19 Frequently Asked Questions About Ride for Refugees 2016

1) Who runs the tour and why is the tour cost so affordable? 

The tour is operated by FaithQuest (www.faithquestmissions.org), in partnership with VisionQuest, a Spanish NGO.  Together, the two organizations have more than 25 years experience organizing cause oriented athletic challenge events around the world.  Tour leadership and staff all work on the tour as volunteers so the cost of time spent organizing and managing the trip is not passed on to participants, keeping the cost of the trip affordable, and the quality of the accommodations high.  By comparison, cycling tours in Europe similar to Ride for Refugees 2016 are, on average, at least double the cost. 

2) What does my registration fee pay for?  

Roughly 60% of the registration fee goes to cover direct costs of your trip (lodging, internal transport, cycling uniform, backup, trip video, etc.).  The remainder is donated to organizations working directly to support refugees around the world.  The registration fee does NOT cover international travel to and from Greece at the beginning and end of the trip, lunches and dinners, gratuities, bicycle rental (if required), spare parts, souvenirs, trip insurance, etc.  (See more detail on this in questions 8 and 9).

3) Can I seek sponsorship for the registration fee and specific institutional projects? 

We encourage all participants to seek sponsorship for the trip registration fee as a portion of the fee goes to support refugees around the world.  We also provide the opportunity for everyone to seek sponsorship for work that benefits refugees directly (beyond amount of the registration fee) by listing good projects with refugees to which sponsorship can be donated directly.  See our donate page: http://www.visionquestride.org/vendors/.  If sponsors wish to donate to the trip general fund on behalf of refugees, a button is also available to do so.  Some riders may wish to come as official riders on behalf of selected institutions and/or projects.  This is also encouraged and supported and donations above and beyond each of the rider(s) registration fees can be channeled through the institutional project donate buttons listed.  

4) If I am not a cyclist, is this a trip for me? 

YES!  This is a trip for you. Non-cyclists are just as important as cyclists to us and we are well set up to take a number of non-cyclists riding in support vehicles and/or doing alternative activities. Both cyclists and non-cyclists will share the same hotels in the evenings, eat dinners and most breakfasts together, take part in joint activities off the bicycle, and can share free days and many tourist stops along the way.  This is not a “roughing it” trip.  All accommodations are comfortable and high class.  You can make this trip as active or as relaxing as you like.  We will cater to both groups.  The trip is intended for both men and women aged sixteen years of age and up.

5) What kind of reception should I expect in Greece?

Greece caters to international tourism and many Greeks speak English. It is beautiful, loaded with historic places, and still relatively affordable.  Streets are safe, and the local police are always interested to safeguard visitors. 

6) How do I pay the registration fee, and what are the penalties if I have to cancel?  

You may pay directly via the Ride for Refugees 2016 website at: http://www.visionquestride.org/registration/.  Please note that registration payment once made is 100% non refundable.  We strongly urge all participants to consider acquiring travel insurance that includes trip cancellation coverage, which reimburses you in the unlikely event you may have to forego going on the trip.

7) How can I get cash in Greece? 

ATM machines are widely available within Greece.  Bring your debit and/or credit cards to use in the ATM machines to get Euros.  Call your bank before you come informing them that you will be traveling in Greece and ask them to make sure your cards work in Greece.  Remember your ATM pin code, as this will be required to withdraw cash from ATMs.  This is the best way to obtain local currency you may need for “extras.”  Bringing cash for exchange in Greece to Euros is NOT advised.    

8) What does my trip payment cover? 

The payment covers your cycling uniform, all hotels in at best double occupancy rooms (some rooms may be triples or quadruples), all breakfasts, and all scheduled internal tour travel once you arrive at the Mytilene airport on September 29 through breakfast in Athens on October 9.  Your payment also helps covers the cost of a complementary tour video and trip leadership and support staff including drivers and a full-time bike mechanic on the trip. 

9) What does my payment NOT cover?

The payment does not cover any international or domestic flights (you need to book these on your own), travel insurance, airport departure taxes, visas, optional sightseeing excursions not on the itinerary, excess baggage charges, gratuities, lunches and dinners, drinks during the day, spare bicycle parts, spare bicycles, or any other personal expense. 

10) What should I pack for the trip? 

