Why I’ve Taken 10 Backroads Trips–and Counting!

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My husband and I love to travel. Years ago, we were on a trip to Paris and we took a day excursion to the Loire Valley. As we traveled by bus through the countryside, I was stunned by the beauty yet dismayed to be seeing it from a bus. We are active people and I was sure there had to be a better way!

When we got home, I researched biking trips (we are avid road cyclists) and discovered several different companies. I felt that Backroads was the right fit for us… and now we are preparing to go on our 11th trip with Backroads–this time to the Canadian Rockies. We’re hooked!

I talk to my friends and fellow cyclists about Backroads and describe why I’m so passionate about this company. Every day of a Backroads trip holds truly unique experiences; something you would have difficulty creating yourself, but that seems to happen so organically. We learned how to play petanque from the village champion (while drinking pastis!) at Crillon le Brave in Provence; were treated to wine tasting and a farm-to-table dinner at an agriturismo in Tuscany; and in New Zealand we cycled epic routes, trekked through a rain forest and kayaked to the Tasman Sea! How many people can say that?? In Italy, we were able to gain a peek into one of Siena’s Contrade and learn about the wild annual Palio horse race, and on a trip in France, I rode the same route as the famous Tour de France cyclists (OK, maybe I didn’t make it all the way up the mountain but at least I got to see cycling legends blow past me!). The locals cheered me on just as they cheered the greats–allez, allez, allez! And cycling in Mallorca, Spain, overlooking the Balearic Sea…indescribable.

Kathy in Mallorca on a Backroads biking trip

We’ve taken both Casual and Premiere Backroads trips and love them both. The lodging is always wonderful, unique and special. Many of the Premiere trips include lodging at Relais & Châteaux luxury hotels— if you’ve never stayed in one you’re in for a fabulous treat! Often times these hotels were former monasteries or other historic structures that have been beautifully converted into hotels. If you’re not up for riding, the hotels have plenty to offer for a relaxing day while others pedal their hearts out in the beautiful countryside. It’s a challenge in the morning to decide whether to ride or stay!

Cocktail hour on a Backroads trip in Mallorca, Spain

The cycling is superb, as are the bikes. We only choose to bring our own pedals and leave the rest to Backroads because their equipment is excellent. Over the past two years my knees have become problematic, so while my husband upgrades to a Specialized S-Works Roubaix, I opt for an electric-assist bike, which Backroads offers at no extra charge. I still get a great workout but am able to ride all routes with my husband (I can even beat him up long, steep hills with the e-bike!). I’m so grateful Backroads has included this option since I’ve cycled for years and hate the thought of giving up epic rides.

Backroads Trip LeadersIt’s not just about the lodging and food (which are fabulous), it’s also about the Trip Leaders. I used to work in Human Resources and I’m in awe of the caliber of Trip Leaders that Backroads hires. The leaders are unfailingly warm, enthusiastic, creative and great problem solvers! And strong!!! Wow…you’ve not seen anything until you see the leaders quickly load all the bikes on top of the van!

A great trip for me is when I feel more like a local than a tourist. With Backroads you’re not a tourist on a bus…you are now an active participant. You feel a part of the land and people because of the intimate experiences you’ve had, and you will remember them forever. I can’t wait for the Canadian Rockies!

 

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Kathy Smarinsky

Kathy Smarinsky

Guest at Backroads
Kathy resides in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where she’s the Vice President of St. John Medical Center. Her husband and traveling companion, Richard, is an anesthesiologist at St. John. An avid cyclist, Kathy also enjoys scuba diving, hiking, yoga, jewelry making and dogs—especially her Labrador, Maggie. Kathy and Richard have been traveling with Backroads for thirteen years, taking ten trips in the United States, New Zealand, France, Spain and Italy (including the Tuscany Bike Tour twice!). Not only is Kathy heading to Canada with Backroads this year, but she’s about to take up paddle boarding!
Kathy Smarinsky

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