Small European villages. Quiet country roads. History, food, and wine. All discovered on your ElliptiGO. If that sounds like a dream to you, there’s no need to pinch yourself. Pete and Lynn van Nuys can make your dream European vacation come true.
Pete and Lynn are San Clemente, California, residents who offer European cycling tours through their Wandervogel Bicycle Touring Association. Their tours are small and special, featuring picturesque paths and lovely wee towns. “Big cities are for big tour companies and people who love crowds,” says Pete. “Aside from well-worn landmarks like Big Ben and the Eiffel Tower, 21st century cities feel pretty much the same: like big cities. We think you get closer to the culture of a region in the small towns and on the back roads. The sounds, the smells, crops in the fields, the shapes of the mountains … these things seep in through your senses. ‘Tiny roads, small as possible,’ is our tagline.”
In addition to seeking roads less traveled, Pete and Lynn plan their routes with ElliptiGOs in mind. Pete notes, “The distances and the terrain are always considered as if we were riding the GO.” If you book a Wandervogel tour, you can rent one of their 11 ElliptiGOs.
“As a life-long bicycle tourist I was surprised how great a touring machine ElliptiGOs make,” says Pete. “I’m standing upright and I’m 14 inches taller than on my road bike, so my view is better. Personally, I get a bigger endorphin buzz on a GO, which enhances my ride.” And, he adds, “I’m burning more calories so I can justify that second beer!”
In 2016, Walt Baldwin reluctantly joined a Wandervogel tour when his wife, Janna, couldn’t find someone to go with her—and now he’s toured with Wandervogel every year since. Among the stand-out memories he shared was watching hot air balloons rising from the valley floor, up past the town built into the side of the hills in Rocamadour, France, on Janna’s birthday. “Pete and Lynn’s years of experience leading bike tours in Europe really shines through,” he says. For instance, one year rain washed out a planned route, and Walt says that Lynn, on the fly, was able to reroute the tour through a rural area that was value-added.
In 2023, Wandervogel tours will offer a June Switzerland, Austria, and Italy 10-day ride that’s suitable for first-time ElliptiGO riders as well as experienced riders. A sampling of stops includes Zernez, the gateway to Europe’s oldest national park; the charming town of Burgeis; Glurns, an 11th century walled city; and the vibrant capital of South Tyrol, Bolzano. For bragging rights, you can take on an optional climb up Stelvio Pass, a 7,000-foot ascent up 48 switchbacks—or you can enjoy shopping, the spa, or relaxing instead.
Pete says the Switzerland, Austria, and Italy tour is a great introduction to bicycle touring. He explains, “It’s mostly downstream along two of central Europe’s iconic rivers, the Inn and the Adige. Between them is a modest climb—one that first-time tour guests will feel proud of summiting. It starts in glamorous St. Moritz, includes a layover in the spa town of Merano, and finishes in surprising Bolzano, a real market town. You’ll experience rewarding climbs, exciting downhills, cobblestone streets, glacial streams, three countries, and four languages. All on a GO! What more could you want?”
Jane LeGore agrees. Switzerland, Austria, and Italy was her first Wandervogel tour in 2016. Jane says, “One day, we had breakfast in Switzerland, lunch in Austria, and dinner in Italy! We traveled the entire distance on ElliptiGO bikes and literally rode through 3 countries in a single day.”
Though she and her roommate Anna Thatcher didn’t know Pete and Lynn nor anyone else on the tour when they booked it, Jane says, “By the end, I had become lifelong friends with many of the people on the tour!” She’s gone on two more tours since then, as has Anna.
“The trips are honestly just one amazing experience after another, day after day!” exclaims Anna. “There are so many great experiences, but I’d have to say climbing (and descending!) Stelvio Pass and Gavia Pass in Italy are among the highlights of my ElliptiGO travels and of my entire life! And just as fun and memorable are the more casual rides that make up most of the tour days—breathtaking scenery with time to stop and explore castles, cafes, markets, and towns along the way.”
“I’ve ridden in many places throughout the U.S.,” Jane shares, including an entire year riding across famous bridges and riding the Pacific Coast from San Francisco to Los Angeles. “I thought I had done a lot on my ElliptiGO. I’m rarely speechless, but the European tours are so incredibly special that it’s difficult to describe the feeling of euphoria you get from being on one. They’re also so well organized that each participant feels like a celebrity! Every detail is carefully planned: from incredible riding routes to group meals to bag transfers to wonderful hotels.”
Kurt Jaeger says the same: “You’ll meet new people, try new things, and make lifelong friends. And Lynn and Pete are phenomenal hosts.”
Anna adds, “I can’t recommend these tours enough! You get the expert route planning, itineraries, and history of the area provided by Pete and Lynn. You get to meet other ElliptiGOers with a similar love for travel. You get to explore amazing, often off-the-beaten-path regions on an ElliptiGO. Life really doesn’t get any better than that!”
For those seeking more hills and thrills, Pete is happy to work up an alternate route of additional miles and mountain passes on any tour. He’s also developing a hill-focused tour in Tuscany for riders who want a tour with plenty of ascents and descents—and who want to reward themselves with the region’s fantastic red wines after their rides. The inaugural Tuscan tour is being planned for 2024.
This year, riders can choose Italy: Climb, Ride, and Dine. One tour sold out instantly (with many repeat attendees), but there’s still space on the September tour. Pete shares, “It takes up where our Switzerland tour ends, in Bolzano, and goes further down the Adige with a detour into the Dolomites. Plenty of castles, wine varietals, and breathtaking scenery.”
Wandervogel’s point-to-point tours are very different from destination tours offered by big companies—and less expensive, too, notes Pete. “They book one or two hotels for multi-night stays and ask you to ride out and back every day. That’s easier and cheaper for them, but in my opinion, it’s not as revealing as exploring a whole region,” he points out. “Traveling through an area gives you a personal experience of the lands and people we visit. You’ll remember the sound of cowbells long after the din of car horns is forgotten.”
Wandervogel tours include multiple hotel nights at 3- and 4-star hotels, daily breakfast, several dinners, and luggage transfers between hotels. For more details and drool-worthy photos of tour destinations, visit wandervogelbicycletouring.com.