How to Arrive Ready-to-Roll for your overseas bike tour

While we want you to arrive at the start of your Stephanie Ventures bicycle tour with unbridled enthusiasm, it’s equally important that you bring along bike handling skills and fitness to ensure you thoroughly enjoy your cycling holiday and return home ready to join us on another one!   

All Stephanie Ventures tours are rated according to distance, elevation changes, and climate in the regions we visit. Most of our tours are rated Level 1 or 2, appropriate for novice, intermediate or advanced cyclists as long as they come prepared.

Remember that you will have the option to ride almost every day on our tours, so if you can progress to the point where you can comfortably ride four times per week for 25 – 35 miles per ride, you should arrive prepared to enjoy our daily rides on tour.

Cyclists who join us will get the most out of their bike tour if they also have these necessary bike handling skills:

  • Shifting gears – knowing when and how  
  • Maintaining safe distance – between themselves and other riders
  • Controlling speed – accelerating, slowing, turning, stopping as necessary
  • Riding comfortably – at 12 mph pace
  • Use of directional hand signals – key to avoiding accidents and injuries

We review these and other safety measures during our welcome briefing.

If you do not live in a climate that facilitates outdoor riding in the winter, chose indoor cardio activities that allow you to build or maintain year-round fitness, so that when spring arrives, you’ll already have some basic fitness to build on. Be sure to discuss any new exercise routine or activity with your doctor, especially if you have underlying health conditions. Cross—training is a smart way to avoid overuse injuries and round out your fitness.

Working out on a stationary bike, treadmill or an elliptical, even swimming at your local gym can help you get fit before you start riding outdoors.

If your gym offers classes or there is a studio in town, yoga is an excellent practice that stretches cycling muscles, builds core strength, improves balance, flexibility, and mental focus. If yoga isn’t your jam, consider lifting weights a couple of days each week with a trainer who can demonstrate proper technique.

Start your outdoor training at least twelve weeks before the start of your tour.

That way, you can slowly build endurance for longer rides and develop strength to tackle the gentle rolling hills on our tours.

We do stop frequently to stretch, admire the view, visit an interesting site, or refuel with a pastry, coffee, glass of wine…or beer…it’s your vacation after all!

Do you ride alone or with a group of people? If you ride alone, we encourage you to work group rides into your schedule. You can meet likeminded folks by joining a local cycling club or searching for a cycling group on Facebook or MeetUp. Some groups cater to advanced riders, but most welcome novices and intermediate level riders, and offer a wide range of rides categorized by level of difficulty. When you participate in organized rides you learn to anticipate the actions of the rider(s) in front of you, be mindful of those riding behind you, and become skilled at safe riding techniques. It’s likely that you will soon get into the habit of using hand signals and verbal commands when you are slowing, stopping, or turning.

Bicycle clubs often host meetings with guest speakers who deliver talks on relevant topics like bike fitting, bike advocacy, fitness, and bike safety. Clubs usually post their calendars online with ride descriptions that include length and elevation gains to help you choose ones that are right for you. If you progress from rides rated F (flat), to E (easy) to D (some gentle rolling hills and occasional steeper grades), those will prepare you for the rides on our tours. Another phrase to look for in a ride description is “no drop” which means someone is designated the “sweep”. They ride at the back of the group to ensure no rider gets left behind. We usually have no problem getting a volunteer to sweep our tour rides, especially when there’s a free beer waiting at the end of the day!

Keep in mind that on tour we ride sturdy “touring” bikes with tires and gearing that are appropriate for the varied terrain we travel on. Sometimes we’re on paved dedicated bike paths, at other times we travel on bike lanes where we share the road. We love our ancient cobblestones in these parts, so short stretches are often part of the authentic tour experience. On occasion, we even go off road on unpaved paths so we can enjoy a short scenic ride through a quiet forest. At an average weight of 35 lbs., the bikes you’ll ride on tour are likely to be heavier than your road bike at home. However, we think they’re the best option. After all, most Europeans ride these types of bikes whether they are heading down the street for groceries or cruising through the countryside on a weekend getaway. You have the option to upgrade to an electric bike (for a fee) before you leave home, but remember they are heavier than the touring bikes so if you choose this option, get some experience with an e-bike at home before attempting to ride one on tour. Check with your local bike shop to rent one for a day or longer.

The key to getting ready to fully enjoy your tour is to start preparing at home, slow and easy and adding more time and distance “in the saddle” as your tour date nears.

We look forward to welcoming you on one of our tours soon.

Until then, keep on pedaling!

You can’t miss our Lake Constance Hub & Spoke Bike Tour when this much fun awaits!

Join our small group for a fascinating journey by bike (and occasional boat) around Lake Constance (or as the locals call it, Bodensee). Check in on June 24, 2023, for a 7-night stay in our HUB, a welcoming, modern (air-conditioned!) four-star hotel conveniently located in the historic city of Konstanz, Germany. Become fast friends with your new travel companions as you cycle together each day in a new direction along our SPOKES – through the idyllic landscape where Germany, Switzerland and Austria meet.

