As this was my first organised tour I was understandably apprehensive about the experience I would receive. I’ve toured quite a lot in the past but never as part of such a large group and never through a tour operator.
However, from the very beginning with Magellan I knew it was going to be money well spent. Friendly, informative emails and prompt replies to questions set the tone for communication from the word go. It was clear that the company has no secrets about it’s routes or methods, a fact that I found inspired confidence when spending my hard earned holiday money over the Internet!
A comprehensive digital tour pack arrived a couple of weeks before departure along with an email explaining what to expect on the first day. The level of detail here is really impressive, from printable copies of multilingual accident report forms to suggested packing lists and satnav troubleshooting info. Also included is a printable itinerary and GPX files for the entire route.
One of the main attractions for me when booking was this level of freedom and self-control. As explained on their website, they don’t use the ‘drop-off’ or any other riding system during their holidays (I’m an IAM member and had always thought of the drop-off as the best available compromise for an impossible task, I’ve now seen the light!).
With Magellan you’re in full control of your own holiday. There are routes and suggested stops provided but you can get from hotel to hotel however you wish. Want to skip morning coffee and have 2hrs for lunch by the lake? Fine. Prefer to stay behind a more experienced rider or scrape your knee round every hairpin bend? No problem! The guide is always at the back of the group, ready to deal with any issues that crop up and contactable by phone at all times.
At 6:45am on the big day I arrived at the agreed meeting point close to the Channel Tunnel with high hopes. I circled the car park, eyeing up other bikes for potential tour-mates and it only took a few moments to home in on someone and break the ice. By 7 our tour guide had arrived to lead us onto the train.