Affordable International Cycling Vacations
Have you never considered an international cycling vacation because you thought it was too expensive? Well, you were probably right . . . until NOW!
Let us introduce you to Cycling Friends, LLC, a new and exciting way to travel internationally and visit beautiful cycling destinations all at a fraction of the cost of most commercial companies. Yes, Affordable International Cycling Vacations is what we are all about.
Compare for yourself. We can beat the price of most commercial touring companies by a minimum of 50% of their price AND, interestingly enough, our trips are nearly twice the duration! We recently surveyed a company with a trip to Provence in France. Per person prices were more than double our price and their duration is 6 days while ours is 10 days. How is this possible?
First of all, Cycling Friends, LLC runs trips that are close to transportation facilities that either service airports or connect you to airports through efficient rail services. Upon arrival at our designated pick up location, you are whisked away by motor coach to our cycling destination generally within one hour’s drive.
Second, we operate our trips from a fixed base location hotel. In other words, rather than changing hotels daily or even every other day, you will stay at the same hotel the duration of your stay. No more packing and unpacking daily. No more wandering through the countryside trying to find your next destination. Also, no more being forced to ride to the next destination if the weather isn’t cooperating. No problem, you are home safe and sound every night in the same hotel. You get to know the area and the hotel staff taking care of you on a daily basis. In other words, you become a part of the world around you experiencing the local culture rather than skimming over everything.
Third, because we operate out of a single destination we have much better control over the quality of food and beverage services. We have worked with our hotels over the past 10 years to help insure a high level of quality and consistency.
We could go on and on about why our trips are a high value proposition compared to most others. However, we invite you to read carefully the ride description details just below and see for yourself what is included in the trip and what is not included. Compare that to the other operators and you’ll conclude we offer very high value trips at a fraction of the cost. So, the next time someone mentions they would never consider an international cycling experience due to the cost you can tell them to check us out. We are passionate about what we do and you will adopt our byline that Cycling Friends, LLC really does offer Affordable International Cycling Vacations!
Join us for 10 wonderful days and nights cycling the beautiful rural Vaucluse region of Provence France, home of abundant sunshine, brilliant colors, incomparable scenery, splendid world-class regional wines and exquisite local cuisine! Our fixed base tour lodging in the medieval village of Vaison la Romaine is poised high above the modern city of Vaison, a Roman archeological wonder. Old and new Vaison are split by the Ouveze River but conveniently connected by a medieval Roman bridge which you will cross many times as you wander back and forth between the old and new worlds of the villages.
Our location is conveniently positioned a few short kilometers from the base of Mont Ventoux, one of the most famous and iconic stages and climbs of the Tour de France. And YES, you will have the opportunity to ride to the summit of Mont Ventoux on one of our daily rides, an unforgettable and exhilarating experience!
- 3 Star cycling friendly hotel lodging located just inside the walled medieval village of Vaison la Romaine.
- Per person double occupancy room for 10 nights.
- Daily continental traditional French breakfast in the hotel garden overlooking modern Vaison below.
- Dinner each evening in the hotel’s beautiful courtyard (weather permitting) to include 3 courses plus wine, water, coffee and dessert. A daily vegetarian selection will also be available with no meal repeats during our stay. Dinner on the evening of our day off will be on your own and the hotel will provide many wonderful alternatives in and around the town of Vaison la Romaine.
- Daily business meeting and Happy Hour in the hotel garden prior to dinner. Light snacks, soda, wine and beer will be provided.
- Exclusive website for participants only which will provide GPS tracks, maps, cue sheets and much more information about the ride and sight seeing opportunities in the area. The website will be available approximately 6 months in advance of departure.
- Pickup and drop off at the Avignon, France TGV rail station. Dates and times are outlined below. Arrivals and departures should be planned accordingly. Travel time to/from the hotel is approximately one hour.
- Pickup Date/Time: Departure from Avignon TGV on Wednesday, May 22nd (Section 1) or Wednesday, June 5th (Section 2) at 4:00PM arriving at the hotel about 5:00PM.
