Great hotels, good mix of biking, sightseeing and culture, varied and fun bike routes.
I had a number of issues with this trip and company.
I submitted the evaluation after the trip. It took three weeks for a response. But the issues were significant enough that I did get a call from the President of the company which I do appreciate. The President of VBT told me he will look into the issues which again I appreciate and believe that he will. But I wanted to post to give future travelers a heads up.
Issue #1: The Bikes. They were crap. I am being polite. The guides warned us on the first day that chains were falling off the bikes. On the trip, my chain fell off two different days. One required a call to the guide to fix the bike. I also had issues with the gears and pedals on the other days.
I told the President guests must have an international calling plan in case of an emergency, bike breakdown issues or if you get lost. (He agreed) Two of three happened to me. I didn't have an international plan and I gasped when I got the bill.
Issue #2: Safety. One day, after lunch, the guide/sweeper didn't leave with the group. He did not ride with the group and was MIA. I was the last rider and didn't see the guide for at least 90 minutes. At that point I got lost. (Getting lost isn't the issue, it happens all the time.) The guide/sweeper eventually caught up with what he thought was the last group. No one in that group informed the guide/sweeper they weren't last.
A guide that is MIA is a safety issue. There was no concern for the wellness of others or awareness missing or lost people from the sweeper guide or the group as a whole.If you are a solo/single traveler, that's a big problem.
Cell service where we were was spotty. When I got lost I initially called the guide in the van. He said he missed the call because of poor reception which is okay. But if that's the case, that's even more reason for the guide riding to be with the group which as I stated he wasn't.
Again, the President told me he will discuss this with the Leader Manager. But this is unacceptable.
As a note, I did have this happen with another company on another trip. The lead guide made sure it didn't happen again. When I voiced my concern at the time to the sweeper guide there wasn't a concern or understanding of this issue.
Issue #3: Lack of awareness of group needs. If you don't keep up with the group, you will miss out on things like lunch. For example, when I arrived a 5-10 minutes after everyone one day, most of the group already eat the picnic lunch. There was very little food left. For me, it was a problem because I have dietary restrictions. The same thing happened the day before there was more variety. Again, the guide must be aware of dietary needs of guests. I paid for lunch. I should have had lunch.
The President did offer a $200 credit for a future trip. (My phone bill was more than that. A returning traveler gets more than that. It's barely a drop in the bucket.). But I won't be traveling with VBT again. I spent a lot of money on the trip and the issues are too significant. I was told what happened in an anomaly. If it was one issue, okay. It's not an anomaly when it's several major issues.
As a note, this isn't my first trip with this company. I have taken about 10 active vacations hiking, biking, rafting, skiing trips total with this company and others.