ExperiencePlus! Blog

Julie’s Got the Dirt on our New Explorer Tours

I started traveling by bicycle in 1987 and by 2009 I had begun to grow tired of traffic on my rides along Colorado’s paved mountain roads. As I pored over maps for a two-week, self-supported ride from Fort Collins, CO to Telluride, CO I realized that if I had a bike that could accommodate wider tires my route options (and fun factor) would expand tremendously. Inspired and excited by the possibilities I purchased the first generation mixed-surface bike, a Salsa Fargo. Over ten years later my addiction to “bikepacking” is still going strong, and the popularity of gravel bikes and dirt riding has exploded. The opportunity to cycle confidently and comfortably regardless of road surface (paved, gravel, rocky) injects a sense of freedom and adventure that makes me feel like a kid again.

ExperiencePlus! now offers you the opportunity to hit the dirt in 2020! We have two new Explorer style tours: Cycling the Algarve region of southern Portugal, and Cycling Istria which crosses borders between Italy, Slovenia and Croatia.

Excited about this new tour style? Here are a few things to consider if you’re thinking about joining us on one of our Explorer tours this year:

Explorer Tours: What to expect when the pavement ends:

  • Riding on dirt is pure joy. As soon as I turn off the pavement my heart skips a beat, I find myself smiling, my senses heighten and a feeling of adventure washes over me. The theme song from Bonanza gets stuck on repeat – yes, I am that old.
  • Riding dirt takes more time and effort. Even if you are on a relatively smooth dirt road it will take you more time and effort to cover the same distance than if you are on pavement. If the surface is rough or rocky you can plan on doubling your time and effort. For example, I used to plan 40-60 mile days when touring on pavement. For dirt I reduced that to 30- 35 miles, and for 4-wheel drive sections a maximum of 20 miles a day.

Explorer Attitude:

  • Hotels are comfortable but not glitzy. Because the riding is just a little audacious, we thought let’s make these tours less expensive and go back to basics with simple 2 and occasional 3-star accommodations.
  • Self-sufficiency. Joining an Explorer tour means you are intrigued by the idea of self-sufficiency. We’ll teach you how to change your own tire, navigate using a GPS, and give you the confidence to boldly go places you may never have considered.
  • Back to nature. Explorer tours are about back country routes that will bring riders to a dusty state of bliss.
  • Explorers prefer a small town to a large city; eating simply but well.
  • Local leaders. We’ve still got our wonderful tour leaders supporting you on Explorer tours. You can still count on luggage transfers and support but given the nature of the routes the van will not always be able to follow the cyclists.