My sister has been on at least 5 or 6 guided bike tours. Her undisputed favorite company is Backroads, which she is always recommending for my husband and me to take.
Only problem? It’s just a little cost-prohibitive. At an average price of $3,000+ per person, it’s just a little more than what we’d normally pay for a vacation. Not that I would ever turn down a Backroads trip if it were offered to me, mind you. And I don’t begrudge anyone who can afford this kind of holiday on a regular basis, my sister included. I’d also love to do web copywriting work for them if I had the chance. I’ve told more than one person they’d be my dream adventure travel company to work for.
Another issue is my hubby Rob. For someone who’s ventured on his own with bike trips around the South of France, the Netherlands and the Costa Brava in Spain, he believes he’d be absolutely stifled on a guided bike tour with complete strangers. But I won’t go completely independent like he did, camping in a tent and scrounging for a meal.
That’s why we love self-guided tours. It’s the ideal compromise.
Pure Adventures, a biking tour company in Scottsdale, AZ, details the five reasons why biking your way on your itinerary, more or less, is the way to go. These are pretty much the reasons why they’re my bike tour of choice.
- Flexibility – you get to choose your dates of travel, and you determine where you want to go and for how long.
- Affordability – self-guided tours usually cost a fraction of their guided counterparts.
- Privacy – you’re on your own or with friends and family, not with a group of people you’ve never met before.
- Convenience – your lodging is taken care of, and you have in-country experts recommending restaurants and points of interest, as well as places free from the tourist hoard.
- Staff Support – the onsite tour company staff can help your with your bike, and even pick you up if necessary.
We’re not going with Pure Adventures for our upcoming tour of Tuscany this July. Instead, we chose a smaller locally-owned company, Charnes Tours, who specialize and offer bike tours of this region only. But since we’re big fans of this kind of travel, we just might try them in the future, going someplace else.
Here’s a tour we took almost three years ago, in Sonoma County. It’s the quieter part of the California Wine Country, compared to the busier and more corporate Napa Valley. Even with the stifling heat beating down on us, and our willful ignoring of the whole “swirl and spit” tasting recommendation (so you don’t get too tipsy on your bike as you’re going from one winery to another), it was one of the best vacations Rob and I have taken together. Thanks to Wine Country Bikes in Healdsburg for such an awesome experience!
Andy’s Produce Market, Sebastopol. Probably the best I’ve been to (and I’ve seen a lot of them)
Trudging on my bike uphill to a winery…
…and I’m definitely NOT swirling and spitting!
We encountered scenery like this weathered old barn along the way.
Taking a rest on a bridge over the Russian River.
Can’t wait to see what our Tuscany tour brings. I’m hoping to keep posting here when we’re there!