A Typical Day of Touring with Discovery Bicycle Tours

A gorgeous day of cycling on our Cape Cod/Martha's Vineyard tour.

A gorgeous day of cycling on our Cape Cod/Martha’s Vineyard tour.

Every day on a Discovery Bicycle Tour is full of beautiful cycling and memorable experiences. We want all that you’ve ever imagined about a bicycle adventure to come true. With that being said, you might be wondering what a typical day on tour is actually like.

We start each day with a delicious breakfast around 8 AM. (Indeed, we believe our culinary experiences are a very important part of each tour!)

Are you an early bird? No worries! Coffee and tea are always available, and more often than not, one of your tour leaders would be delighted to head out with you for a pre-breakfast ride!

After breakfast, your tour leaders will give you their “map rap” where they will take the opportunity to talk with you about the route, what the day looks like and interesting places to stop. (Our 39 years of experience give us a huge advantage here – we know where to ride and all the hidden nooks and crannies, side roads and unique experiences that are available).  They’ll answer any questions you may have about the route, your bike, where we’ll have lunch, the weather etc… They are also very happy to give you cycling tips throughout your tour and will give you great tips on such things as how and when  to shift your bike, how to happily ride up (and down) hills, the most efficient way to pedal, and numerous other helpful suggestions.

Soon we are all on our bikes and head out generally between 9:00 and 9:30 AM. We encourage you to bike at a pace that is comfortable for you. We don’t ride as a group! Everyone has been given a set of maps and directions, so if you feel like stopping at any point, that’s great! There is so much to see!

Each day consists of a standard route, as well as optional mileages for those who feel like riding more. On the flip side, if you’ve had enough after riding 5, 10, 15 miles, that also is fine. The tour leaders are always in contact with you, and they can give you a ride in our van (which is also a traveling snack bar if you need an energy boost, bike shop in case you get a flat tire, and water stop to make sure your water bottle is never empty). We often meet up again for lunch, usually around 12:30-1:00 PM, at a wonderful, scenic picnic location or perhaps a local general store. After lunch, we hop on our bikes again for the afternoon ride.

Every day on tour consists of (always optional) opportunities for activities, guided tours and cultural visits, as well as vineyards for some great wine tastings and perhaps a stop at a local microbrewery.

Most folks are getting back to the inn between 3 PM and 5 PM, depending on how far (and at what pace) you’ve chosen to ride that day. A lot of folks like to take advantage of the amenities at the different inns, such as hot tubs, golf, hiking, or maybe just relaxing and “watching the pass”. Others will have chosen to ride some of the optional miles and might be getting back a bit later. At any rate, there’s always time for a shower, maybe a pre-dinner walk or cocktail, and then around 7:00 PM we have a very well-earned and delicious dinner after a great day of cycling!

Enjoy a nice soak after a day of cycling!

Enjoy a nice soak after a day of cycling!

Around 9:30 PM to 10:30 PM folks usually decide to “call it a day” and head to their room for the evening. And what could be better after a great bike ride, and a relaxing delicious dinner, than ending your day in the warm comfort of a room at one of our carefully selected inns.

 

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Discovery Bicycle Tours is a 2014 Magellan Award Winner!

Magellan Award

2014 TRAVEL WEEKLY MAGELLAN AWARDS WINNERS ANNOUNCED

GOLD AND SILVER WINNERS NAMED

Travel Weekly announced the winners of the 2014 Magellan Awards. With entries from across the U.S. and around the world, the Magellan Award winners represent the best in the travel industry and salute the outstanding travel professionals behind it all.

The Magellan Awards is the premier awards program honoring a broad range of industry segments including Hotels and Resorts, Travel Destinations, Cruise Lines, Online Travel Services, Airlines and Airports, Travel Agents and Agencies, Tour Operators and Car Rental Companies.,

Magellan Awards“People who enter the Magellans know they’re competing against a very talented and very creative group of individuals and agencies,” said Arnie Weissmann, editor in chief of Travel Weekly. “The travel industry marketers and designers who walked away with Magellan awards this year pushed themselves to new heights. When you look at the winning entries, you understand why consumers have been inspired to travel in numbers never seen before.”

The Magellan Awards are judged and overseen by a one-of-a-kind panel of top travel professionals representing the best names and most accomplished leaders from the industry. In determining winners, entries do not compete with one another, instead they are judged against a standard of excellence based on the long experience of Travel Weekly. To uphold this high standard of excellence, a category may have multiple winners, or no winners at all.

