not have any hotel recommendations but I am sure you can find very nice hotels in the region at moderate prices with excellent food and wine. I do not think you need "bike hotels" to enjoy your vacation there. Any nice hotel will do the job!

Enjoy!!

PS: visit my blog: http://frenchcols.canalblog.com/ Your message inspired me to create it and I will keep working on it!
Strongly agree on the Ariege region.Some friends own https://bedbreakfastbikespyrenees.com/ based 5 minutes out of Foix and it is affordable and fantastic. There are dozens and dozens of categorised climbs in the area, with Plateau de Beille, Ax 3 Domanes, Col de Pailheres just a few of the well known climbs less than an hours drive away. There's also some great historical towns in the area like Carcassone (absolutely stunning ride there too) and Mirapoix while Toulouse is just over 1 hour away by train. They also have a selection of good rental bikes if necessary and are more than happy to do day trips with notice.

If you're thinking French Alps, look at https://www.morethan21bends.com/ based in Bourg d' Oisans. They are slightly pricier, but have several holiday apartments available that can also host more than one couple if you need. They do can also do organised day trips and bike rental (they're also a bike shop). You'll be at the base of Alpe d'Huez and the Col de Sarenne, with the Galibier, Croix de Fer, La Berarde and plenty of others right on the doorstep.

In Italy I recommend looking at https://www.italybikehotels.com/, they are just about everywhere there is good riding, and also do bike rental and half board accommodation. I've stayed at https://www.dolcicolli.com/en which is one of their hotels and it was excellent - 5 minutes from the shores of Lake Garda, within riding distance of Verona and Bergamo, and just over an hour by train to Milan. You have the option of riding with a guide, as well as bike rental (I rented a Cervelo C3, which was perfect for the 3-4 hour rides on often poor roads). The rooms were very good and the meals were excellent.

Hope this gives you some good ideas.
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Re: cycling vacations [42x16ss] [ In reply to ]
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I debated taking an organized bike tour through the Dolomites in 2018 but couldn’t justify the $4k cost per person for a week. We ended up staying at bike hotels instead and were able to spend 2 weeks for half the cost per person.

Check out Hotel Melodia del Bosco in Badia and Hotel Funivia in Bormio. Both hotels included breakfast and dinner, bike rentals and guides. Cannot say enough good things about both hotels and the riding options in each location including Stelvio, Gavia, Mortirolo, Giau, Sellaronda loop, etc.
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Re: cycling vacations [Jon] [ In reply to ]
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I have gone on four trips with Thomson Bike Tours (https://www.thomsonbiketours.com). Tour de France King of Alps (Ride/Watch), Trans Dolomites, Trans Austria, Trans Cantabria. I can not recommend them highly enough, especially if you really like riding your bike on some epic routes with full support. The tour groups are very turnkey and take care of everything. Be sure to look at the itinerary of the different groups for what you want. If you want a more casual and relaxed experience, such as long lunches, short days in the saddle, etc. then there are big differences in the various companies. I really like Thomson because of the quality of the routes, the guides are outstanding, always know they are there while riding, and take care of the riders. Yes, for me the money is worth it based on the areas I am traveling (and I am “lucky” that I have tons of air miles from work trips that I can usually get my airfare covered).

As for doing your own trip, depends on how comfortable you are as an International traveller. A work colleague and I rented a small trailer at a campsite for a few days outside of Borg d’Oisans for like 50 euro a night and rode in that area - epic and tons of routes. Biggest concern for us was having a catastrophic mechanical while on the “wrong side” of the mountain to home so we always were a downhill to civilization. Also, Lake Annecy area is absolutely beautiful and can ride to many climbs. In Italy I would look at Alleghe and Bormio and would have no problem doing my own trip there. Selle Ronda is an amazing route you could ride many times. I think Lake Garda has bike hotels. Mallorca is another place that you can do a lot of self guided as a good cycling area and we stayed in Spain at a bike/fitness hotel that had lockers, etc. Really depends on where you want to go but Europe has some excellent options.

Enjoy and feel free to PM if I can help.



I miss you "Sports Night"
Last edited by: Quo Vadimus: Oct 21, 19 4:08
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Re: cycling vacations [Jon] [ In reply to ]
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Zombie thread!

Anybody looking for a good bike tour should consider Wild Atlantic Cycling in Ireland. I did their 7 day tour the length of the island in 2018. Six days around 90 miles and the last day about 40 for 573 total. It was a fun rolling course, great people, good hotels, and a huge Irish breakfast every morning. Paul and his crew are just awesome. I was the only Yank on the ride, and really learned a ton of stuff. They also offer a 12 day tour for folks not wanting the high mileage. It is very reasonably priced.

---------------

"Remember: a bicycle is an elegant and efficient tool designed for seeking out and defeating people who aren't as good as you."

--BikeSnobNYC
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