What is in a name (and a logo)?
Odyssey.....meaning to voyage, trek, travel, quest, crusade, pilgrimage, wander and journey..... defined as a long series of wanderings or adventures, filled with notable experiences.
The Odyssey: an epic journey and challenge, an exceptional historical tale, an amazing character, Odysseus, finding himself through his journey. Odyssey was an easy word to choose for us when we were looking at a name for our company.
As for the logo....yes we agree it is a slightly odd logo for a cycle touring company! However the story is a great historical one so here it is:
Odysseus, the protagonist of The Odyssey, written by Homer around the 8th century BCE, spent 10 years floating around the Mediterranean after fighting with the Greeks at Troy (Watch Brad Pitt's Troy for more details - joking..). He encountered the Cyclops, Sirens, and a Nymph, fights battles and meets the Gods, he even visits the Land of the Dead (yes it is the perfect tour besides the last bit!). Odysseus finally arrives at his homeland, Ithaca. In his absence, his household has gone to pot, suitors have taken over his house in hopes of marrying his wife Penelope. In order to secretly re-enter his house to ultimately spring a surprise attack on the suitors, Odysseus disguises himself as a beggar and is led to his house by Eumaeus an old friend who does not yet recognise who he is...
"As they were speaking, a dog that had been lying asleep raised his head and pricked up his ears. This was Argos, whom Odysseus had bred before setting out for Troy, but he had never had any enjoyment from him. In the old days he used to be taken out by the young men when they went hunting wild goats, or deer, or hares, but now that his master was gone he was lying neglected on the heaps of mule and cow dung that lay in front of the stable doors till the men should come and draw it away to manure the great close; and he was full of fleas. As soon as he saw Odysseus standing there, he dropped his ears and wagged his tail, but he could not get close up to his master. When Odysseus saw the dog on the other side of the yard, he dashed a tear from his eyes without Eumaeus seeing it, and said:
'Eumaeus, what a noble hound that is over yonder on the manure heap: his build is splendid; is he as fine a fellow as he looks, or is he only one of those dogs that come begging about a table, and are kept merely for show?'
'This dog,' answered Eumaios, 'belonged to him who has died in a far country. If he were what he was when Odysseus left for Troy, he would soon show you what he could do. There was not a wild beast in the forest that could get away from him when he was once on its tracks. But now he has fallen on evil times, for his master is dead and gone, and the women take no care of him. Servants never do their work when their master's hand is no longer over them, for Zeus takes half the goodness out of a man when he makes a slave of him.'
So saying he entered the well-built mansion, and made straight for the riotous pretenders in the hall. But Argos passed into the darkness of death, now that he had fulfilled his destiny of faith and seen his master once more after twenty years."
So from Odysseus to his amazing loyal dog Argos. Yes it is a bit random but this logo is him!
Inclusions / Exclusions
What does the trip price include?
- All accommodation
- All breakfasts, snacks all day (riding, post ride)
- Picnic lunches 5 days a week.
- Exceptional dinners 5 days a week.
- Van support (with our coffee machine on our remote tours). 1 vehicle per 12 guests
- 1 expert guide per 6 riders
- Exceptional documentation - overviews, itineraries, accommodation lists and daily maps with information on locations visited and historical context.
- Your own soigneur - At least 2 massages per week on tour to keep the legs and mind fresh on all our tours where we have 18 guests or more.
- A history specialist to excite the mind.
- Wine tastings and on many of our tours a sommelier traveling with the group.
- Latest technology in navigation and tracking - each rider will have a user-friendly GPS device.
What is not included?
- Personal Insurance
- Bike Hire
- Personal expenses
- Alcohol (we do run an optional wine kitty on tour)
If you require accommodation pre and post the tour at the start and finish hotels of your tour please contact us. We can ensure you get the same room and our preferential rates. Please email your requirements to your tour manager.