Here are 10 terrific reasons you ought to join us in June

(SPOILER ALERT: We think there are WAY more than 10 reasons!)

  1. Relaxing rides to magnificent medieval towns with beautifully preserved squares, half-timbered house and brightly painted facades
  2. Rheinfall: Europe’s largest waterfall that delivers a photo opp at every turn
  3. Scenic sightseeing cruises, long and short: across lovely Lake Constance and along the mighty Rhine
  4. Wine tastings, cider tastings. beer tastings & more: cycle past vineyards and orchards to savor the region’s best
  5. Prehistoric Pile Dwelling Museum: ok, this may sound strange, but we promise you’ll enjoy discovering an ancient world brought back to life at this UNESCO World Heritage site and Germany’s oldest open-air archeological museum.
  6. Mainau Flower Island: stroll past splendid Baroque palaces amidst glorious colors and floral beauty
  7. Tour of the Zeppelin Museum: birthplace of airship aviation featuring a full-scale model of the gondola of the Hindenburg
  8. Cable Car ride: head up, up, up Pfänder Mountain for panoramic views of the lake and the northern Alps
  9. Affenburg Sanctuary: Enjoy an entertaining walk in the free-range home of 200 Barbary apes and 100 storks
  10. UNESCO site Reichenau Island: cycle through a landscape that bears witness to the religious and cultural role of a large Benedictine monastery in the Middle Ages. Gaze in awe at fine examples of monastic architecture: well-preserved churches and carefully restored wall paintings showcasing the island as an artistic center of great importance in European art history

ONLY A FEW SPACES OPEN on this exciting tour, so please contact us soon to register.

View our full itinerary and pricing on the tour page: Lake Constance Hub & Spoke Tour Itinerary

Greetings from the Netherlands!

Tour Director Stephanie here, sending you this greeting from the Netherlands where I landed on Monday. Yes, I am a little early for our Tulip Trails of Holland Bike (or Walk) and Barge Tour but I’m here to call the Netherlands home for a while. We will be ready to sail in just a few weeks but there’s still time to book yourself a cabin and join me on April 2!

I want to share my recent travel experience with you as I’m sure you’re wondering what it’s like to fly to Europe these days. I ran a safe tour in the Netherlands in September and couldn’t wait to return for my Tulip Trails of Holland tour in April. The entry requirements vary by country but I am happy to report that many of the Covid-19 restrictions in the Netherlands have been lifted. The museums, cultural sites, and restaurants are all open. Masks are still required in certain places (public transportation and indoor shops) but I think that’s a minor inconvenience for the opportunity to experience all the wonders this country has to offer – especially during TULIP SEASON!

Some important details about my journey… I flew with United Airlines and was truly impressed with their Travel Ready Center. It’s a portal that allows you to link your travel documents (passport scan, vaccination record, and Netherlands entry forms) to your itinerary so you don’t have to waste energy wondering if you have every document you need to travel hassle-free. I received reminders of what to provide as my departure day approached. I was able to schedule my Covid-19 test locally with a participating test site. On test day, my results were sent to me and to United so when I arrived at the airport the next day to check in, all I did was drop off my bags and head to security where I only had to show my boarding pass and passport because everything else was “on file.” The arrival in Amsterdam was equally easy, I showed my passport and my CDC vaccination card, grabbed my luggage and was on my way!

If you are fully vaxxed and boosted, and you can’t wait to start traveling again, don’t wait any longer! 

We only have a few cabins available at these special prices below! We have a beautiful itinerary for cyclists and for the first time, we are welcoming walking guests aboard with a special escorted experience for them, too!  

The Netherlands is open and ready to welcome you, AND I AM TOO! 


View our complete itinerary at this link: TULIP TRAILS OF HOLLAND – Itinerary

Ready to bike and barge your way around Europe? Check out our new itineraries for 2022!

We’re excited to announce three new tours for 2022! We are proud of our loyal following and want our guests to keep coming back to explore more of the bike paths, waterways, and hidden gems of Europe. If this is your first tour with us or your fifth, we are sure it will be memorable!

Visit our Youtube channel for a glimpse of the Stephanie Ventures bike & barge experience and follow us on Facebook @ Stephanie Ventures LLC

