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Elizabeth Jun 3rd, 2002 10:02 AM

VBT or Backroads
I am planning a week bike trip to Europe for the week starting sometime between the end of June and late September (depending on tour availability, weather and airfare). I'd appreciate any comments, pros/cons, from anyone who's gone through VBT, Backroads or other tour group on any international trip(seems hard to go wrong). The destinations that I'm looking at are Loire Valley, Tuscan Coast, Umbria or the Cotswald Area (seems hard to go wrong). I'll be traveling alone, so perhaps one may be preferable. Also, I road bike and mountain bike a lot, but I don't need a challenge. Thanks!

Grandma Jun 3rd, 2002 04:11 PM

Tho I'm too old to bike, I found the VBT catalog very interesting and referred it to a younger friend.... female, physician, single. She went on several of their French and Italian tours and loved every single one (went back with her husband a few years later.)The people on her tours were so diverse and accomplished (mostly couples) that she found being a single traveler no drawback at all.

amy Jun 3rd, 2002 07:33 PM

Hi Elizabeth:<BR><BR>We will be taking our 4th biking tour with Backroads this summer and have taken other types of tours with other companies. Obviously, we've found it a great way to take summer trips.<BR><BR>Friends of ours who have also taken Backroads have equally enjoyed VBT. Fellow guests on our trips have often compared Backroads and B&R--general concensus was as great as B&R trips are, it's really not enough of a quality difference to justify price differential. <BR><BR>The best part of a group trip is that the logistics aren't your problem. Shuttling from hotel to hotel or biking route to better biking route and arranging breakfast times are taken over by the company. If your bike breaks, they have to fix it. <BR><BR>Even though I'm a control freak, I love not having to make decisions on these trips. The only advance decision you have to make is what you intend to wear that day. Most bike companies provide options: easy, medium and hard on some or all of the biking days. You don't have to decide which option you'll take until you know how you feel that day. <BR><BR>Some people take whole days off from biking. Others, like my husband, ask the guides for more miles they can do on their own--a great situation when I just want a nice bath. <BR><BR>In general, the guests who go on these trips want to do, to meet, to eat, etc. Energy is a neat thing to experience. They tend to be well-educated.<BR><BR>The bad: if you hate the hotel, you can't leave. If you hate someone on the trip, it's hard to get away. You are trapped by other guests' biorhythms: some are perpetually late, others try to rush everyone,etc.<BR><BR>We biked the Loire with Backroads and really liked it--good accomodations, very enjoyable biking (bits of hard, long stretches of easy), and of course, good food.<BR><BR>I don't see being single as a problem on the trips at all. The guides, as far as I can recollect, have all been single, and they "fit" perfectly at the dinner table and on the bike routes. I can't see why that wouldn't work just as well with you.<BR><BR>For some other details, do a search with "biking." If I find the thread where I listed all the email addresses for all the companies, I'll top it for you.<BR><BR>Good luck!<BR>

Elizabeth Jun 3rd, 2002 08:39 PM

Thanks! Great comments. <BR><BR>Amy, I read the past thread containing your listing of places and e-mail addresses after posting this. It's all been helpful-thanks! <BR><BR>I love Europe and want to go everywhere. However, I've decided on The Tuscan Coast with VBT for mid September, at least this time :).

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