If you require assistance with flight arrangements and any pre or post tour travel then our travel partner is Travel Associates who have offices in both Australia and the United States. They manage all of our own tour travel arrangements. If you are in Australia contact Angela and her team on 1800 612 192 (free call). Alternatively you can email her at email@example.com. If you are in the United States please contact Vera Andric on 800-748-3302 (free call) or firstname.lastname@example.org. Simply mention the tour you are on and they will be very happy to assist.
Travel insurance is required for all guests on our tours. We recommend that you purchase cover for baggage, health, travel and accident insurance. Bike Odyssey will not assume responsibility or liability for any loss or damage to persons or their personal effects, or for any injury or loss sustained during the tour. It is obligatory that all guests have health insurance cover before travelling with us. Our partner Travel Associates can assist you with purchasing insurance, please contact Angela or Vera on the numbers and emails above.
Is there a single supplement for your tours?
If you wish to have a room to yourself then there is a single supplement to be paid. If you want to share a room but we are unable to find a roommate for you then we will have to charge you a single supplement. However in these cases we will contribute 50% to the cost as we understand it was never your intention to have a single room. If you share a room (double or twin) there will be no single supplement charge.
To secure your place on a tour you need to fill out the booking form and pay the deposit (1500 dollars or euros). At 120 days we will issue the full invoices and at 90 days the balance needs to be paid in full. Tours booked within this period require full payment at the time of booking. Our full Terms and Conditions can be read here.
We suggest that you arrive at least one day prior to the tour start, which will enable you to adjust to the time zone and minimize the risk of missing the trip start due to flight related delays.
A key element in any great trip is memorable accommodation. Every night we strive to ensure that you don’t forget (for good reasons of course!) your night’s stay. For this reason we avoid chain hotels and look for unique accommodation which will always be at the upper end of the scale. We go for the beautiful lodges and wineries in Chile on the Che tour, the castles of Europe on Lionheart (where else would you want to stay when following Richard the Lionheart!) or the mix of monasteries, chalets and paradors on Hannibal. All are exceptional.
How Many riders are there in the group?
Our numbers are based around the ratio of having at least 1 guide per 6 riders. So if we have 7 riders we will have 2 guides, 13 riders 3 guides and for 19 or more riders we will have 4 guides. The maximum number of people on any tour is 24 people. For information on the type of guides we have please see the guide section below.
The Loyal Riders Program
We have had a lot riders who come back and ride epic tours with us year after year and we really appreciate this. We also want you to feel valued as a returning rider. This is why we have setup our loyalty program. This program includes a discount on any return trip but perhaps more importantly we strive every year to make it worth your while to ride with us. Whether it be free kit or bike related items, a bottle of Champagne on arrival, action photos or a ride we do our best to show our appreciation of your loyalty.
The grading system is our way of informing you how hard the trips are to help you make a decision on which tour to choose. All our tours are challenging so compared to most grading systems our bar starts a little higher. For a full breakdown of the system please click here.
For all our tours we provide a pre tour document which outlines all the practical essentials regarding your tour. From meeting points to what to pack, navigation to kits this document will hopefully answer any practical questions you may have about the tour. This document will go to guests 6+ months out from the tour. At 4 months out a final detailed itinerary and accommodation list will be sent to all guests. On the tour map sheets will be handed out daily. This includes all the essentials regarding the hotel and stops on route as well as a map and some cultural notes.
Shuttles and your arrival and departure
The start and end point for all of our tours is the hotels that we begin and end the tours in. We will provide a shuttle to this hotel from the major airport hub and city precinct on the day the tour begins. We will also provide a shuttle on the final day of the tour to the major airport hub and within the final city destination. Unfortunately, we are not able to provide shuttles on other days due to the logistical complications.