We’re honored to have been chosen again for the second year in a row and will continue our goal to move your imagination and dreams to the reality of a perfect experience on one of our tours. We’re passionate about this and aim to turn everyone into a huge fan!

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Bicycle Tours 101 – Easier Than You Think… And How They Work!

“This was one of the best vacations ever – and I am very well traveled. What made this bike tour special was a superb combination of great rides, great places to stay, amazing food and exceptional company. A bike tour is thinking out of the box! Whether you travel alone or as a couple, you will come away thinking, “Geez that was amazing! I should have done this years ago!”  Adam G. 2014

Discovery Bicycle Tours (formerly Bike Vermont) continues to get the most wonderful, amazing, positively glowing feedback from our guests. For those of you who have not yet had the opportunity to enjoy a bicycle tour (or for whatever reason are concerned about your ability level), please read below! Not only can you too do it…you will have the vacation of a lifetime!

Sunflower-cyclistsAlmost everyone can ride a bike. And that’s all you need to enjoy an inn-to-inn bicycle tour. It’s a great vacation – a healthy, affordable adventure, mixed with the comforts and hospitality of exceptional country inns, the delight of good food and pleasure of great company. And it’s easier than you think!

You ride at your own pace. No awards are given for finishing first in bicycle touring. The object of the game is to go at your own speed, to stop and enjoy the scenery, the villages, the people.

The “ride at your own pace” idea has made bicycle touring increasingly attractive to people of all ages and abilities. It’s really for everyone – couples, families, singles – and your enjoyment is not dependent on being in great shape. We tailor the trips to your ability and energy levels – and there is always the van to give you a lift.

An average day is about 25-30 miles. You don’t have to ride the whole way, as all days can be shortened if you want to do something else. For those who would like additional riding, there are optional miles almost every day that can add as much as 50 percent to the standard miles.

Our leaders and van take great care of you! Each tour has two tour leaders (unless it is a smaller tour and then there will be one leader) and there is always van support. Our vans carry your luggage, water to refill your bottle, snacks, purchases you make, and you, if you want a break from cycling. It is also a traveling bike shop carrying all kinds of tools and spare parts in case your bike needs some roadside attention.

Ride the most scenic, pleasurable and least-traveled biking routes available!  We do all of the route selection ourselves. This is a crucial part of your experience so be assured that every mile on every tour has been personally approved by us.

And bike tours are not only healthy, peaceful, comfortable and delicious, but affordable too! Discovery Bicycle Tours offers tours that range in length from weekend getaways (starting at $525) to their longest tour of El Camino de Santiago in Spain ($3295). There’s something for everyone! The tours tend to be small in size (never more than 20) and include dinners, breakfasts, lodging, taxes, gratuities, professional tour leaders, comprehensive maps and directions, full daily van support, high quality bicycle, helmets, free shuttles to and from the start of the tours, and depending on your tour, wine-tasting, professionally guided kayaking and entry fees to various sites. All you need to do is bring yourself…let us take care of everything!

Enjoyment of an inn-to-inn bicycling tour comes from the “total experience”. We suggest that you consider these essential factors when selecting a bike touring company for a quality experience.

 

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How to ride hills and enjoy them!

Slow and steady wins the race!Hills, mountains, passes, gaps, “the road to your house” (or whatever else one calls a road that climbs) often strike fear and anxiety in cyclists’ hearts and minds. This is especially true for new cyclists who often do anything they can to avoid them while out on a ride. IF THIS IS YOU, KEEP READING!

Once one has the proper gearing on their bike, knows how to effectively use all of those gears, and has a strategy for climbing – riding up hills can be fun, easy, and open up a world of cycling that many riders are missing.

HOW DO I KNOW THIS? Well, besides being a lifelong cyclist, I have spent the last 13 years leading inn-to-inn bike tours with Discovery Bicycle Tours, and have taught hundreds of inexperienced, and some experienced, bike riders to ride comfortably up hills that they never before thought possible.

There are several simple concepts to keep in mind that will help one ride comfortably up hill on a bike.

