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11 Day The Culture Vulture Bike Tour in Europe

London - Harwich, England; Amsterdam - Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands; Brussles - Chimay, Belgium; Soissons - Paris, France

Multicountry Bike Tour Europe

The Vulture epitomises cycle touring at its finest. A great chance to experience Europe’s great cycle trails and explore some must see capitals. Each leg finishes in an iconic European city, and arrival is made even more special as you have arrived under your own steam. An air of superiority over the coach loads of tourists slouching their way across Europe, viewing it all through the safety of their luxury reclining bus seat.

Key information

  • Trip type: Guided
  • Lodging: Point to Point
  • Terrain: Hilly, flat
  • Difficulty level: Challenging (Cyclist needs to have a high level of fitness, must be an active rider, the terrain includes really challenging climbs or 46-80 or more miles per day)
  • Total Distance : 490 Miles / 785 Kilometers
  • Vacation type: Road cycling
  • Type of bike: Road bike

Highlights

  • Cycling through 4 countries across Europe
  • Daily cycle guide and physical route maps or GPS points
  • Support van for luggage transport, mechanical assistance, and tired cyclists
  • Airport transfer at the start and end of your journey
  • Mammoth Journeys’ cycle top
  • 11 breakfasts and 5 dinners
  • 11 nights’ accommodation

Styles


8 days with instruction
Group size: Maximum of 10 participants
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Accommodation

You will be provided with 11 nights accommodation during this cycling tour, including the night in London for the journey briefing. The accommodation will be mostly three to four-star hotels.

Where possible, Mammoth Journeys will endeavor to stay in homestays and local style accommodation. This is obviously dependent on the type of journey you are on. Participants will be expected to sleep in a twin or double room during the length of the journey.

Program

The Vulture epitomises cycle touring in its finest. It offers the best combination of challenging European cycling balanced with a chance to explore three great capitals. This is a great journey to dip your toe into the cycle-touring world and tick off some must-see cities. The journey is split into three legs with individuals completing the entire route and cycling as much as possible.

Each leg finishes in an iconic European city and arrival is made even more special as you have arrived under your own steam. You will get an air of superiority over the coach loads of tourists slouching their way across Europe, viewing it all through the safety of their luxury reclining bus seat.

Leg 1: London to Amsterdam (215 kilometers / 135 miles)

  • Day 1: London to Harwich (130 kilometers / 81 miles)
  • Day 2: Hook of Holland to Amsterdam (80 kilometers / 50 miles)
  • Day 3: Rest day in Amsterdam

You shall arrive in London the day before the departure for a brief of the journey, kit check, any questions, and most importantly; the pre-journey photos.

This will be an action-packed short leg as you head north-east out of London into the Essex countryside for a long first day riding towards Harwich. You will be recharging the batteries on the overnight ferry before arriving in Holland. Going via The Hague on your way to Amsterdam, you will make full use of your time in Holland.

A shorter second-day distance wise gives you a good opportunity to visit some sights in the Hague and also arrive in Amsterdam within a good time. A full day in Amsterdam at the end of the first leg will give you ample time to explore as many of its famous sites as you wish.

If you are heading out to explore these classic European cities, you need to be looking and feeling your best. Each night on the journey, you will be accommodated in a hotel, giving you a well-deserved hot shower to freshen up at the end of a hard cycle.

Leg 2: Amsterdam to Brussels (Distance: 240 kilometers / 150 miles)

  • Day 4: Amsterdam to Hertogenbosch (100 kilometers / 62 miles)
  • Day 5: Hertogenbosch to Brussels (140 kilometers / 87 miles)
  • Day 6: Rest day in Brussels

To balance the hectic scenes of Amsterdam, you will head to the smaller southern low key town of Hertogenbosch. Using the infamous Dutch cycleways makes your route into Belgium very pleasant. You will be passing through Tilburg and Turnhout, taking in their iconic medieval moated castles, cathedrals, and market squares.

The long ride into Brussels makes you appreciate your celebratory Belgium beer at the end of a tough second day of this leg. Riding through Holland and Belgium is quieter and easier than in the UK and France, you can enjoy this time of solitude. A pretty productive week here as you have just cycled through three countries, you won't do normal at Mammoth!

Leg 3: Brussels to Paris (330 kilometers / 205 miles)

  • Day 7: Brussels to Chimay (100 kilometers / 62 miles)
  • Day 8: Chimay to Soissons (120 kilometers / 75 miles)
  • Day 9: Soissons to Paris (110 kilometers / 68 miles)
  • Day 10: Rest day in Paris

The quaint towns continue as you leave Belgium into France. You will be stopping overnight in Chimay, the birthplace of the famous Belgium beer, and Soissons, one of France's most ancient cities and also a World War I battle site. With manageable distances each day, it will allow plenty of opportunities to explore the famous cathedrals, abbeys, and museums.

All these pedal rotations finally lead you to Paris. Little over a week ago leaving the iconic Big Ben, you will arrive at the Eiffel Tower. It will be an incredibly productive ‘holiday’, the celebratory champagne toast at the end signifies a 10-day stretch like no other, and perhaps, the start of a new lifestyle. There will be a final day exploring the many Parisian highlights before the end of your journey, will this ignite you to try the next level?