Food, Snacks and drinks on tour
Food and Wine is key to any great travelling experience. Every dinner is chosen carefully whether it be a 5 course degustation or a meal at a local trattoria. We also have sommeliers on our guide team so as you ride through the vineyards or sit down for an aperitif they will be able to tell you all about it! As for our lunches, they are always a highlight for the guests and the envy of every other cyclist who rolls past! They are always filled with local fresh produce and we cater for all dietary requirements. Last but not least we know the importance of coffee in every cyclist's diet. This is why, for our more remote tours where the perfect espresso is not available, we built into our support vehicle a commerical grade coffee machine (and made our guides take a barista course!) Do you fancy an espresso at the top of Osorno Volcano overlooking Patagonia?
Snacks are provided as part of the tour package and the vans will always be stocked. In the morning and at the end of each day there will be a table setup at the hotel with fruit, bars, local treats, etc to keep you going or pop in your pocket. If you ever need anything please ask.
All non-alcoholic drinks are provided for our guests and there will always be a selection of cold soft drinks and juices in the van at all times of day.
The wine kitty is a way for those who enjoy a drink to have easy and educated access to wine each evening. It is completely optional and if you wish to drink and/or choose your own tipple you are welcome to. A number of our guides are genuine professionals in this field - not in drinking the wine but as sommeliers, so their input into wine choice is excellent. The wine kitty works in that those that wish to participate put in an equal amount per week (usually around 50 euros depending on the area) and our guides will choose and have wines ready to go with the meals. If the kitty runs out they will ask for more money to be contributed but generally they will choose local and interesting wines consumate to money contributed.
Can you accommodate special dietary requirements?
Yes of course. We understand everyone’s requirements are different and that on a challenging trip that you want to be sure to get the food which sustains you best. The standard of our restaurants is such that we generally have no trouble accommodating any dietary requirements. Please let us in advance of any needs you may require.
Transport and Support Vehicles
Transport wise, everything is covered while you are on tour with us. This includes any transfers, shuttles or support that is required. On your tour there will be one or two vehicles depending on numbers (1 vehicle up to 16 riders, 2 after that). When there are two vehicles one will move the luggage and set up the picnic lunches. The other will support the group and provide the snacks. With smaller groups one vehicle will fulfill both these roles. Both vehicles always play the role of the sag wagon and are available for support or a lift whether it be just up a hill or to the end of the day.
Can I choose to have a day off from the bike if I want to?
The simple answer to this is that it is your holiday and you can choose to ride as much or as little as you like. There will always be multiple vehicles supporting if you want to do a half day, have a sleep in or take a whole day off to wander round and sight see or just relax.
Riding on our expeditions is a challenging undertaking so we want you to be as comfortable as possible. Therefore whether you choose to bring your own bike or ride one of ours is completely up to you. Regarding our bikes for hire we have taken a different tact (again!) from most touring companies here. What we do at Bike Odyssey is run exceptional tours and as with the touring industry there are a plethora of bike hire companies across Europe and around the world. Therefore we stick to our tour expertise and rather than own a tired fleet of bikes (check any tour companies fleet and you’ll understand what I mean) we engage with the best of these companies to provide you the best options possible and not just one of them. Therefore if you choose to hire a bike from us this ensures we offer only the latest models and best options always. In Europe we have access to Trek, Specialized, De Rosa and Canyon, mechanical and DI2. Please have a look at the bike page and let us know what you fancy and we will track it down!
If I hire a bike how can I be sure that the bike will fit?
Obviously the best fit you can usually hope for is your own bike as that is what you are most used to. That said we are confident that our choice of quality bikes, and experience of fitting people to bikes, is such that you won’t be disappointed. We fit people to their hire bikes based on their height and bike inseam (we gather these details after you have booked on the tour). We don’t just ask you for your bike frame size because different manufacturers calculate frame sizes differently. In addition we also carry extra handlebar and seat stems, saddles and spacers to enable us to make further adjustments to suit the needs of the individual rider.
We are happy to transport any soft or fold down bike case along with us in the trailer on tour. However space is at a premium in our vans so if you choose to bring a hard case this will need to be couriered to the final hotel of the trip. This cost will be passed on to you but we are happy to arrange this for you. Please let us know if you require this service.