1) Accept the fact that the hill is in your life, and that the objective is not to ride up the hill as fast as you can to “get it over with”. This is the largest mistake many riders make. I would suggest making your objective to see how slow and comfortably you can ride up the hill. Also, don’t make the mistake of trying to match the speed of a faster rider who you might be riding with. Tell them to wait for you at the top! If they don’t want to do that, find some new riding partners!

2) Get into your lowest chainring before you start climbing the hill. Then all you have to worry about is your right hand which controls your rear gears. Then, in quick succession, quickly shift to your lowest gear, and see how slowly you can pedal your bike up the hill in your easiest gear. Do not equate easy pedaling with spinning your pedals quickly. That will just get you out of breath quickly. The objective is to pedal at a slow cadence, in a low gear, until you get to the top! Think about it this way – riding your bike in your lowest gear is the physical equivalent of walking slowly up the Washington Monument one step at a time while chatting with a friend – it’s easy. Spinning your pedal at a high cadence while in a low gear is the equivalent of running up the Washington monument one step at a time. What happens to your body then? You get out of breath and can’t do it (unless you are very highly trained!)  And most of us are not highly trained athletes. And yet, we are capable of doing an amazing amount of work as long as we pace ourselves. Slow and steady wins the day! 

Hill Climbing 3) On any hill, other than one that is very small, do not accelerate into the bottom of the hill with the expectation that the momentum you gain will help you up the hill. Any momentum you gain will be quickly dissipated in the first hundred yards of the hill, and you will find yourself out of breath from the early effort. Your body (cardiovascular system) much prefers a low level, steady state of activity. So just ride your bike at a leisurely pace into the hill.

4) Use all of your gears. Don’t save your two lowest gears in reserve “in case you need them”. You paid for them! Use them! My mantras are, “shift early, shift often”, and “ride in a gear that feels good, and that you feel you could comfortably pedal for a long time,…..like an hour”. If after even a few pedal strokes the pedaling is still too hard, keep shifting to a lower gear until you find one you like! Biking is supposed to be fun, not a forced march.

5) If you get tired, STOP and REST!! There is no law in bicycling that says one cannot take a break during a climb! While you’re enjoying a rest and a drink, don’t forget to step off the road so it’s easy and safe for cars to pass you. And remember to turn around and look back from where you came. It’s probably a great view that you might not see otherwise!

Climbing is often as much a mental test as a physical one. Consider setting a series of small attainable goals as you climb, such as every other telephone pole along the road, rather than always looking for the top of the climb. Take the opportunity to be in the moment. Some of my best thinking happens while I am on a long climb.

I hope these few tips are helpful to you as you get out for your rides this season. There are lots of great things about riding up hills and mountains – such as the view from the top, the satisfaction of making the climb with style and grace, and best of all, the ride DOWN! Oh, and remember to check you brakes before you start speeding down the hill!

And finally, if you want someone to ride slowly up, and quickly down, the beautiful hills of New England (or Quebec, Maine, Scotland, etc…!), come join us on a Discovery Bicycle Tour! We promise we will take you on some beautiful climbs!

Stay tuned!

Cheers, Bill Reuther
For Discovery Bicycle Tours

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“The Absence of Bustle”

“The absence of bustle”
a poem made out of discoverybicycletours.com
by Aaron Zemach

Experience all of this:
unspoiled natural beauty
the absence of things such as cell phones, billboards, decisions, cars, and bustle
You are pampered.
seeing deer on the edge of a pasture in the evening
peaceful landscapes
hills, valleys, farms and small villages
assorted epiphanies and serendipities

Your traveling snack bar:
The bright taste of an apple you just picked
Pure maple syrup
Iced tea on the porch of your inn

A final celebration
A relaxed vacation on a bicycle
treat ourselves to beautiful vistas
We feel this is only fair

Discovery Bicycle Tours Scotland Tour July 2014 Photo by Tour Leader Bill Reuther

Discovery Bicycle Tours
Scotland Tour July 2014
Photo by Tour Leader Bill Reuther


We hope you’ve enjoyed this poem. Thank you to Joan and Ken for forwarding this to us, and we’re delighted you enjoyed your Quebec-Eastern Townships tour! And a big thank you to their friend’s son, Aaron Zemach, for sharing this wonderful poem with us all!

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Time for some bicycle safety tips!

