Trek vs. Backroads comparison
I have travelled on three trips with Trek to the Tour de France, Ireland and a New Zealand Multisport. Having recently tried my first Backroads trip, I can testify that Trek beats Backroads hands down in every category. First, with respect to guides experience. When they started Trek, a number of guides were hired by Trek from Backroads. Their experience has continued to accumulate and I have had the same guide on more than one trip. They don't seem to have turnover and because of this you get really experienced guides.
Every morning on my Trek trips, their mechanics were going over our bikes making sure everything was in good shape before our ride. On Backroads recently, I was shocked to witness clients having to check their own tires and asking to have air put in their tires. On road support Trek guides continue to monitor the routes back and forth, beginning to end and they do not leave their posts until every client is off the road. Backroads on the other hand, has guides that are at lunch while clients are lost out on the road, at times nonresponsive to phone calls requesting help. All my Trek guides were from the US or Canada and seemed to have years more experience then the young, inexperienced foreign guides Backroads is now hiring. And the guides on Trek that I have had remember what your favorite drinks and snacks are and have them ready from van support. In fact one day in New Zealand when I thought all the orange juice was gone and no stores were available, up pulls my guide, Dave Edwards(who has years of experience and is fantastic) with my orange juice.
On Backroads, they tell you to get what you need in the food and drink piles if they even have what you like. Unfortunately, I think Backroads is just "getting too big for their britches" as they say. They don't even send you a bike jersey for their trips, only a tee shirt and previous clients have told me they had to buy them to get them. Trek on the other hand, sent us beautiful bike jerseys that I recently wore on my Backroads trip. One would think that is silly that we are all advertising for Trek while we ride on our Backroads trips.
As other reviews have attested to, Trek supplies fantastic bikes while Backroads doesn't seem to care much what you get. On our trip, a client paid extra to ride a Specialized bike that was more on par with the Madone's that Trek supplies. I have never had to pay extra for a great Madone with Trek. Beware of Backroads lodging as they do not seem to evaluate there lodging spots to make sure there are adequate acceptable rooms for all their clients. Two out of three lodging spots on our trip had terrible attics room that no one wanted but someone always got stuck with. And ironically it seemed to be the most repeat customers on Backroads that had the best rooms. I may have been lucky on my Trek trips but I do not remember hearing any other clients complaining about their rooms with Trek. On Backroads, it was not hard to find out who got struck with the hot attic room the night before.
On to food and drink. Trek had a fabulous cocktail hour or wine tasting every night of every trip I took with them. Backroads will do it occasionally but nothing like Trek and generally you are on your own. The food seemed to be better quality and more plentiful on Trek,at times feeling like a feast at some of the castles in Ireland. Recently, I skipped lunch on Backroads since I made a wrong turn and the flies had been feasting on my lunch for at least an hour. No guides seemed to be concerned or offer any thing fresh. Another day Background had us meet at a restaurant in a small town and you would think that we would at least have water on the table after our long hot ride. Trek would have it all set up but on Backroads you better be able to get it for yourself. As you can tell I am a happy satisfied customer of Trek. It is surprising too me how many repeat customer I have met on Backroads. I don't get it other than to say, "they just don't know what they are missing".