We love running custom tours as we get to work with guests to create their ideal trip! Whether they be an adaption of one of our current offerings or a completely new journey, our expert trip designers are happy to work with you to create your perfect tour. Get in touch and we would love to sit down with you and explore your requirements. For more information please click here:
Who will be my guides?
We take a great deal of care in structuring our guide teams. Below are some of the roles the guides perform to give you an idea of the skills they have and areas they cover on tour. On your tour there will be 1 guide per 6 guests and they will cover these skill sets between them.
Tour Leader: A highly experienced guide (10+ years) with intimate knowledge of the tour and the areas it goes through. Responsible for the group and for their team.
Local Expert: We always use local experts as their contributions go beyond showing you a nice road to ride on. Whether it be getting you tickets to the ballet in St Petersburg Russia, introducing you to their favourite local cafe in Pienza Italy, or taking you for a dip in the hot springs of Patagonia Chile, they really give the tours that special inside edge.
Mechanic: On all tours we have at least one highly experienced and trained bike mechanic. They will take care of your bike whether you have hired it through us or have brought your own. If there are any issues they can’t handle or special new parts needed they will take the bike to a local shop to get it sorted.
Historians: As our tours are based on historically themed routes we always have specialists in the history of the trip. Obviously this is a slightly left field requirement for guides who are so often jack of all trades, but we have searched the guide ranks to find these special people. Our other option is to engage experts - archaeologist, historians, professors, authors - to come in for a talk over dinner, to guide you round a ruin, or even the whole journey to bring the stories to life as you roll through that region.
Soigneurs: On all our tours we have a massage therapist travel with us to set up every afternoon/evening at your hotel and deliver to your tired muscles the work or relaxation that is needed. You will be able to enjoy a massage, if you wish, at least twice a week, assuming that everyone wants to take full advantage of this superb service! We want the evenings to be a complete rejuvination of body through fabulous food, treated muscles and a great sleep so you are up and running out the door in enthusiasm and vigour, day after day.
Cultural Experts: Whether it be gastronomic delicacies, vineyards, crafts, myths or legends, our guides are chosen who know the areas you are travelling through well. They are either from there or have guided there for a number of years. We always have a linguist for each different country we go through which ensures for a smooth operation.
Genuine Cyclists: No guide rides with us who is not genuinely in love with the bike. We are not saying they have to be fanatical but they are all highly experienced and exceptional bike handlers.
Drivers: All our guides are experienced drivers and will take turns at manning the vehicles. This ensures that no one gets bored driving day after day, but all get a rest for their legs now and then so are refreshed and keen to get back on the bikes to challenge and enthuse the group at every level.
Motivators: All of the guides, ducking back and forth through the group will keep you motivated along the journey. It might involve making a daily plan over breakfast of how much or which part of the day to ride, or giving you advice and training on how to tackle a certain challenge. This is a must-have skill for all our guides and through years of experience know how best to help you to achieve your goals.
Moral Support: There are no more enthusiastic people you want to ride with than our team. Yes our tours are challenging, but also doable. We strive to make every part of it as smooth and supportive as possible to give you the best chance of finishing the tour as you want to, or in many cases surprising you with achieving more than you’d ever hoped for. See some of our testimonials who have felt this about us…………..
In terms of everyday tipping in restaurants and hotels we have got that covered. However, we work in an industry in which tipping of the guides is standard and as such we suggest that if your guides have done a good job that you tip them at the end of the tour. We appreciate that different cultures have different ideas on what constitutes a reasonable tip, so to give you an idea, most tours get tipped between 5-10%. Saying this, we don't suggest a set figure. We pay our guides well and remind them to consider tips as an added bonus rather than to expect them. However, we employ fantastic guides who are known to give well above their duties, so if you feel they have done a good job, please show your appreciation. We leave it completely at your discretion as to how much.