Terry Herron

Terry and Mary Jo Herron are regular riders who have been going on European bike tours for about 10 years—most of those with BikeTours.com. For the past couple of years, Terry has been recruiting friends, neighbors and local bike club members near his home in Hilton Head, SC, as well as in Beaufort, SC, Atlanta, and Savannah, GA.

When Terry takes a group of riders on a bike tour, he wants one thing—for the trip to be a compelling experience. We sat down with this seasoned cycling tourist to learn more about what he considers a great trip—and a treasured memory.

BikeTours.com: Why cycling and not cruising, or traveling by train or bus?
Herron: Bike touring is the most interactive, engaging way to encounter a country. It’s a life experience—like going to the Grand Canyon and rafting; one of those bucket list items. The experience of biking overseas is 10 times more fulfilling than driving from town to town and just walking around. It’s a far more stimulating, physical and interactive approach to visiting a country versus taking a bus tour or cruising. It just really sticks with you. You absorb and assimilate so much more than you would just driving or going by train or bus.

BikeTours.com: How long have you been taking cycling tours?
Herron: I probably took my first foreign trip 15 years ago. While I’ve taken all-inclusive tours with sag wagons and guides, I really prefer the style of tours available through BikeTours.com. These tours give me more flexibility and freedom.

BikeTours.com: What’s your best advice to someone going on a first tour?
Herron: BikeTours.com makes it easy for you. On their site, they have a list of the “Tours for First-Timers.” Those tours match some of my top criteria for our groups: They’re bike-friendly, generally flat, mostly on dedicated bike paths with good signage, and with reasonable distances (25-40 miles per day). They also feature amazing sights and great food along the way.

For example, on the Danube Bike Path, you simply follow the river downstream—it’s hard to get lost. You can take it easy: the ride is visually stunning and there are lots of stops along the way. You’re going for the ride—taking your time along the way is the essence, like the stops during the day—not just getting to your next destination or hotel. We typically stop for coffee or pastry mid-morning. Then we have lunch at noon, paired with a glass of wine or a good beer. Along the way, we can see castles, chalets and small towns. At the end of the day, we come together around 4 in our next overnight town and enjoy each other’s company.

The Mosel Bike Path in Germany is my favorite tour. I’ve seen all of Europe throughout my 35-year traveling career, but not like this region. Every day is breathtaking in the Mosel Wine Valley.

BikeTours.com: What do you look for when you decide on a tour for friends?
Herron: When I take a group to Europe, I want the setting to be of interest to tourists with lots of historical sights, but not overrun by them. I want it to be bike-friendly, inexpensive and easy!

We always take self-guided bike tours. The maps are great, and we work as a team to avoid wrong turns or getting lost—it’s part of the fun.

BikeTours.com: What advice would you give a cyclist who’s accustomed to logging a lot of miles and is eager to get from point A to point B?
Herron: When I talk to cycling clubs about European bike tours, I really have to address that. There are always a few people who are anxious to get a ride over with, and they can’t enjoy the ride or smell the flowers. They’re focused more on distance and speed than what’s around them.

Ask yourself why you want to take a bike tour. If anyone wants to ride something like Tour de France stages, climb mountains or average 22 miles per hour, I suggest they go by themselves and go with like-minded people. With this approach, you’ll miss the whole point of biking in Europe. It’s a social event, it’s healthy biking, some exercise, good food, history, and a cultural change. You don’t want to spend all this money and effort, then miss the history, the food, the visual appeal. These bike tours are for the friendship, history and new experiences.

BikeTours.com: Why do you like to work with BikeTours.com?
Herron: The local bike tour companies in various parts of Europe have lower prices and better values than any of the major biking companies in the U.S., and I’ve found that BikeTours.com is the best way to access a wide variety of those small European bike tour companies and their tours. They give excellent advice, maps, quality bike rentals, bike tools, emergency support…and they take the guesswork out of choosing a tour. Bike Tours Direct takes care of the entire booking and planning process, with attention to all the small details, which makes it easy on group members and on me.

Finally, their prices are generally about 30-40% less than the big U.S. tour operators for non-guided tours. We have used BikeTours.com for many years and have never had anything less than satisfaction and loads of fun.

Interview by Laura Jane Walker

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