April 28, 2015
I recently had the opportunity to connect with a longtime friend of Tripsite, Robert Zang. When I say, "longtime" and "friend", I don't use the words lightly. Robert has been on 10 trips with us over the years, and has become much more than just a client. Here at Tripsite, it is not unusual for us to know clients by name and travel history and we pride ourselves in that.
Now, when I say connect, I mean we exchanged hand-written letters back and forth. He sent me original photographs, taken out of the many photo albums he has compiled over the years. In this day and age, people rarely send "snail mail"! Afterall, it costs 49 cents for a stamp, is slower, and much less convenient in this world of "click here." Letter writing is a lost art. Recieving hand-written letters from Robert, with his unique and graceful script, only made his account more personal and thoughtful. I really appreciated that he took the time to share his experiences, especially in this way, and I hope you all enjoy his story and travel tips!
If you want an adventure, not just a vacation, you should try Tripsite for the very best bike trips in Europe.
I belong to a group of friends who all enjoy sailing in the summer, skiing, in the winter, and biking in the fall.
Last year was the 10th bike trip that I organized for my group in Europe.
We are a much older group of mostly singles and enjoy doing bike and boat trips with Tripsite.
Part of our group near the Lorelei on the Rhine River.
What I enjoy most about Tripsite is the prompt and courteous attention that they provide for all of the travel details that make our trips enjoyable. All we need to do is call and we can speak to a English speaking person that will answer all of our questions from the best airports to fly into, to suggestions for extra night hotel stays, train schedules, even average local temperature, etc.
This is a picture of our “Pre Departure” party that I host for our bike trips. Here we introduce all of the members and distribute all the trip information that Tripsite provides for us. We also arrange car-pooling to the airport. Note the enlarged route that I have mounted to the wall showing the complete layout of our trips. At the end of our tours we have one of our members transfer everyone's digital camera card onto a disc. About three weeks after our return, we have what I call a “Post Picture Party” , where each person is given a complete DVD of everyone's pictures that were taken on our trips. Everyone can then view them on their TV screen and DVD player as a slideshow.
The boats are not luxury liners, but they offer much more; close comradery. We generally fill the entire boat with our groups. The food, bikes, guides, and crew members are all outstanding.
Happy Hour back on our boat after an exciting day biking along the Rhine River. A cold German beer hits the spot!
Our guide always leads our groups and stops at local places in the mooring for coffee and hot apple strudel. For lunch we can either enjoy our packed lunch or purchase local food from an outdoor restaurant.
Bikers stopping along the Po River for a water break in Italy.
The guide sets the pace so that faster, medium speed, and slower bikers are never too far apart. One tip that I have learned is to keep all of our group together so no one gets lost is to have a "sweeper". A sweeper is a person who volunteers to bring up the rear of the group so that everyone is between the leader (guide) and the "sweeper". Another practice the guides use is, at intersections when a decision has to be made as to either go right or go left, one of the faster bikers will stay at the intersection to assure the "sweeper" makes the correct turn.
Some of our bikers looking up at the Rheinfels Castle along the Rhine River, Germany.
All of our bikes have a number on the rear fender. The bikes are all the same color and the same make and seemingly all look alike. It is sometimes difficult to find your own bike when we park them all together. To eliminate this problem I take two pieces of yellow duct tape and stick one piece on the front fender and the other on the back fender. That way I can spot my bike right away because it stands out from the rest of the bikes. When we were biking through Switzerland, one of our bikers bought a Swiss cow bell and tied it to her handle bars. Another buddy tied his red hankerchief to his handle bars.
An afternoon break for coffee and hot apple strudel or a cold beer on our trip around Lake Constance.
Another tip that we we use is, if we are in a large city, and we are stopped by a red light, we can all get across the street in one light change if we group about 4 or 5 bikers crossing the road close together and then 4 or 5 more, etc. It's much faster that way than if we were all strung out in a single line.
Picture of some of our bikes in Italy looking over one of the cities on the route.
My experience with using Tripsite is that all my bike trips have always been very enjoyable. Because of their attention to the details, we have never had any problems.
Some of our bikers in the courtyard of a monastery near St. Goar, Germany.
I often look through my many photo albums of our trips to re-enjoy the good times that we shared.
Robert F. Zang
1. Designate a "sweeper" to keep the group together and informed about turns
2. Mark your bike so you can easily distingish it from others
3. Cross intersections in groups