PHOTO: Supported, self-directed bike tours provide one of the most independent ways of experiencing a destination, but with support on hand if necessary. (Photo courtesy of Pure Adventures).
Scottsdale, Ariz.-based bicycle touring specialist Pure Adventures introduced a new model of bicycle tour it calls “supported, self-directed” adventures. It’s designed to be a mid-point between fully guided and independent/self-guided trips.
The new model of touring is less structured than the standard form of bike tour and allows bicyclists to explore freely, but still to have a back up support vehicle on hand as needed. The new concept of bike touring “lets guests enjoy many of the freedoms of a self-guided/independent trip with the sag wagon service and trip leader support of a fully guided tour.”
According to a spokesman for Pure Adventures, self guided touring is the most independent way to travel with a tour operator. You are given a departure and trip dates, usually with suggested itineraries provided by the tour operator. The operator provides the bikes, if needed, a pre-trip orientation meeting, maps and in some cases a GPS, highlights along the routes and suggested stops, and importantly, a 24-hour emergency phone number.
Activities such as wine tastings or museum visits may be suggested but are not organized.
“These 'SSD' trips are similar to guided tours in the sense that they follow a route that is pre-planned by us the tour operator,” said Loren Siekman, founder of Pure Adventures. “Guests who are single, or couples, must choose a published departure so that these small number parties can join up with others to get a trip — just like a traditional guided trip. This format is also similar to the traditional guided trip in the sense that a support person from our team is along to ensure most of the logistics. But, that is really where the similarities end.”
Although several clients will travel the same route, they may travel as independently as they wish from the others, only needing to end up at the same destination at the end of the day.
With Supported, Self-Directed bike tours, meals are on your own, except some breakfasts included at inns or lodges. Cycling is at your own pace, stopping wherever you want. Evenings are on your own. You choose from a set of pre-scheduled departure dates, but if you have a group of six or more you can set any departure date.
A guide or sag wagon is provided as support throughout the trip. The guide goes ahead and meets the cyclists at a rest stop 15-20 miles down the road and waits with refreshments, water, and bike service. The guide transports luggage to the next stop.
Supported, Self-Directed bike tours now being offered include Death Valley, Bryce and Zion National Parks, Epic Climbs of Arizona, Yosemite to San Francisco and County Kerry and Cork in Ireland.
More information on independent bike tours is supplied at the Pure Adventures website.