LEISURE CYCLING TOURS
There are many ways to enjoy travel in a foreign country. Most people think of renting cars, or taking buses or trains everywhere, but many companies offer leisure cycling tours to locations around the world. While on vacation you tend to pack on the pounds, this way ensures that you will somewhat retain your current weight on the tour due to the exercise. You’ll still be able to sample the local cuisine all you like, but work off all those calories on your bike!
Cycling tours are offered for every level of bicyclist – from the beginner who might need a “pick up ride” after a while, to the experienced cyclist who can zoom up the hills as if they were weren’t there. Most European countries are extremely bike friendly. Bikes are expected to be on the roads, drivers are familiar with them and give them a wide berth. So it’s very safe to bike in Europe. A lot of places in the United States are still getting used to cyclists on the main roads, which is why it’s always best to go on a cycling tour with like-minded people. You’ll be biking through specific areas that are used to seeing cyclists.
Leisure cycling tours are designed for all different kinds of terrain – from flat and peaceful rides through the beauties of nature to the fitness challenging of the steepest of mountains. When you’re looking for a particular tour, you’ll want to compare all the available amenities for each tour.
1) Accommodations. Are you going to be staying in hotels, or in campgrounds?
2) Are meals included? If so, which ones?
3) Will there be free refreshment stops each day?
4) If the tour passes by anything of historical interest, are riders given an opportunity to go look at any sites of interest?
5) Baggage transport. Who handles the luggage?
6) Is their a sag wagon? (This is a car or other vehicle which will come and “rescue” a tired rider or one who has had an accident of any kind.)
7) Do riders receive daily maps and cue sheets that are easy to read and follow?
8) In the evenings, is there someone around to clean your bikes, or is it up to each cyclist?
Depending on the state or country through which you’re riding, most of these amenities are offered, unless you’re on a budget tour. If you’re going budget, it’s best to be a very experienced cyclist and already know what you’re doing. Bicycling is a very popular way to see Europe. There are self-guided bike tours as well as the tours offered by companies. It’s important to check out what kind of bikes they offer to ride, however, you’ll want the best quality available.
WomanTours is a company that focuses solely on offering bike tours for women. Most of the tours offered by this company take place in the United States, but at least once a year they do offer a tour overseas. You can go on an economy cycle tour of Hawaii, cycle through the Outer Banks of North Carolina, experience the majesty of Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, and much more. Their website even has a tour blog so you can see the fun that past cyclists have had on their tours.
Some of the major bicycle manufactures have a travel and adventure arm for their customers. For example, Trek Bikes has “Trek Travel.” They offer six trip types: classic, explorer, family, family explorer, specialty and weekend tours, in destinations such as Asia-Pacific, Central America, Europe, and North America.
The “classic” tours are designed for riders of all abilities. The “explorer” trips put less of an emphasis on luxury – you’ll be camping out in national parks, for example. Family trips are designed to have activities available for people of all ages. Trek’s specialty trips include being escorted by professional cyclists – for example “Classic Climbs of France with Kevin Livingston,” or “Texas with Lance Armstrong.”
If you’re planning on taking a leisure-cycling tour, you must do your research. Find out how long the tour company has been in business, and try to contact some people who’ve been on those tours so you can find out if anyone had any bad experiences. It’s always a good idea to contact the Better Business Bureau to see if anyone has lodged any complaints against them. A leisure-cycling tour is one of the best ways to see a particular region. The more you know and the more preparations you make, the more fun you’ll have on your trip. Happy Cycling!