I believe that a bike ride is one of the best ways to experience a new area. One can cover a decent amount of ground in a relatively short period of time without missing the nooks and crannies that make different cities so unique and interesting. We usually rent a bike and ride around a new town (see “biking shots from around the world” gallery below) for at least one day when travelling, but I found myself wanting to make biking a main focus of a trip. I had thoughts of a DIY trip and researched locations, maps, blogs, and infrastructure and soon realized that our limited time (1 week) and desire to go to central Europe would best be served by a formal tour operator. After much research I found a Prague to Vienna 5 day trip by Trek Travel that looked perfect. I waited for the perfect moment to pitch the idea (and price tag) to A (during a beautiful Midwestern fall bike ride) and she was in.
We flew into Prague a day early and met our guides at a local hotel early the next day. We were shuttled to Český Krumlov where we stayed for two days before biking to Austria. Our final two nights were located in Dürnstein. At the end of the ride we were shuttled to Vienna where we spent a final night before heading home.
Each morning began at a boutique hotel with a solid breakfast followed by a debriefing about the day’s rides. Bikes were fitted at the start of the journey and were tuned up by one guide while the other prepared a spread of fruit, granola bars, snack mix, drinks, and salt tabs. Items were available to enjoy immediately or carry with you. Given the availability of the SAG wagon it wasn’t necessary to carry anything, really.
[Video credit: music by Tom Rosenthal, “Go Solo”; but I’d recommend you “Go with Trek”]
Trek takes great pride in the quality of their guides and carefully selects and trains them. Our two guides were some of the best we’ve had in any travel setting. One guide would bike and one guide would drive the SAG wagon. The SAG wagon would drive around to check on riders and stop at predetermined areas (such as top of climbs or in front of particularly scenic overlooks) to set up a delicious spread of food and drinks. The guides were very accommodating with any and every request from bicycle changes, to specific foods/drinks for the rides, to alternative activities if we weren’t feeling up to a full day of biking (we opted for a river rafting trip one afternoon in the Czech Republic—a highlight of the week).
The roads chosen for riding were scenic and very lightly traveled by car (many were bikes/pedestrians only). There were several routes to choose from each day (light, regular, & avid). Highlights of the routes included climbing through dense forests, crossing the Czech/Austrian border, and cycling along the Danube through the vineyards of the Wachau Valley.
The dinners provided were outstanding and the lunches were in unique locations with delicious local food options. A buffet breakfast was provided at the hotels every day.
Trek has also done an excellent job providing various unique experiences including evening walking tours with locals and private wine cellar tours and tastings after hours. If you don’t feel like riding all day every day options are available to raft in the Czech Republic or hike the Dürnstein ruins. These meals, accommodations, routes, and experiences are thoroughly and accurately outlined in their itinerary. In addition there are several “surprise” events/activities/stops that are not listed to provide “wow” moments throughout the trips (spoiler alert: brunch and champagne next to the Danube).
We were looking forward to meeting a group of strangers with a shared interest in travel and biking, however any Trek Tour can be made into a private tour for a fee. Tour group sizes vary depending on the trip from one (yes, some trips are guaranteed to run with one rider) to twenty. Our trip was made even more spectacular by the small group size (there were four of us total). The other couple was the coolest Australian couple you could imagine. They had just started biking on used, 20 year old bikes about twelve months prior to the trip. They loved it and decided to celebrate their recent empty nest with a bike tour.
I strongly recommend considering a Trek Travel bike tour if you have an interest in biking. It is a great way to see and experience amazing destinations worldwide. While there is a premium to do a guided tour, the high end bikes, excellent guides, selected experiences, and solid food and accommodations provide a great deal of value. This is especially true if you are travelling with limited amount of time, as we frequently are as MDs.
As my biking hero, Willie Weir, would say,
“Dream. Cycle. Repeat.”
For More information regarding bike trips through Trek Travel please see www.trektravel.com [Note: Sightsee MD has no financial affiliation with Trek Travel]