Top Ten Reasons for Biking with VBT


There is something about a list with a number alongside that is SO compelling–100 top colleges, 25 top attractions, 15 fool proof ways to excite a man.  They just shout “READ ME”, don’t they?  So, I figured why not?
Drum roll, please.
The Ten Top Reasons for biking with VBT, not necessarily in order of importance–just in the order that my somewhat addled brain extracts them.

1. Fantastic guides!
I’ve taken three VBT trips; each one has had delightful local guides, who do everything in their power to make sure we have an amazing experience.  They are entertaining, knowledgeable and SKILLED!

Flat tire?  No problem…one of them will fix it for you.    Andi DID demonstrate how to change a tire so that we would know what to do back home.  I was quite happy that should the need arise, all I had to do was wait until whichever one was “sweeping” (riding at the back of the group to make sure we were all okay) to catch up and rescue me.  But thanks anyway, Andi.  I hope I never have to put my new knowledge to the test

Here's Andi, ready for ANY emergency!

Here’s Andi, ready for ANY emergency!

I’m posting this photo of Hana, seriously studying for her law exam (no, not during our trip…she emailed it to us later) because it shows her dog, Candy, helping her concentrate.  Candy is a Maltese, just like Lilly, my sister Sue’s dog.

image

2. Wonderful New Friends
On every trip, we have managed to meet interesting, fun people.  Some, like Victoria from our Slovenia trip, continue the friendship even after the biking trip is a distant memory.

We hope that will be true for this trip also.  Mike would have really enjoyed talking with Peter because they have so much in common: an interest in meteorites, ancient coins, research, writing, photography.  Mike is not a biker–but maybe there will be other opportunities for them to meet in the future.

The Midwestern Ladies have already appeared in previous posts, but I have to mention them again. They were beyond fantastic biking companions! We made them “honorary biker chicks” a title that is definitely not easy to come by.

The Connecticut Contingent: Peter and Joan in the lead, followed by Julia and Tom

The Connecticut Contingent: Peter and Joan in the lead, followed by Julia and Tom

3. Van stops,  exactly when you need them
How great is it not to have to worry about getting your belongings from town to town?  It also helps to know that riding the van is always an option if you get too tired, or too wet.

Beth, enthusiastically making her way to the van.  Those curls were really bobbing up and down!

Beth is enthusiastically making her way to the van. Those curls were really bobbing up and down!

4. Breath-taking scenery
It is true that the scenery in this area is amazing regardless of how you travel across it, but there is something special about being able to stop whenever you want, to savor the beauty and to take a photo or two.

I found this old tree fascinating.

I found this old tree fascinating.  Probably it was alive when Napoleon was running wild, conquering surrounding countries!

This shot was taken from the center of a dam that we rode across on our way to Austria.  The dam isn't all that visually compelling, so I'll spare you.

This shot was taken from the center of the dam that we rode across on our way to Austria. The dam isn’t all that visually compelling, so I’ll spare you.

5. Alternate Modes of Transportation
Much as I enjoy biking, it is nice to give your hindquarters a little break.  On this trip, we traveled by train and by boat.  The ride down the Danube offered a different view of  the little town of Passau, where the waters of the Inn, the Ilz and the Danube converge, each one a different color.

A view of Passau from the river.

A view of Passau from the river.  You can NEVER have too many churches–or to many clock towers!

6. Exploration Options
We always had sufficient free time to explore the little towns and villages; to pursue whatever interests we might have, whether it be using the zip line at a playground, listening to a concert in the local church, shopping, trying out the local delicacies, or doing all of the above.

Sorry sisters and cousins...I didn't buy any of these.  It was too early in the trip.  They would have either melted, or been eaten before I got home.  (Probably eaten)

Sorry sisters and cousins…I didn’t buy any of these. It was too early in the trip. They would have either melted, or been eaten before I got home. (Probably eaten)

7. Mind Expansion!
You always absorb interesting facts about the countries you visit, and you might even REMEMBER some of what you learned!

Unfortunately, my camera didn’t have a wide enough angle to capture the three different colors of the water coming from the three different rivers that converge at Passau. That image only resides in the space between my ears. Instead, I offer this description.