Physical fitness

Obviously this depends whether if you are on a short or long tour, but generally you should be able to ride 80 - 140 kilometers of undulating terrain comfortably for three consecutive days. You will never be able to mimic the demands of a month bicycle touring, but having a good base will make the whole journey more enjoyable. Everyone will struggle at different stages, but normally the first leg is the toughest and then your body will adapt and get used to what you are doing to it!

Group riding

You can ride at your own pace throughout the whole tour. As long as you get to the hotel for that evening. You can spend your day cycling as long as you like. The cycle guides will ensure you hit certain points for a lunchtime pit stop just so Mammoth Journeys knows you are on course and doing OK.

The cycle guide will be riding the route at a steady pace, between 16-24 kph on average depending on terrain. On particularly flat days this pace will be quicker, pushing to the high 20's.

Luggage transfers

There will be a support vehicle which can carry your luggage throughout the day. However, it is recommended to carry your personal items for that day stuffed into your cycle jersey, a handlebar bag, small rucksack, or equivalent. You will not have access to the van at all times and it is best to have small items for the day with you.

Mechanical support

The Mammoth Journey team has reasonable bike mechanical knowledge and will hold a good selection of tools. However, individuals are expected to be able to change a simple puncture as a baseline. The support van will be there to assist as much as able to get you to the end. Patch jobs in order to get you to the next big city or town where spare parts and a qualified mechanic may be the best option.

The Mammoth team will try their best to get the bike back on the road, it may be a patch job which hopefully gets you to the next major town and a bike mechanic shop. Failing that, there will be a spare bike on the support vehicle if they are unable to get yours back on the road. Any repairs to personal bikes are at the expense of the individual.

The guides

On each day of touring, there will be one guide on a bike and one in the van. The role of the guide riding will vary throughout the journey and throughout the day. They will tend to help with navigation through the city and stop at certain points to make sure everyone if getting on OK, and to point out any major attraction which may have been missed.

The guide in the van will usually be sweeping the route from the back and checking there are no issues. They will then wait at the lunchtime or halfway point for again to make sure everything is running smoothly. They will then sweep the second half of the route for that day and be waiting for you at the hotel when you arrive.

The guide is not a wine sommelier, would not pick World War trench location as their specialist subject on Mastermind, and was not previously employed by Team Sky in any capacity. Their aim is for you to enjoy your journey as much as possible and get you to your end destination.

Medical emergency

Throughout the majority of the journey, you will have mobile coverage should you require the emergency services. Mammoth Journeys recommends all individuals to carry a mobile phone with them. The cycle guide will also have access to an emergency beacon. On the rare occasion that you are not within mobile coverage, this will be used to notify the emergency services.

Riding on adverse weather

Cycling across an entire continent presuming there will be perfect weather every day is naive. If the weather is too dangerous to cycle e.g. wind too strong or torrential rain, Mammoth Journeys will take shelter wherever possible, hopefully somewhere with coffee! If the weather does not subside and riding is still unsafe, the van will transport individuals to the hotel at the end of that day. Riding in adverse weather is at the discretion of the individual, as everybody's level of acceptability is different.

Location

This cycling tour will start in London and will continue on to Harwich in United Kingdom, Amsterdam and Hertogenbosch in the Netherlands, Brussels to Chimay in Belgium, and Soissons to Paris in France.

Food

Breakfasts will vary, dependant on the leg you are cycling. In Europe, this is usually continental with the potential at times for a hot option. Lunch is not provided on the journey. However, Mammoth Journeys will give you some suggestions of options along the route, and in the towns and cities you stop in. Dinner will be the main meal of the day. No need to worry about any more riding for the day so Mammoth Journeys can fuel you for the next day and replenish all that burnt energy, all on a mix of locally sourced and prepared ingredients. Obviously, it changes depending on the region you go through.

The following meals are included:

  • Breakfast
  • Dinner

The following dietary requirement(s) are served and/or catered for:

  • Regular (typically includes meat and fish)
If you have special dietary requirements it's a good idea to communicate it to the organiser when making a reservation

What's included

  • Daily cycle guide and physical route maps or GPS points
  • Support van for luggage transport, mechanical assistance, and tired cyclists
  • Mammoth Journeys’ cycle top
  • Recommended kit list
  • Airport transfer at the start and end of your journey (conditions apply)
  • 11 breakfasts and 5 dinners
  • 11 nights’ accommodation

What's not included

  • Bike hire
  • Personal insurance
  • Flights at the start or end of your journey
  • Any meals, tours, gratuities, or transport outside of the journey's proposed route and plan
  • Any in-hotel purchases such as phone bill, laundry, room service, etc.

Cancellation Policy

  • A reservation requires a deposit of 12.1% of the total price.
  • The deposit is non-refundable, if the booking is cancelled.
  • The rest of the payment should be paid 30 days before arrival.
11 days / 10 nights
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Availability

Arrival: Monday August 31, 2020
Departure: Thursday September 10, 2020

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