Although quite common in Europe, in the United States the self-guided bicycle tour is a rarity. So, just what is it, and who should consider it?
By way of comparison to the group led tour and the self-arranged tour, our self guided cycling tours are completely planned for you like a group led tour, but you are on your own like a self-arranged tour. Daily routes and maps are provided, lodging is arranged, breakfast is provided as well as some lunches and dinners as you would fully expect with a group led tour. With a self-arranged tour all of this is your responsibility to plan and arrange. Unlike the group led tour, on a self-guided tour you lead the way at your pace not at the speed of the most inexperienced person in the group. Like the self-arranged tour, the self-guided tour allows you to tailor the difficulty to your experience level, to pick your traveling companions if any, set the pace, deviate from the route to visit interesting sites and start your tour virtually any day of the week and set its length to meet your situation. In addition to controlling the length of the tour, you also can influence the cost by specifying the level of lodging you prefer.
Thus, the self-guided tour has a pricing advantage over the group led tour because it can be tailored to fit your situation, your desired level of accommodation and its length. It also avoids the expense of the group leader. It is however, more expensive than a self-arranged tour because all the planning and arranging is done for you, not by you, but it offers the same flexibility on routes, pace, length, departure days and members of the group. Virginia Bicycling also provides limited on-route support for emergency situations and a complete malfunctioning of a bicycle.
Our biking tour routes are chosen to allow you to experience all that the Shenandoah Valley and Piedmont region of Virginia have to offer. You will traverse paved and well-maintained back country roads, some of which carry virtually no traffic, that follow rivers and streams through valleys or provide breathtaking vistas from mountain ridges. Our routes pass through quaint villages some of which were established in the mid 1700s and often allow the opportunity to take short deviations to visit wineries, civil war battle sites and cemeteries and have serene picnic lunches along streams and other nature spots. Moreover, for multi-day tours, our routes are designed to start and end at the same location because many of our clients arrive in the area with their own vehicle and their own bicycles and thus after the day's ride they drive the short distance to that night's lodging.
For those clients with rental bicycles or not having luggage transportation between daily ride locations, Virginia Bicycling Adventures will provide luggage transportation at an additional cost. In these situations, the routes as described in this web site are altered to cause the bicyclists to arrive at the next lodging location at the end of the day's ride.
Self-guided tours are not for everyone because with route map in hand and lodging arranged, you are on your own. Participants must have confidence in their cycling abilities, are comfortable reading and following a map and printed directions, can follow road signs and are confident that they can backtrack and recover from a missed turn or a detour to visit a site, village or winery. Lastly, at least one person in the group must have the ability to perform minor bicycle repairs and fix a flat tire.