Contact us at for pricing, to schedule an introductory phone/Zoom call, or to book your European bike & barge getaway! Have a group you’d like to travel with? Inquire about special group rates and a private online or in-person presentation to your group.

~~~~~ 2022 BIKE & BARGE TOURS ~~~~~

Tulip Trails of Holland ~ April 2-9, 2022, roundtrip from Amsterdam

Click here to view: Tulip Trails of Holland ITINERARY

Panoramas in Provence ~ June 4-11, 2022, Avignon – Aigues-Mortes, France

Panoramas in Provence ~ June 11-18, 2022, Aigues-Mortes – Avignon, France

Click here to view Panoramas in Provence ITINERARY

Beautiful Burgundy ~ August 23-30, 2022, Moret-sur-Loing – Auxerre, France

Click here to view Beautiful Burgundy ITINERARY

Magical Mosel Valley ~ Bike & Barge Tour ITINERARY SPOTLIGHT: Cochem

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We can’t think of a more charming town to begin our 2019 Meander Through the Magical Mosel Valley bike & barge adventure than in Cochem! We encourage guests to arrive in town the day before the barge tour begins to allow for some extra exploring time on your own. Here’s the scoop on our first stop on the tour that begins on August 17, 2019.

Cochem is nestled beneath the splendid Reichsburg Castle. Built in the 12th century, trashed in the 14th century, and rebuilt in the romantic neo-Gothic style in the 19th century; the castle is open daily for tours of its impressive collections of period furniture and art. It’s situated on a 300 ft high crag above the Mosel River, and a 15 min walk up a cobblestone path will also reward you with a panoramic view of hillside vineyards and the town below. Consider a splurge for the Knight’s Dinner, a traditional medieval dining experience, on Friday evening.

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During the Cold War, the Federal Republic of Germany set up secret currency reserves around the country to guard against inflation that would have resulted if war broke out between NATO and the Warsaw Pact States.

One such hiding place was the Bundesbank Bunker, a subterranean vault in Cochem. For over two decades, the citizens of Cochem had no idea there were 15 billion Deutschmarks “in their own backyard!” Of course, as a bunker, it needed to be cleverly disguised, but, fear not, we know where it is, and can tell you exactly how to find it if you’d like to explore it on your own. 

Mustard Mill

In a country where pretzels are practically a national treasure, mustard is a most revered condiment. You’ll learn everything you ever wanted to know about it at the Historische Senfmühle, Cochem’s mustard mill, where they’ve been churning out Cochem’s favorites since 1810. Free tastings are available daily, mustards of every kind await your discriminating palate. Time your visit right and, for 2.50 Euros, you can join a guided tour and watch the miller in action as he prepares mustard according to a 200 year old family recipe.

If you arrive prior to August 17 by train, you can easily hop into a taxi for a short ride to your hotel. If you arrive on Saturday, August 17, of course you may go directly to the barge. Check-in time is 3 PM but you’re welcome to drop off your luggage before you head out to wander the medieval alleyways of the old town. Don’t worry, when you sign up for your tour, we’ll tell you exactly how to find the Quo Vadis, from Frankfurt airport, to the train, and to the dock. We can even assist with train tickets if you’d like.

Click here for a peek at our full itinerary: 2019 Meander Thru the Magical Mosel Valley

Contact us at to inquire about a booking before this tour sells out.

Shopping for food souvenirs with purpose

Dallmayr tin soft edge.jpgI’ve had a lifelong fascination with food so naturally when I travel overseas, eating like a local is a high priority. I love getting lost in street markets, chatting up cheese mongers and butchers, grabbing a quick bite in a museum café. I even find foreign vending machines intriguing. I never go hungry when I travel. I’m a fool for food souvenirs, too. Local delicacies are ideal, especially in decorative packaging. Form meets function, so to speak. Not only do I come home with treats to enjoy or share, I can get creative and repurpose the empty containers. Who needs matching kitchen canisters when you can enlist unique souvenir tins to store stuff in and provide pleasant reminders of your travels?

Some of my most productive food souvenir hauls have been in the grand department stores in Europe. In the early 90’s I worked in The Cellar at Macy’s in Herald Square, near the end of its glorious reign as the showplace of gourmet specialty foods, so I have a place in my heart for department stores. There are many cities in Europe whose flagships are deserving of your sightseeing time. My kitchen counter hosts decorative tins that once held English tea, Scottish shortbread (from Jenner’s in Edinburgh), and more. During my first trip to Germany, I have to confess that I got a little caught up in Christmas market fever and, along with 85 stunning ornaments, I also dragged home a globe-shaped tin filled with Lebkuchen from Nuremberg and a coffee tin from Munich’s Dallmayr, depicting the 300 year old institution that touts itself as the delicatessen of kings. I also framed some beautifully illustrated chocolate bar wrappers I picked up there. They hang next to the beer coasters I “picked up” on a beer crawl in Heidelberg.

Don’t discount food halls if you are in the mood for a memorable meal. I once gathered the fixings for a Thanksgiving dinner for two after a quick zip through Harrods in London. If you find yourself in Berlin, go to Ka-De-We and proceed directly to the Gourmet floor. Sit yourself down at one of its many dining counters. You’ll get a bonus cooking lesson as lunch is prepared before your eyes and, you can engage with your fellow diners who will likely be an interesting mix of local working stiffs, little old ladies, and travelers. Chances are pretty good that they will all speak enough English so you won’t have to consult any pesky foreign phrasebooks. I can still see and smell the Gruyere bubbling on the Black Forest Ham that was so skillfully draped over my Rösti plate…mmm.

globe tinJust one final word of advice, perishable food is a no-go with US Customs so, enjoy all the fresh meats, cheese, and produce you can at their sources, but make sure your food souvenirs are vacuum packed and labelled for export. I wouldn’t want you to have to surrender your goodies to an agent whose canine just sniffed you out at the baggage carousel.