Exodus MVZ Review

Posted: August 2nd, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: travel | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

It’s been a few days since finishing the Exodus cycling trip from Prague to Budapest, and I think I can organize my thoughts into some sort of cohesive review.

First, all the trip notes for those who are interested in more detail:

    • Photos at the bottom of this post

    The Good

    The route was extremely interesting, covering territory I definitely would never had visited on my own. There’s something extremely special about riding a bicycle up a hill and coasting as fast as possible down the other side, when you get to do that in Czech Canada National Forest it’s glorious. Crossing national boundaries by bicycle is something I’ve never done before, and it’s somehow extremely satisfying, especially crossing over the former Iron Curtain and visiting the museum setup on the Czech/Austrian border showing artifacts from that time. The contrast between our relaxed bicycle ride over the unmanned border posts and the extreme measures that were in place less than 30 years ago is haunting and gives me some measure of hope for the world.

    You really get a chance to see how real people live on this trip, visiting small towns and seeing real life up close and trying to buy lunch in places and from people who don’t generally see lots of English speaking tourists.

    The cycling itself was terrific. Challenging, seriously challenging especially during the first three days where we were going through the quite hilly part of the Czech Republic, but that challenge was a very effective training regime for the rest of the trip making it quite easy to knock off the 40 – 50km rides during the final days of the trip, in fact most of us wanted more distance during those final days where the terrain was flat and gentle. As a 30 something, somewhat out of shape and only ever really used to cycling my single speed in downtown toronto traffic it was educational and I’m pretty sure that when this big trip is done I’ll be out shopping for a proper bicycle (Jeff M. expect a call for help when the time comes).

    The bad

    I don’t really want to harp too much on the bad, but I’ll sum it up like this: we beta tested this trip for Exodus. We were the second ever group to be taken along this route, and it showed. Lots of little details weren’t quite figured out, hotels didn’t ever seem really ready for us and many of the vehicle transfer portions of the trip make sense on paper but don’t really work in real life. For example, after cycling some 40km to the town of Gyor (a nice looking town) in 35C weather, 16 sweaty and hot cyclists are piled into a minibus with barely working AC for a 2.5 hour drive to Esztergom (a not so nice looking town). I don’t know why it was planned like this, but I can’t help but think that Exodus needs a Hungarian to help plan the last few days of the trip next year.

    Most of the gripes on this trip I think can be summed up by the fact that we were beta testing this trip, but I think I have to mention that some other members of the group were seriously unhappy, but for my part I tried to take the bumps with a zen attitude… but then again I’m a person who runs a hacked operating system on his phone and generally is pretty tolerant of the bugs and am inherently sympathetic to anyone who is trying to build something new.

    Recommendation

    Despite some chaos on the planning front, I would recommend this trip to anyone considering a cycle tour that’s a bit different from the cycling through France or Spain options that are already well developed with multiple companies offering options. This tour has real potential, and I think it will get better with each year it is offered as relationships with local providers are established and strengthened, just remember that you’re travelling through central and eastern Europe, so don’t expect western Europe service and standards.