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Bike in southwest France with Alyson Adventures

Bike in the Dordogne

An active, outdoors vacation with Alyson Adventures.

It's easy to get to know the other travelers in our small, friendly, gay and lesbian groups.

This is just one of our many active gay vacations.

Precarious castles and prehistoric cave art, gourmet food and great cycling

 


Truffles and Cave Bears: Bike in southwest France

Bike in southwest France: Frequently-Asked Questions about Truffles and Cave Bears

Bike along France's Dordogne River, through thousands of years of history. Prehistoric cave art depicts the rhinos and cave bears that once lived here, while magnificent chateaux attest to the years of struggle between England and France. And every evening, we enjoy the region's legendary cuisine, including truffles and foie gras.

This FAQ page is intended to accompany other pages about this trip and about our company (see links at left). Some of the answers below may include links to other other sites; please use the BACK key of your browser to return to this page.

Contents:

This is called a 7-day trip. Exactly what does that mean?
Our trip officially begins at 6:00 p.m., with a reception and orientation, followed by dinner. We officially end after breakfast on the last day, although you can leave as early as you like. Or stay around all day, for sightseeing with your new friends.

Our "7-day" trip thus consists of 6 full days and two partial days. Some companies promote a trip of this length as being 8 days since it includes pieces of 8 different days. We feel it's more accurate to refer to this as 7 days.Back to Top

When does this bike trip start and end?
Each bike trip officially starts at 6:00 p.m. on the starting date given on our schedule and trip overview. We'll have a reception and briefing, followed by dinner. For those who arrive early, we offer an optional walking tour of town (along with a chance to meet other early arrivals). Finally, when our guides' schedule allows, you can give your bike a test ride at 3:00. On arrival at the hotel, please look for our sign in the lobby giving details.

Each trip ends after breakfast. There are no group activities on that day, so if you have tight travel connections, you can get up and leave as early as you wish. When your schedule allows it, you'll probably want to spend some time sightseeing in town, with others from the trip, before departing.Back to Top

How do I get to Bergerac?
Bergerac, where the trip begins, is on France's extensive railroad network. Coming from Paris, you'll change at Libourne, outside Bordeaux.Back to Top

Where do I catch a train when the trip ends?
Rocamadour, where the trip ends, has a train station, with daily albeit infrequent service. Most people will probably want to spend the morning in Rocamadour, and catch an early-afternoon train.

Those with tight connections can take a cab to nearby Souillac, with more frequent train service.Back to Top

I'm traveling alone. Will everyone else be in couples?
Most of our trips draw more single travelers than couples. When couples do join us, it's usually because they're looking forward to interacting with a gay group; if they wanted a holiday by themselves, they wouldn't have signed up to travel with us. Furthermore, the activities included with our trips serve as natural ice-breakers. Within a day, you'll be traveling with friends.

You don't need to pay the single supplement if you're traveling alone. We'll be happy to match you with a roommate. Pay the single supplement only if you want a bedroom to yourself.Back to Top

Iím claustrophobic, are the caves big?
Most of the caves are large and well laid out for tours. If you have questions about a specific cave one of the guides will be happy to call for you.Back to Top

Can I talk with someone who's previously traveled with you?
We encourage you to do so.

Our website includes a full page of comments from past travelers. Most of them have volunteered to talk about their experiences with future potential travelers. Please call for the names and phone numbers of references in your area.Back to Top

What kind of bikes do you use?
We typically supply 21- or 27-speed hybrid bikes. We find them ideally suited for cycling trips of this sort. They have upright (rather than dropped) handlebars, and a low "granny" gear for hills. The brand and model can change from one location or season to another, and we cannot promise a brand name in advance.

We also supply a lock, spare tube and patch kit, and a handlebar bag or back rack for carrying a few small items.Back to Top

This trip looks fun, but is probably too hard for me. Is it okay to come anyway and ride in the van some days?
From time to time, people come on a trip intending to cycle but end up riding in the van because of a minor injury, or because they discover the trip is harder than they expected. If you need to ride in the van, we're happy to accommodate you.

However, this is a bike tour, not a van tour. The van's route and itinerary are set up to accommodate cyclists, not van passengers. You'll miss some of the sights, and some of the fun, if you're in the van.

We offer trips in a variety of terrains; you should be able to find a bike trip on which you can complete each day's biking. (They're summarized on our biking tours page.) You'll have a much better vacation if you select a trip that's right for your abilities.Back to Top

I want to bring a gel seat cover for my bike trip. What size is best?
The seats on most bikes we use are a standard size, neither the narrow racing seat nor the wide touring seat. Therefore we recommend medium-sized gel seat covers if you wish to bring one along.Back to Top

How does the van support work for cyclists?
The support van and driver fill several functions: Carrying your luggage to the next hotel; shopping and setting up a picnic lunch on selected days; and helping cyclists who have encountered unexpected problems, be it fatigue, a mechanical failure, or one too many pastries at lunch.

The specific van schedule varies day to day, based on a number of factors: the route, whether there's a picnic that day, and whether riders are all likely to be on the same road, or off on different options. Typically, the driver stays with or behind most of the group until about lunchtime (or earlier, if there's a picnic to set up), then drives ahead to deliver luggage into your rooms.

If most of the group is likely to be on the same road, the driver may then circle back to see if anyone needs the van. However, we suggest various optional routes each day, and many people on our trips like to explore independently. That means cyclists may be spread out over many miles, and over several routes. In most cases, we find that a cyclist who needs help will get it fastest by calling the driver at the hotel or calling their cell phone, rather than waiting for the van to patrol all the spots where cyclists could be riding.

We'll go over the details in more depth at the briefing when the trip starts. On paper (or on a computer screen) the system can seem uncertain because so many variables are involved. In practice, it works out well. There are many weeks when no one ever needs the van. If you do need assistance, generally you're able to get to a cafe or other comfortable spot while you wait for help.Back to Top

Is a stationary bike a good way to get in shape?
It's a good start -- but it won't get you fully prepared. This and other more general questions about biking are addressed on our biking FAQs page.Back to Top

Do I need to speak French?
No. Most people who travel abroad with us don't speak the language. But if you do know a little French, we urge you to brush up on it; you'll enjoy the trip more.Back to Top

I'm visiting Paris after the trip. Can you recommend a hotel there?
We sponsor a website called "Gay France" with information of interest to gay and lesbian travelers. The Paris Hotels page gives some suggestions.Back to Top

What's the train schedule from Paris?
You can get up-to-date rail schedules, as well as information about railpasses for France, and other European travel, from RailEurope. (In the U.S.: 888-794-7747.) For trains from Paris, you can select Paris (for trains departing from downtown stations) or Paris CDG Airport for trains from Charles de Gaulle Airport to your destination or a nearby TGV station.Back to Top

 

 

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