Frequently Asked Questions
How did/when did you start Velo Classic Tours? I began in 2000, and our first trip was to the French Alps. I could explain more, but this link tells it best…(link coming soon)
Where are you based? Our office is in New York City, and we live in Rye, NY in Westchester County, which has some great riding. In Europe, we are based in Lede, Belgium. The Henderickx family is our host, and provides us with storage for our equipment. It is like a second home for us, and as with all the Flemish, nothing is ever a problem!
How do you find your hotels/restaurants? I take this part of my business as serious as planning the routes. I keep myself up to date daily on the latest hotel and restaurant developments, trends, hotspots, not so hotspots, fads, and I subscribe to a select few food/wine/hotel member subscription clubs that provide reviews, insight, and recommendations. I also enjoy eating, so I get to sample some great places (and some not so great). First hand experience always counts best.
What is your favorite area/trip to ride in? This is a more complex question than it may seem. For pure cycling/race viewing excitement, nothing tops the Spring Classics. For visual drama that matches the physical challenge, the Dolomites. For the food connoisseur in me, nothing beats the Basque Country. For endlessly scenic, rolling terrain, that’s a toss up between Tuscany (if you like Italian wine) the Basque Country (if you like cheese) and Provence (if you like French wine).
Is the water in the hotel safe to drink? Absolutely.
My traveling companion likes to ride, but is not at the same level as me- will they enjoy the trip and can their level of riding be accommodated? Yes, they will enjoy the trip, and yes their ability can be accommodated. In addition to our tours being about more than just the riding, we offer alternate starting and finishing points each day, and can suggest the best parts of each day to ride. With our van and road leader(s), no one is ever left to ride on their own, or unsupported.
Do you welcome non-cycling participants? Non-cyclists are welcome and are offered a reduced rate. We develop an itinerary based on their interests, and make arrangements for any activities that suit them. Some trips are better structured than others to accommodate this, and I’m happy to discuss this in more detail.
How did you get connected with the professionals that are your guests on the trip? Again, this is a unique part of our business that has taken a long time to establish, and we are constantly creating new contacts through current ones, at races, trade shows, etc. It is a challenge to find the right person who is both right for us and who is interested in maintaining a long term working relationship.
Who leads the tours, and who do you have assisting you? I develop, scout, and lead every tour on my schedule. I have personally eaten in every restaurant, slept in every hotel, and ridden every road. My primary co-leader is my wife, Lisa, who excels at providing first class service, support and hospitality. I also have 4 other guides in Europe that I schedule regularly, and who have proven successful in meeting our requirements for hospitality.
Do you offer VIP hospitality/race viewing day services separate from your trip itinerary? Our race viewing/VIP hospitality days are the most unique of any tour operator. We have worked tirelessly to develop the relationships that enable us to access a race from the inside, and to view/understand the race from the best vantage points. This is done solely for the benefit of those clients choosing Velo Classic Tours. For this reason, we do not offer single day race viewing packages, and we do not share race viewing information or offer race day “tips”. I appreciate respecting this policy.
What tools are available on your trips, and do I need my own spare tubes, tires, floor pump and CO2 cartridges? Is there a mechanic available to help assemble/disassemble my bike? We have a professional mechanics tool kit from Pedro’s; workstand; pump, spare kit with tubes and tires and miscellaneous small parts, and offer CO2 cartridges for use during the trip. I am a USCF certified mechanic, and look after the bikes on all of our trips, including assembly and disassembly.
When will your Tour de France itineraries be online? We stopped offering Tour de France itineraries after the 2006 season. We have enough experience at other races/events to know that what may have once been special about the Tour has been lost in the massive entertainment campaign that it is, and we like to put our efforts elsewhere.
Can you recommend a bike travel case? Trico Iron Case or Thule Bike Travel Case.
How do I know if I am fit enough/strong enough for your tours? The key to enjoying any of our itineraries is in your ability to ride for 4-5 hours a day on consecutive days. How many consecutive days is up to you. Rarely is it ever a test of heart rate, or VO2 max as our rides are not geared towards a group ride/race pace mentality. The effort comes in endurance. Certainly the terrain is a factor, but even if you have your heart set on riding the cols of the French Alps or the Dolomites, its still a case of endurance/time, as ones efforts will always fall just below their threshold, so it is still possible to ride without the fear of “blowing up”. Rather, it is a matter of understanding the length of time required to ascend. If a climb is 24 kilometers long, and you can ride 12 kilometers/hour, then you know it will take 2 hours to ride. Unless your plan is to ride at an interval pace, this has proven to be the most successful mindset to have when approaching the trip, and creating an equal balance of challenge and fun.