- Drop Off Date/Time: Departure from Vaison la Romaine hotel on Saturday, June 1st (Section 1) or Saturday, June 15th (Section 2) at 8:00AM arriving at Avignon TGV about 9:00AM.
- Pickup and drop off will include you, your luggage and bike case (if applicable).
- Bike rental coordination and assistance.
- Hotel gratuities for front desk, restaurant and maid service personnel.
- Luggage transfers during entry to and exit from the hotel.
- Complementary wifi.
- Secure bike storage.
- Airfare and other transportation to and from the pick up and drop off location at the TGV rail station in Avignon, France.
- Sightseeing fees.
- Bike rental.
- Daily lunches.
- Dinner on our cycling day off.
- Alcohol with meals other than wine which is included at dinner.
- Lodging before or after the trip.
- Personal items purchased during the trip.
It is recommended that singles seeking a roommate try to find their own, but the Ride Director and/or Ride Co-Director may also assist by attempting to match singles registering for the ride. However, after receipt of the initial deposit, a single without a roommate will be placed on the trip and given an agreeable and reasonable period of time to find a roommate. If they are unable to find a roommate, they will have the option of receiving a full refund or paying the single supplement and staying on the tour. If a single pays the supplement, they may continue to seek a roommate, but must plan to participate without a roommate if necessary. Single supplement payments will be added to the unpaid balance due at the time of final payment.
Our 3 Star hotel, Le Beffroi, is positioned perfectly just inside the walled medieval village of Vaison la Romaine. The panoramic view from the hotel affords a wonderful view of the surrounding modern village of Vaison and countryside or you may enjoy the peace and tranquility of its terraced gardens and swimming pool. The hotel’s quaint rooms occupy two adjoining 16th and 17th Century houses; each room uniquely decorated with antiques and includes the modern conveniences of a private shower or bath, toilet, telephone, mini-bar, television and hair dryer. The hotel also offers a laundry service for cycling clothes (not included in the trip price). A day off in the middle of our trip is planned so that you can enjoy the regional weekly market, quaint shops, lively restaurants and inviting lanes of the village, all located a short walk from our hotel.
Arrival and departure for the trip will be at the Avignon, France TGV (high speed) rail station. Luxury shuttle transportation will be provided from Avignon TGV to our hotel in Vaison la Romaine, approximately one hour’s distance. Note there will be only one date and time pickup and drop off per trip and times stated will be prompt. See INCLUSIONS in the COST/ADMIN tab above.
Several options exist in planning your arrival and departure to Avignon TGV. The two recommended approaches are from Paris or Nice via TGV. Bike storage at these destinations is available if you are bringing your own bike(s). However, to avoid the issue of transporting and storing your own bike, high quality bike rentals will be available. See OTHER INFORMATION tab above. Details on TGV transport and bike storage and rental options may be discussed with the Cycling Friends, LLC Ride Director and/or Ride Co-Director for the tour.
Rather than wasting time and energy packing and unpacking each day, worrying about making it to your destination without getting lost, etc., our fixed base riding will do in and out (loop) rides of 35 to 50+ miles of varying but moderate terrain, returning to our hotel early to mid afternoon each day.
Riding in this area of Provence is gentle with our range of daily climbing from 1500 to 2500 feet. All roads we will ride are paved and consideration has been given to avoiding high traffic areas. GPS tracks, maps and cue sheets of the suggested daily cycling route will be available in advance of the departure date and can be discussed with your Cycling Friends, LLC Ride Director and/or Ride Co-Director who has personally ridden each route many times. Plan to make 2 to 3 stops sampling the quaint coffee shops and take lunch (not included in the trip price) in one of the many villages along the way. You are welcome to join one or two group led rides each riding day that will follow the ride schedule published on our private ride website for participants only.
