Modest cycling tours through Europe

May 5, 2004
Outside Magazine
Week of July 24-30, 1997
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Modest cycling tours through Europe
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Modest cycling tours through Europe
Question: I am itching to go away, and hoping to plan a trip for this July, August, or September for two weeks. I ultimately would like to join a cycling tour through Europe. I want one that is inexpensive — around $1,000, not including the flight. I would like to do aggressive riding (50-plus miles a day). Another avenue is mountain biking. I've looked into Africa, but the flights would put me way over budget. I guess I am looking for any information on inexpensive, but not overly cushy, tours. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

Jeanine Merrigan
Brookline, MA
[email protected]

Adventure Adviser: You'd think pedaling your own way across the Continent would make for a wallet-friendly vacation. Not true. Sign up for the average 10-day guided bike tour through Europe and you'll be forking out $2,000 to $3,000 for plush chateaux, frequent wine-tastings, and five-star restaurants. That said, there are bargains to be had — as long as you're willing to make some compromises.

REI Adventures, for example, is running an affordable 10-day tour through France's Loire Valley this summer and early fall for $1,350 per person. The only hitch? Daily ride distances top off at around 35 miles. REI's 14-day cycling trip through Eastern Europe's Czech and Slovak Republics features slightly longer days (45 miles) and is still a great deal at $1,750. Both inn-to-inn trips are van-supported and include bikes at no extra charge. Call 800-622-2236 for dates.

Another great option is Backroads' camping trips, which run throughout Europe all summer long and probably offer the most variation in daily mileages. On their eight-day camping trip through Germany and Austria, for example, you can choose the 25-mile or the 65-mile route to the next campground. Trip cost is a reasonable $1,148 per person (plus $129 for bike rental); opt for the inn-to-inn version of the same ride from Bavaria to the Danube and it'll run you $2,298. Call Backroads at 800-462-2848.

Finally, if you're determined to lose the tour group, consider signing on to one of Gerhard's Bicycle Odysseys. They offer self-guided cycling trips through Denmark, Norway, Germany, Switzerland, and France, in which they provide daily route directions and descriptions, set you up with nightly accommodations in family-run pensions, and shuttle your luggage. Self-guided tours are offered on a weekly basis all summer long and range in price from $1,065 to $1,990 per person. Call 503-223-2402.

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