The waters really WERE different colors!

The waters really WERE different colors!

8.  Dining in Unusual Places
We probably wouldn’t have found this restaurant in a cellar in Cesky Krumlov. (Or was it a cave?).   Getting there was part of the experience.  The taller members of the group had to stay scrunched over as we descended the winding, steep steps.  There wasn’t a lot of headroom!  But the dinner was SO worth it!

Katie, the youngest biker, with Karla from the Midwest and Kim, Katies  mother

Katie, the youngest biker, with Karla from the Midwest and Kim, Katie’s mother

9. Pre and Post Trip Extensions
The trips always start and end in great locations, so if you have the time (and many of us did), you can opt for the pre and/or post trips.  I’ve already posted about Prague, and if I get the energy, will also share Vienna highlights—but here is one photo from each place.

Prague, viewed from the top of the Charles Bridge Tower.  (141 steps to the top, and through a little narrow door).

Prague, viewed from the top of the Charles Bridge Tower. (141 steps to the top, and through a little narrow door).  I just can’t resist a tower!

Sally (Biker Chick who had other travel plans this year) had perfect timing.  She emailed us the night before our last day in Vienna, suggesting that we visit the Hundertwasser Museum. It is always wise to take Sally’s (and Marilyn’s) recommendations.

Not only did we spend a morning in the museum, but we also found Hundertwasser’s village.

Vienna -- This will give you an idea of what Hundertwasser's art is like.

Vienna — This will give you an idea of what Hundertwasser’s art is like.

I particularly enjoyed Hundertwasser’s philosophical statements. Two of my favorites:
“If we do not honor our past, we lose our future. If we destroy our roots, we cannot grow”.

“A dead person is entitled to reincarnation in the form of, for example, a tree that grows on top of him and through him. The result would be a sacred forest of living dead. A garden of the happy dead.”
He asked to be buried without a coffin, to encourage decomposition.

10. Renewing Old Friendships
I know, I already talked about NEW friendships–but being with the other Biker Chicks deserves its very own reason number. Wouldn’t you agree?
For this trip, what was especially special was spending time with the “other” Karen, a college friend that I hadn’t seen in more than 4 decades!

Our Biking Group: The Connecticut Contingent, the Coloradians, the midwest Ladies, the Biker Chicks, and the "Katie" family, plus guides

Our Biking Group: The Connecticut Contingent, the Coloradians, the midwest Ladies, the Biker Chicks, and the “Katie” family, plus our super duper guides

We are all home now, doing laundry, readjusting to time zones, and having to cook our own meals.

Maybe there will be a quiz over the coming days? You never know…

7 thoughts on “Top Ten Reasons for Biking with VBT

  1. Welcome home !! Glad all went well, and I agree with everything on your list about VBT.

    I hope you don’t post that list about 15 ways to excite men. I’m too old. And tired. And Hub doesn’t need more encouragement. 🙂

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  2. I’m sold! What a fantastic way to see another country. I’m not sure if I could get my husband, who regularly bikes 50-60 miles a day, to join me. He might get frustrated with the pace. It appears that it wouldn’t be a problem going solo or with a girlfriend, and the pace sounds just perfect to me.

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    • VBT rates the rides according to difficulty, and we had chosen an easy ride. Still, even the easy rides offer variations for the more enthusiastic cyclist. The two from Colorado were always way ahead of the pack, and always did the optional routes.
      BUT, having said that, you are right. We always have had more women on our bike trips and women tend to be inclusive. the solo riders get welcomed into the “pack”. At least that has been my experience. Our next ride will likely be in 2016. I’ll let you know.

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  3. Biking in Upstate NY trails off around mid-November, and right now is somewhere between impossible and suicidal. I’ve never taken any (organized) long rides, and seldom any with others to lead or follow. My biking dream, I suppose, would be a couple weeks in rural Ireland; until I win the lottery, it’ll have to be trails along the Mohawk, and only when weather permits.

    But thank you for the spirited descriptions of your journey. You have my admiration, and more than a little bit of envy.

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