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TDF 2004(3 posts)

TDF 2004Bacco
Aug 5, 2003 1:35 PM
I'd be interested in any recommendations from those who went to this year's TDF for good tour companies (biking or not). I want to book a tour for next year's TDF.
re: TDF 2004stik__boy
Aug 5, 2003 2:24 PM
a co-worker of my wifes went with Trek Travel---- i'll find out what he thought.... all i know so far is that he slept very little!!! 4-5 hours a night.
re: Some Tipsteoteoteo
Aug 5, 2003 2:38 PM
Here are some tips that I think will help in your search.

First and foremost is cost. The more you spend doesn't always guarantee the more you get. Most people have a point where the lines of service expectations and costs intersect. From looking at MULTIPLE companies you should be able to find where the lines cross for you personally. Then compare the companies in you price range and compare service levels.

How many meals are provided? Also don't percieve ALL meals provided as a good thing--what if the restaurants they pick suck--it happened to me as a guest of one company in the past. As a general rule all Breakfasts are included at your hotel, sometimes lunch and sometimes Dinner.

Do they build and box you bike? Do they have expereienced mechanics on staff? Maybe you don't need one maybe your a great wrench yourself.

What is the staff to guest ratio? Look in the neighborhood of 5/6 guests to 1 staff member. I am a veteran guide and to do things right you must have adequate staff and the right mix. One mechanic can't keep up 40 bikes and what if only one guide speaks French. Also ask about emergency and first aid training.

Are the rides taylored to your riding style and does the demographic of the companies guests match you? If your a 25 mph hammerhead, then 10-12 mph guests that stop
for pictures and water every 2 miles won't be fun for you. Also think about the total number of rides and the mileage.

Ask about perks like road support. Will they have vans sagging or carrying extra clothes? Do you even need this kind of thing? Think about vans on the mountain for key mountain stages--so you can stash cameras, clothes, extra's and not carry them on your bike.

Ask how long they have been doing trips TO THE TDF--I know of at least 3 companies that did their very first trips in 2003--all because demand is so over the top. Be careful becuase planning a trip in France that revolves around the strict timelines of the TdF is VERY different from leisurely wine tastings in Napa Valley. Companies with longer track records get the better hotels for instance because they use them over and over, think about seeing Alpe d Huez with someone who has been on the mountain as opposed to someone that has only scouted it on a map. Somebody that can look at a stage and know where the traffic jams will occur and how to avoid them. This kind of stuff is important because you can't ride to and from every stage every day.

I guess I am getting carried away but all this info will help.