Although the general area where we will ride offers moderate terrain, there is always one ever-present sight on the horizon; Mont Ventoux, one of the most famous and iconic of all Tour de France climbs and stages. For those that enjoy climbing and descending, one of the highlights of our trip will offer the opportunity to take in the summit of Mont Ventoux. The climb offers 3 ascents ranging from 3969 to 5304 feet, covering 21.8 to 26 kilometers with average grades of 4.4% to 7.43%. Two of the ascent’s grades are 8.9% for 16 kilometers. For all ascents conditions can be very windy. Ride time will take 2 to 3 hours. Please note this ride is not mandatory and other rides can be easily substituted if you prefer. The Cycling Friends, LLC Ride Director and/or Ride Co-Director of the tour can make suggestions for you. If you do choose to ride with us up Mont Ventoux, it will no doubt prove to be an exhilarating and unforgettable experience!
Bike rentals will be available from our excellent supplier and partner in the area, France Bike Rentals (FBR) in Bedoin at the base of Mont Ventoux. We have used FBR since the inception of this ride in 2012 and for good reason. The quality and variety of bikes they offer and their level of service is unparalleled. We are proud to be associated with such a great supplier and we have an excellent working relationship with them. We will provide rental coordination and assistance when ordering and at delivery and pick-up. Please note we will not begin the rental process until about 6 months prior to departure.
Mentioned in RIDING IN Provence just above, we offer daily group rides for our scheduled and published ride of the day. We offer a couple of groups split not so much by riding ability but more by the actual participants themselves desiring to ride with their friends.
Our guides on each ride will not let anyone fall away from the group and you will not be left on your own. Although Cycling Friends, LLC does not have a dedicated sag vehicle, in case you get stranded on the road we will do whatever necessary to get you back safely to the hotel. We will publish a phone number list prior to trip departure in case of an emergency or if you need assistance.
May and June in Vaison la Romaine have average temperatures of 64 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit respectively with highs and lows of 75 and 54 and 82 and 61 Fahrenheit respectively. Cooler temperatures in May promote the abundance of colorful and fragrant wildflowers along our routes and for a moment you might think you are in a Paris perfume shop!.
Cyclists on our trips with non-cycling partners need not fear of a lack of things for the non-cyclist to enjoy in the area. It is also possible to rent a car locally and drive to many attractions close by. However, Vaison offers a wide range of activities. The Cycling Friends, LLC Ride Director and/or Ride Co-Director can direct you to the Vaison Tourist Office centrally located in modern Vaison. This office has a multitude of information about sights to see in and around the area.
One such activity is Market Day in Vaison. We plan our cycling day off to occur on the day of the market, Tuesday, so all can enjoy. It is a huge regional market and attracts many folks from the surrounding small villages. Fresh food, clothing, books and about anything else you can imagine are available. French markets are known for their high quality of goods and services and the Vaison market is no exception.
Another fun activity very close to the Tourist Office are the Roman Ruins. For a nominal charge you can wander the ruins and experience the reach and breadth of the Roman empire right in downtown Vaison!
Syd has managed, led and developed highly rated high value cycling trips in France (Provence), Italy (Tuscany & Sicily) and Holland (Amsterdam) since 2008 as a volunteer Ride Director for Bicycle Adventure Club. After leading 26 highly successful trips to these countries, Syd has decided to launch this venture to continue leading his current and new friends on Affordable International Cycling Vacations throughout the world.
A retired information systems professional with USAA in San Antonio, Texas, Syd is very excited about the launch and prospect of Cycling Friends, LLC. In addition to rides already developed, he is looking forward to expanding his repertoire of trips to other countries in Europe and elsewhere. Please stay tuned for future offerings.
Ken has been a Ride Co-Director with Syd on the France and Italy trips for the past 7 years. Along with his Ride Co-Director role, Ken also is responsible for coordinating bike rentals for our guests and also serves as our weatherman at our nightly meetings in addition to other duties as assigned. He has proven to be highly valued by our guests and is looking forward to the new venture co-leading trips wherever the road may lead us.
Ken is a retired federal law enforcement professional living in the Washington, D.C. area. He is a past President of the Annapolis Bicycle Club where he remains active. Ken also is heavily involved in bicycle advocacy groups in the D.C. area. He has proven to be highly valued by our guests and is looking forward to the new venture on futures trips wherever the road may lead us.