In summer of 2006 at the Tour de France I was sitting with several Trek Dealers and Trek Travel guests and we were all commenting on how each of us has always wanted to ride across the USA. Each of us said it would need to be around a month long and no one wanted to camp on their crossing. This conversation was the start of the Trek Travel Cross Country trip. It has been a major undertaking to research, plan, route and execute our inaugural trip.
I was lucky enough to be in Charleston for the finale of the Cross Country trip where I greeted 21 dedicated riders as they crossed the finish line and were welcomed by friends and family. After 34 days the Atlantic Ocean was a welcome sight. Everyone headed straight to the water, some dipped their toes others their bike tires. It was one of my proudest moments at Trek Travel. To see all the smiling faces and witness the accomplishment of these amazing people. It is something many people dream of doing but only a few are able to achieve. They have all now joined an elite group of cyclists and should be extremely proud of what they just accomplished. I personally would like to congratulate each and every one of the riders for riding 3200+ miles, in 34 days across the United States of America. It is truly a spectacular feat!
I also would like to thank the guides and massage therapists for their fabulous energy, enthusiasm and never ending support. They went above and beyond to ensure that each rider was taken care of and made it to Charleston safely!
I guess it is my turn!
Tania Worgull, President Trek Travel
Well after 2 days of rain, today we had a beautiful sunny day. It day started with patchy fog as we dropped into river valleys and then climbed back out into the clear. We continued on with renewed vigor just in time to get chased by lots of dogs! We also have realized that the armadillo apparently doesn’t stand a chance on the roads of southern Missouri judging by the amount of them “sleeping” on the shoulder.
There certainly has been some tough, rolling hills through the Ozark plateau and mountains, but we finished the day with a great dinner at Café 37, a funky bisto with great food that feels slightly out of place in rural Missouri.
Nate Lohmeier, TT Guide
Fall must be the time here at Trek Travel for new trips in remarkable destinations. First was the inaugural Cross Country trip, still progressing toward the Atlantic, and now our first ever Vietnam trip has concluded with unbelievable praise. The trip designer and guide, Phillipe, has truly outdone himself as the letter below attests to. Check out trektravel.com for more information about this new cycling trip being offered in the culturally dynamic country of Vietnam.
First, I want to thank you for taking on the challenge of arranging a private bike tour in Viet Nam. The care and effort that went into the planning was obvious. Our experience was remarkable. I thought you might enjoy some feedback on the trip.
We were introduced to one of the most exotic and unspoiled locations left on earth. From the moment we were met at the airport to the final diner, this trip was stunning in its balance of activity and cultural experience. I should start by disclosing the feeling of apprehension that I felt about how Americans might be viewed or treated by the Vietnamese. This turned out to be completely unfounded. Without exception, to a person, everyone we encountered, from the peasant farmers to the hotel staff, was warm, gracious, and genuinely nice. This was uniformly the case. There is no doubt that Vietnam is about the future. No one dwells on the past. Never once did I or anyone else on the trip feel uncomfortable or unwelcome.
Philippe was simply awesome. His conversational command of the Vietnamese language brought the experience to life. Vietnam is a place that is rich with culture, history and tradition. Several times throughout the day, something would catch the eye of one of the guests and rather than just becoming a photo opportunity, Philippe would stop and start a conversation in the local language. From venders at the market to peasant women making brooms, chance encounters turned into something wonderfully interactive. Within a few seconds we would all be laughing and carrying on. It was magic.
The riding is best suited to mountain bikes and our equipment was appropriate for the conditions. Even though the roads were mostly in good shape, some of the more interesting and remote riding did involve stretches of rough surface and occasional rain run off. The routes were well scouted and offered some of the most fascinating scenery I have ever encountered. The vast majority of the roads had only sparse traffic. Often the roads felt like paved bike trails but these were in fact rural roads that connected small villages. It is worth mentioning that maps of the roads do not exist. Every mile of the ride had to be scouted in advance and the routes were fantastic. There was hectic city traffic in Hanoi and Saigon but it was surprisingly no worse than most major US cities. As our guides pointed out, it is all about flow. Once you get the hang of the rules of riding, it quickly became quite comfortable to negotiate traffic.
