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Inspiration, Stories / May 11, 2020

Bike Tour Memories: the Finale

Here’s the final collection of bike tour memories submitted by our clients.

Thanks again to our BikeTours.com family for sharing all the wonderful photos, memories, videos, stories, and more!

Group travel memories

From: Sue Brett

The Herron group has traveled with BikeTours.com many times over the years, here are photos from their more recent travels.

2018 – Loire Valley, France
2019 – A Taste of Italy: Emilia Romagna

Rioja: Hidden Spain, Land of Wine, and Memories to Cherish

From: Mari M.

Last September, my husband & I gathered a group of friends – from my high school days and from his college days – to go on a bike tour. We didn’t really have a specific plan laid out, where to go, or when to go. The pitch was simply: “We love self-guided bike tours! Join us – it’ll be fun!”

Years ago, during freshman year summer break, my husband & his college friend Rahul (now his triathlon buddy) had been on a bike tour through the French Burgundy region. Years later, my then-not-yet-husband & I went on our first bike tour along the Adriatic Sea from Venice to Porec. And more recently, my husband cycled through Portugal with his teenage cousins. We both had fond memories: sweating out the morning, resting our legs at picturesque views, filling up our stamina with a hearty meal, casually biking on our full stomachs, stopping for a pick-me-up coffee, stopping again for a frosty ice cream, hurriedly cycling to make it to our destination before the sunset, ripping off our sticky bike gear for a refreshing shower, exploring the nightlife on our sore legs, and crashing for a good night’s rest. Repeat.

But it had been years since I had been on a bicycle. Soon after moving to San Francisco, I had gotten into one of those oh-so-common wheel-stuck-in-the-trolley-line accidents, injuring my shoulder and knee. Biking was no longer a part of my daily commute and I was too scared to hop on for a weekend bike ride ever again. I was terribly out of shape. My high school friend, Steve – the epitome of a marathoner’s physique – also hadn’t been on a bike for years. And my husband’s other college friend, Zain: we had seen him biking with his girlfriend along Ocean Beach so simply assumed he’d be up for a week-long cycling trip. So at the very minimum, I was terrified of having to push my bike uphill while the triathloners zoomed past at competition speed, only minutes later waving obnoxiously (only my husband, not Rahul) at the top of the hill as I painfully inched forward.

As I clicked through BikeTours.com, I spotted the Rioja: Hidden Spain, Land of Wine tour: 5-star reviews, Level 2 difficulty [“Recreational: You can navigate longer distances and occasional rolling hills”], Rioja (where none of us had been before) and, of course, wine!

This seemed perfect for our group – especially, the wine part. We all said, “Yes!”

The first couple days ended up not quite being the “occasional rolling hills” our butt cheeks had signed up for and the wine was flowing less freely than my quenched throat would have liked. Steep climbs through the Cantabrian Mountains shocked our bodies and I started to doubt I could make it to day 7. Soon enough though we had established a solid team rhythm and had perfected our “Car up! Car back!” relay messages. Of course, it helped that we had the road mostly to ourselves to fly down and chug up with somewhat reckless abandon (I definitely zig-zagged widely to get up some of the steep stretches).

From the steep hills out from the city, we followed the rolling hills through the canyons, breezy turns along the Ebro River, and flat stretches through the vineyards. We stopped by each small town, relying on our Spanish-speaking buddies to hunt down our new favorite snack: morcilla blood sausages. We imbibed on Garnacha, Tempranillo and Viura varietals at family-run wineries like Bodega Moraza and devoured plates of jamon iberico, croquetas, and patatas at local gems like Asador Jose Mari. At day’s end, we melted in the comfort of homemade meals. At Hotel Romanca, we were wined and dined by Chef Alberto who introduced us to the incredible tenderness of wine-braised beef cheeks (I’ve tried twice and failed to re-create the dish at home). And at Posada Molino del Canto, we were regaled by the innkeeper’s young daughter practicing English with us as his wife poured tastings of her herb-infused spirits. We made friends along the way – banding together with another couple on our morning rides and post-ride food adventures in search of pintxos and even more morcilla blood sausage. By the last day, I was happy – happy to tear off my sticky socks one last time and happy to finally sleep in late without the 8 am luggage cut-off – but even happier to see us all together having accomplished one epic adventure, cheering with our glasses brimming with Tempranillo wine: Salud, we did it!

Looking back now, I reminisce of those happy moments we shared – and grateful for this journey together with friends whose smiles I hope to see again in the flesh, less than 2-meters apart.

Happier days!

From: Paula Seliga

Our bike ride in Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia last June. Happier days!

Chateaus, food, and wine

From: Mark and Marion Van Kirk


[We took] a wonderful self-guided bike tour in the spring of 2018 in the Loire River Valley in France. [We] enjoyed the beautiful Chambord Chateau as well as the fantastic food and wine and many beautiful cities along the way.


Father and son time

From: Dan Kling

My story isn’t so much about the places, but rather about who I cycled with. Living in Florida, I have visited my son in Colorado a few times for long biking weekends. During those trips, I talked up the possibility of the two of us doing a cycling trip in Europe. Much to my surprise and delight, on a phone call one day, he said: “So are we doing the Germany trip at the end of the summer?”

I immediately contacted BikeTours.com who I had previously found on the internet. Brittany led me through the process offering practical suggestions and covering all the details. She and the team were a pleasure to deal with. We decided on the self-guided Munich to Salzburg ride. Even though we got lost a couple of times, including having to traipse back up a 14% grade [hill] due to one wrong turn, the trip was amazing. After spending a night in Salzburg, we hopped on a train to spend a couple of days in Vienna. It was beyond our expectations. Even though the towns and countryside in Germany and Austria were astounding, nothing can top spending the week cycling with my son!

Once back at our respective homes and jobs, we continued to talk about our wonderful biking experience. Having had the taste of one bike tour, we started talking about another. So two years later, we did the self-guided Bolzano to Venice tour. Liv was our advisor this time. And again, great service and help. We still managed to make a couple of wrong turns, but that’s all part of the adventure.

Both trips were great. Not just because of where we went, but mostly because I got to spend this valuable time with my son. He is getting married later this year, but I’m hoping 2021 might be a chance to spend another week pedaling with my best buddy.

Closing thought: If at all possible, spend an extra day or two before and after each ride to explore the area. In Munich, we sat in with a German family and a couple from Rome for dinner at a beer hall. In Bolzano – [we] rented a car and took a day trip to explore the Great Dolomites Road.

What an adventure!

From: Barbara Titus

We rode from Innsbruck to Salzburg with a group from our bike club, the New Mexico Touring Society, last summer. What an adventure! And we could not have been any more pleased with all aspects of our self-guided tour. Having our luggage carried for us was quite a treat, and the hotels and meals were excellent. The scenery was stunning, and every day brought something wonderful. I am so glad that we rode with BikeTours.com and hope to do so again.

You might also enjoy:
Bike Tour Memories: A Second Helping
Bike Tour Memories: Poetry Edition
Bike Tour Memories: Round Three
Bike Tour Memories: Family Edition
Bike Tour Memories: Round Four

If you have a memory you’d like to share, email us: tailwinds@biketours.com.

Tags from the story:

Client profiles, Loire Valley, Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Spain

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