Reflections On A Bike Tour Of The Dordogne
Q & A With Norie Quintos
Norie Quintos is an Editor at Large at Nat Geo Travel Media, as well as a content strategist advising destinations and travel companies. This is her second bike tour, but she plans to do another one soon. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @NorieCicerone or visit her at www.noriequintos.com. All photos by Norie Quintos copyright 2015.
Some solo travelers might balk at joining a group tour. You?
I’ve been on many group tours, but I will admit to being anxious when I realized that I was the only solo person on a trip filled with couples. However, the friendliness of fellow riders and the helpfulness of the guides quickly dispelled all that. The first group dinner broke the ice and thereafter I always had a dinner invitation from one or more couples on the “free” nights. I will suggest that solo travelers book themselves on one of the larger tours, the easier to find riding companions of similar ability.
How is seeing a place on a bike tour different from other ways of traveling?
I’m not going to knock other forms of travel, because each has its sets of advantages and disadvantages. But, bike touring has become one of my favorite modes. Unlike cars and buses, bikes allow you to engage more with the environment. Unlike walking, bikes are perched higher and cover more ground. Bikes don’t pollute and bikes keep you fit, enabling you to enjoy (and eat) more of the destination.
What surprised you most about the trip?
It said so right in the itinerary, but I didn’t really believe one could cycle from village to town to hamlet on a network of secondary roads in the Dordogne until I did it myself. Another surprise was that the navigational chalk marks worked as well as they did.
What do you wish you would have known before going?
I knew this, but nevertheless, I wish I had trained more on an actual bike in real road conditions (versus a spin bike in a gym). I would have been more comfortable stopping, starting, turning in traffic, especially on hills with clipped pedals.
How would you describe riding through the Dordogne in one sentence?
This is a rollicking ride along one of Europe’s most underrated rivers through France’s celebrated wine and truffle country; with a soupcon of foie gras and prehistoric cave culture.
What were the highlights of your 11 day trip?
The varied beauty of the daily rides. Going up to Rocamadour just as the daytrippers are leaving and experiencing the quiet mystery of the place. The pan-fried foie gras over roasted apple at L’Addrese, in Sarlat. The canoe trip on the river. The swellegant stay at La Chartreuse du Bignac. The coffee stops on the rides.
Where do you want to go next (by bike!) and why?
Thinking Italy. Another great combo of food, wine, culture, and beauty.
How do you choose where to go next?
Everybody is different, but areas of the world I find intriguing have a rich living culture, compelling landscape, sustainably oriented outfitters, and perhaps an untold story.
What else should we have asked that we didn’t? What Makes an EXPERIENCEPLUS! tour different?
I’ve never seen so many repeat clientele, and such a passionate bunch, surely a testament to the quality of the trips. The custom bikes are in excellent shape, sized appropriately, and serviced daily. The itineraries are planned in minute detail, mapped, and checked out in advance. And the guides are knowledgeable, attentive, and warm.
If you’d like to explore the idea of joining one of our bike tour itineraries in Dordogne, you can find the details for the 7 day tour here: Cycling The Dordogne or the 11 day trip that Norie took: Cycling The Dordogne Plus Vineyards of Bordeaux