She said the group will pack their own helmets, cycling clothes, shoes, pedals and seats. Some will even travel with their own bicycles that can be condensed through the use of couplers to fit into regulation airline-size containers.
Each day will begin with an early breakfast followed by departure by 9 a.m. After a long day of cycling, with time out for a panini lunch and other stops, they’ll arrive at their destination town between 1 and 3 p.m. Then they’ll shower and wash their cycling clothes before meeting for dinner and a tour of the town.
“This is a self-guided tour, there’s no guide or sag wagon,” Vajda said. Still, those who don’t feel like cycling every day can ride with the taxi service that takes the group’s luggage from place to place, she said.
Kimber Bilby will take the trip with fiancé Bob Prust, who cycled in Spain with the group. A runner who also has mountain biking experience, Bilby is fairly new to the sport of road riding, having gotten in only a handful of rides with Prust and the group since fall.
To prepare for the trip, she’s taking spinning classes and riding an hour or more a day at home using bike training software. She also joined the group for last week’s Jolly Pumpkin Pedal, an organized group ride on the Old Mission Peninsula, and ordered a new saddle seat with plenty of padding.
“They’re very competitive, so it is a little intimidating,” said Bilby, 42, of Traverse City. “I’ve been training like the dickens to get my cadence up, my power up. My biggest nightmare is that they’re all going to look at their watches and be tapping their feet and waiting for me to come up the hill. It will ruin my trip if people wait on me, so that’s why I’ve been training so hard.”