I don't like to perpetuate stereotypes, but . . . .
We were up in Alp d'Huez a few years ago, at the finish of a TdF stage and had wiled away the morning with a loop down the hairpins to Bourg and back over the Col de Sarenne. On the way back across the rough road to Alp d'Huez we met Sheila Simpson heading out. It turned out she was 'leading' a CTC tour and her group were 'having a look around the village' before joining her on the Col.
The town was packed with about a million sun tanned, fit looking cyclists having a good time, plus a dozen or so, bearded old people pushing their over stuffed Nelson Longflaps through the melee looking like aliens from planet Zog. Not only did they look dazed by the commotion but had no idea how to follow Sheila's scant instructions on finding the road out to the Col de Sarenne. You could hardly see a square foot of ground in front of you, let alone the 'road passed the altiport'.
They were also startled when complete strangers (me) walked up to them and asked 'you looking for Sheila?' They're still probably trying to workout how, amongst so many cyclists, those on a CTC tour were instantly recognisable.
As any holiday is only as good as the location, the organisation and the other people, I would really do some research into all three before committing myself. I'm sure they are all very variable and getting the mix right would be crucial.
My knowledge of Sheila Simpson was slightly coloured when I heard he tell some PBP hopefuls that in her opinion, it's the padding in cycling shorts that causes the problems and is why she cuts it out of all hers. There's no denying her cycling CV, but I think you would have to be in tune with her philosophy to get the most out of one of her tours.
I've been on CTC tours to:
Cuba, Nova Scotia, Romania, Norway, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary, Czech Rep, Slovenia, a folding bike tour of Wales (making use of lots of narrow gauge railways, a mountain bike tour in Iceland and was deputy Leader on a S African tour, all thank to the CTC.
If you choose to go on a tour you'll meet a varied mix of folk, and the type of person you'll meet will be influenced by the type of tour. Certainly on the S African and Scotia tours we had two dancers from the London show cats on board, one male one female, neither had beards, except when in costume I suppose. On the SA tour we had pre-booked places on the Cape Argus, and during the Argus we got plenty of jest from toned would-be racers on high end kit, who who laughed smiled at our mudguard and rack fitted tourers until we overhauled many of them, our camper long flaps flapping in their faces as they crawled on the climbs on their overgeared overpriced kit.
If you are considering going, ring the tour leader, and quiz them on the type of folk they expect, the more arduous tours will have very different folk to the 'week in Norfolk' types. Tour leaders do vary too. As for the comments re shorts we had folk on our tours who had been cycling for years without padding in their shorts, (it is a relatively new invention for many folk) and did not seem to suffer as a result, I prefer to have it myself.
I now lead my own tours for fun, and you will almost certainly come across real ale on my tours, but we tend to drink it, and not talk about it too much.
As I said earlier, quiz the leader, you won't know if you don't try.
I'll follow up your advice about quizzing the tour leaders. I have to say I tried this for one of last year's tours, and the tour leader replied to say he didn't have any details at all yet, but would let me know when he did. As I never heard anything more, this experience unfortunately did not inspire me with confidence in the organisation of CTC tours generally.
PS I am pleased to see the attention you pay to good grammar
While not trying to make excuses, the tour leaders are for the most part volunteers, they do not as a rule get paid anything but expenses for setting up a tour as well as leading it. Many also hold down full time jobs. So some, particularly more inexperienced ones may be a bit slack. Organising a tour is a massive effort, booking flights, overseas accomodation etc (hence my own are all in the UK!).
Try a different leader - leaders tend to have their 'groupies', a particular leader will get many regulars who like that person's particular style and they do differ a lot, one of the nice things about CTC rather than more corporate affairs.
If you follow his link to extended tours you will find a CTC Iceland trip review which we were both on, no beards there, and no real ale either. You may see some sandals though, as they are very useful bits of kit to have on tour, particularly for the evenings.
My knowledge of Sheila Simpson was slightly coloured when I heard he tell some PBP hopefuls that in her opinion, it's the padding in cycling shorts that causes the problems and is why she cuts it out of all hers.
Re shorts padding: I also think it depends what you're used to. My first cycle tour was Perth to Melbourne doing 200km a day. I'd only been using padded shorts (men's - this was back in 1983 and there were no specialist women's shorts) for a few rides. I was actually pretty relieved when they were nicked from a washing line in Norseman on day 4 and I cut the legs off a pair of track suit bottoms to ride the next 3500km. So maybe Sheila has similar problems