 

Bicycle Safety

Bicycle Safety

Discovery Bicycle Tours takes bicycle safety very seriously. Safe bicycle riding is largely a matter of common sense. Following some relatively straight-forward rules for safety will help ensure that you are not the cause of any problems or accidents. Cyclists have a right to use the road, but this right carries the obligation to be responsible, alert and courteous – all the time – so that safe riding becomes a habit.

 

 

IMPORTANT SAFETY RULES AND GUIDELINES:

1. Wear a helmet!

2. Ride with the traffic in a straight line. Riding in a straight line is the single most important thing in safe country riding.

3. Ride single file. Riding single file is not only common sense, but also common courtesy to the other users of the roadway.  Please, never ride double. It is unsafe and hugely annoying to motorists.

4. Do not ride too close to the edge or shoulder of the road. If there is a wide shoulder, use it. If not, bike in a straight line one or two feet from the edge of the pavement. But please, do not hog the road. Yes, you have a legal right to be there, but you are not a car and do not need the space of a car.

5. Let cars get past! If you find yourself in a situation where a car cannot get by safely and they follow you (silently cursing perhaps!), just pull over, stop, and let them by.

6. Always ride under control. Keep several bike lengths between you and other cyclists. On downhills, spread out even more, and pump your brakes for control and effectiveness (particularly when the roads are wet).

7.  If you are off your bike, get you and your bike off of the road. Basic.  This eliminates many potential problem situations.

8. Think like a motorist. When you finish your ride, likely you will rejoin the ranks of people in a hurry driving cars. How would you like someone on a bicycle to react to you?

If you follow these rules, you will have done your share to assure that your ride is pleasant and free of annoyance from motorists around you. And you will have done your share to ensure that future cyclists might enjoy the same experience.

Follow us for more safety tips to come!

Also, if you are interested in learning about bicycle security, please check out what’s happening with Dropcam and their “Cycling Security” campaign.  If you have questions for them, please don’t hesitate to email Tiffany Pham, their Community Manager at (tpham(@)dropcam(.).com)

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Some Soothing Thoughts for a Sore Subject!

As a follow-up to our last post, we thought we would share with you all some of the tips we’ve learned over the years to make sure your ride is a comfortable one! 

While out on a ride have you ever developed a rash or had some chafing or discomfort in those sensitive areas? Here’s how to avoid that and have a more comfortable ride!

Wear proper fitting, quality bike shorts. These are in direct contact with your skin and that’s usually where a problem will start. Make sure your biking shorts have a liner and chamois pad and you should definitely not wear underwear. The better quality bike shorts you can afford, the less friction and rubbing will occur. You’ll be able to ride longer and more comfortably. You can buy shorts at your local bike shop or at such online sites as Performance, LLBean, and Terry Bicycles.

Before you ride use a preventative lotion such  as Chamois Butt’r. This is both a lotion and lubricant and can be applied directly on your skin and/or on the chamois pad in your cycling shorts. After your ride you can use a product such as Desitin to help your skin stay dry and clean. This will also help any irritated areas that might be giving you a problem.

Make sure your seat fits you correctly. Infrequently riders find that a big cushy seat that is wider, softer and gel-filled works well. Most folks, however, find that a more narrow and firm seat is ultimately more comfortable because the more narrow seats support you with fewer pressure points and fewer opportunities for friction and rubbing. We’re fond of the Terry saddles which are available for both women and men.

Change your shorts frequently. After a ride, get out of your shorts as soon as possible and wash up. This helps get rid of the bacteria that can cause irritation. Then, wash your shorts too. Different brands of shorts have different seam placement and different chamois pads so you can decide what works best for you.

Change your riding position. If in the middle of a ride you start to feel your butt getting sore from either your seat or your shorts, the best thing you can do is to change riding positions. Stand up and pedal for a bit. Move yourself either farther back or closer up on your seat. Shift your weight from side to side and when your ride is over, using the tips here, try to figure out what you could change so you’re more comfortable on your next ride.

Soothing-thoughtsFor the ladies only. To start with, try to prevent chafing and irritation while shaving so that this doesn’t irritate an already sensitive area. Try some gentle shaving creams and shave in a way that avoids razor burn. Next, to reduce moisture (which is itself an irritant) take probiotics, eat yogurt, use tampons. In addition to Chamois Butt’r, you could also try a personal lubricant and after the ride wear skorts without underwear to give your sensitive area a chance to rest up from any irritation it may have received during your ride.

 

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