This trip is not about pounding out the miles. There is way too much to see and take in. We stopped quite often to talk to a rice farmer or watch incense being made. Everything was spontaneous and genuine. Absolutely nothing about the trip was scripted. We were in very remote areas that almost never see tourists. Children would run up to the road just for the joy of saying hello to a foreigner. This happened all the time. No one tried to sell us anything The trip was much more of an interactive adventure than any other ride I have ever been on. It involves shorter daily rides than many other Trek Travel trips. Our long day was about 120km and had nice rolling hills. The other rides were mostly flat and ranged from 30 to 70km. Everyone seemed to be very pleased with the rides. In the context of the surroundings, the bike invites interaction and this was the theme of the trip. If you are to do this trip again I would let the uber-cyclists know that head down riding is not what this is about. Nor should it be.
The participants on our trip ranged widely in riding ability but everyone shared in the experience equally. I would have no hesitation about inviting a novice biker on this trip. This was the case for one of our riders and she had the time of her life. The ground support was unbelievable. We had two passenger vans, a bike truck, two guides riding with the group, and on one segment, a motorcycle that followed along. We were never more than seconds away from assistance. We were at times in very remote locations but were never without ample cold refreshments, snacks or a ride in the van if someone wanted a break. We were as protected and well cared for as was possible. One of the vans was always in the lead to make sure that no one missed a turn or that the occasional errant water buffalo was shooed off the road . The ground crew was on task and attentive. They were very good.
Food and lodging was the biggest surprise of the trip. Our seasoned group of travelers was awed by the world class quality of the hotels we stated in. The Da Lat Palace is a 39 room hotel that has been restored to the height of old world colonial elegance. It is one of the nicest hotels Carolyn or I have ever stayed in and compares favorably to Gerorge V in Paris. The next stop was a beach resort in Na Trang, that was on par with the Bali Four Seasons. Every room we stayed in was hand picked by Philippe. We had the best views, the nicest beach front and the most desirable locations. It was stunning.
My endorsement of this trip is unqualified. At the closing dinner, Phillipe posed the question of what could be done better next time. There was nothing any of us would have changed. The Trek Travel team got this right. I would encourage you to offer this as a regular trip.
Best Personal Regards,
John and Carolyn
(Click for larger image)
Day 13 Pagosa Springs, CO to Taos, New Mexico 141.5 miles
I’m not superstitious, but day number 13 lived up to its reputation as an unlucky day for most of us. Today was to be the longest and toughest day of the trip with expected riding times of 10 hours or longer depending on the weather. We were to pass into New Mexico and go over the continental divide. 60 miles into the ride was a 3000 foot climb over a mountain pass 10,500 feet high. After that, it was all down hill. Simply said but that was not how it occurred.
We all had a great breakfast at Victoria’s Parlor in Pagosa Springs, Colorado in the very early hours of the morning in order to get an early start on the ride. The weather was expected to get nasty in the afternoon and we wanted to get over the big pass before the weather got cold and rainy. By noon, we had our lunch at Chama, New Mexico and visited the Tourist Information Center at mile 46. They had an up to date weather forecast of a large front moving our way toward Taos. Our only chance of finishing today was to beat the front to Taos.
The ride up to the base of the mountain was not all that difficult and the weather looked surprising pleasant. However, after the ascent started, the wind picked up and so did the cloud cover. The farther we went up the hill, the colder, and windier it got. By the time we crested the pass, we knew we were in trouble. A mixture of bad weather, including high winds, rain, sleet, and a long painful climb forced most of the gang into the van for safety reasons. The majority of the van riders could have made it to Taos if it hadn’t been for the bad weather. Luck was not with them that day. Only few riders made it into Taos for the complete 141.5 mile ride braving the cold, rain, sleet, hail, wind, thin air, and long mountain climb. At one point some 30 miles away from Taos we got held up from the rain in Tres Piedras. We had a spectacular view of the valley into Taos and could watch the storm move over the city. And as the weather cleared from the Rio Grande Gorge, spectacular rainbows with the most brilliant colors stood out from the black ominous background. It was an awesome sight.
Tomorrow is a rest day and very well needed. The last three days have been in the mountains and wore us all down. That will give us time to lick our wounds and get ready for another 2 weeks of riding before our next rest day in Nashville, Tennessee.
-Perry Wilbur, XC Rider