Several weeks prior to the trip, we will be sending all registered participants a recommended packing list.  In general, weather in late September and October in Greece is pleasant with a daily high around 70 degrees Fahrenheit and a low around 60 degrees Fahrenheit.  The water temperature is 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

11) Will I learn a lot on this trip? 

YES, YES, YES.  Tour leadership is very experienced.  Several leaders and staff will speak both English and Greek and will have a deep understanding of Greek culture and history.  They will share their experience and understanding regularly.    

12) When and how should I fly in and out? 

You should arrive in Mytilene (MJT) on the island of Lesvos by the afternoon of September 29 at the latest, though, to mitigate the effects of jet lag, you may wish to fly in a day earlier and stay at a local hotel at your own expense.  The trip ends in Athens after breakfast on October 9.  You should plan to return home from Athens.  We can advise re affordable travel/flight alternatives from and to your place of origin.  You may choose to fly into Greece early prior to the start of the trip or remain in Greece after the official end of trip.  You are responsible for your own travel and lodging arrangements before and after the trip.  We are happy to assist with ideas.   

13) What is the cycling route like? 

Please consult the itinerary page on this website for a full description of the route.  The trip is easy to moderate in difficulty with relatively short daily routes but significant climbing.   We will provide you with a full detailed set of digital daily route maps prior to the trip and there will be daily route briefings on the trip.  We have already tracked each day’s route on Strava – and the daily routes will be available in GPS format.   The Strava routes are on the itinerary page of this website.    

14) What are accommodations like?

Prior to the trip we will be sending all registered participants full details on all accommodations.  These have already been reserved and are of high quality.  There will be several nights on or close to a beach. Each stop has been chosen carefully to provide a good environment in an interesting context.  You will enjoy the diversity of accommodation.     

15) What if I like the idea of cycling, but I am not really sure that I can do the route?

Don’t worry.  A backup vehicle will be nearby to drive you part of the way if necessary.  This is not a race.  You can feel free to take cycling days off and join the non-cyclists when you want.  Normally, we will divide into several groups of cyclists each day – faster groups that likes to ride with pace, and a slower group that wishes to ride at a more leisurely speed.  Normally, these groups tend to split into smaller groups.  We recommend riding at all times with at least one other rider.  One backup vehicle will serve the faster riders, and another backup vehicle will serve slower riders.  You should be able to do the trip with some moderate training in order to complete the trip at a moderate pace.  Our goal is to ensure you have a pleasant overall experience as you ride.  What usually happens is that soon enough into the trip you discover a group of cyclists who like to ride at relatively the same speed as you do.  One of the joys of these trips is the bonding experience that comes from riding with others on the bicycle – sharing laughs, sharing stories, sharing adventure. 

16) What sort of bike should I bring?  What about spare parts? 

Bring a road bike, with at least 10 gears.  25mm width tires or larger are recommended, though you can probably get by with 23mm tires.  The roads are all paved, though very occasionally get a little rough and there will be the occasional pothole.  Overall, though, there will be good quality roads suitable for road biking.  A mountain bike will definitely slow you down, and is not optimal for this route.  Bring your own spare parts – tubes, tires, spokes, etc.  We will have a full time mechanic on the trip who is skilled at handling minor repairs and some major ones.  We will have full sets of bike tools and pumps.  There are a lot of very good bike stores in Greece.   You will be responsible for any repairs our mechanic is unable to fix and any extra parts required.  Backup vehicles come with racks to transport bikes.

17) What if I don’t own a road bicycle or will have difficulty bringing my own bicycle? 

Please let us know and we will do our best to find you a rental bicycle, though these will be in limited supply.  Rental fee will be 260 Euros per bicycle.  The rental fee also covers support for minor repairs and adjustments on the trip.  Any major repairs and spare parts will be your responsibility.  You will be responsible for returning the bicycle in the same condition you received it.  You are fully liable for any loss or damage. 

18) How will we travel between islands? 

The cost of the tour includes three ferry transfers: Lesvos-Chios, Chios-Samos, and Samos-Athens.  The ferries are very large and safe.  The first two transfers take about 2.5 hours and the last transfer, Samos-Athens, is overnight (about 8.5 hours) and includes overnight accommodation in a four-bunk room. 

19) Where can I go for more information on the tour? 

This website will be updated regularly with more information.  If you wish to talk directly to the organizers, feel free to contact John Gash: john@faithquestmissions.org and/or Peter Clark: peterdclark007@yahoo.com



Peter Clark