A holiday on a bike is a ‘must do’ on the cycling bucket list. There are lots of ways to do it – solo or as a group, supported or self guided, with your own bike or a hired one. For instance, VeloVixen's Liz and Phil cycled over 10,000 km on a trip from the southern tip of Argentina up and over the Andes to Lima, and then from Canada to Mexico (and at the end, Phil proposed!).
My diary – and budget – restricts my travels to a few days away. But while my trips might not be quite so adventurous (or romantic, frankly!) they are always fun. For me, the best part of a cycling trip (apart from the views, the mountains, the food, the wine, the friendships, the funny stories, the mini adventures and the fact that someone else cooks dinner) is that all I have to think about for those few days is riding my bike.
Riding with a local guide doesn’t just mean you wont get lost: they’ll take you to the best cafés and fix your punctures too.
Guided Riding on Holiday
I’ve just returned from Northern Spain on a cycling trip in the mountains and vineyards of La Rioja. I took the option of joining a guided group on a trip that also included bike hire, accommodation and transfer of luggage every day from hotel to hotel. We cycled for a week on trails or almost empty roads, aided by plates of delicious pinchos, coffee stops and local wine from the very many Rioja vineyards. Tough, I know.
Those of us who wanted to speed ahead for a few kilometres could do that, while the guide stayed with the less experienced riders.
Riding with a local guide doesn’t just mean you wont get lost: they’ll take you to the best cafés and restaurants, lead you along the most scenic routes and fix your punctures too.
As a group we had a wide range of cycling ability but as most of the riding was off-road or on very quiet mountain roads (so beautiful!) those of us who wanted to speed ahead for a few kilometres could do that, while the guide stayed with the less experienced riders.
For long distance holiday riding...
Of course, joining a group of people you’ve never met before requires a willingness to ‘take the plunge’ and get to know your fellow riders pretty quickly. Thus I soon found myself having an in-depth conversation with Jo (from Adelaide) about padded shorts (for the longer rides) vs padded pants (for the shorter rides).
By the end of the holiday I had also learnt a dictionary full of Aussie lingo and had an invitation to go and ride in Australia. That’s quite a souvenir.
... and for short distance rides ...
Self Guided Cycling Holidays
As an alternative to guided rides, you can always follow a map or Garmin on a self-guided trip. Last year my girl friends and I took a four day trip to Menorca where we mountain biked around the amazing coastline. We hired bikes and arranged for our bags to be transferred from hotel to hotel, but the rest was up to us.
I don’t think my tired limbs have ever enjoyed a sauna as much!
The mix of challenging terrain, beautiful views, fabulous food and quite a lot of wine made for a great adventure and countless anecdotes.
One day we slashed a tubeless tyre on one of the remotest parts of the coastline only to find that just around the corner was the only restaurant for miles – and it was open, and they served great sea food, and the owner was a mountain biker who helped us get back on the trails again, always makes me smile. Or how about turning up at our hotel in stunning Cuitadella after hours in the saddle, to find that my room was RIGHT NEXT TO the hotel’s complimentary spa (I’m an ex-beauty editor and spa junkie!). I don’t think my tired limbs have ever enjoyed a sauna as much!
UK Cycling Holidays
Of course, you don’t have to go abroad to have an adventure. My very first cycling trip was to the Coed Y Brenin mountain bike trail centre in North Wales. We took our own bikes and stayed at a ‘MTB friendly’ B&B just a mile away.
We had so much fun riding the trails, soaking up the fabulous scenery and eating vast quantities of food at the trail centre café. A trip to the local minor injuries unit wasn’t in the original itinerary, but I ended up there anyway (knee vs rock incident, which the rock won). Luckily my fall didn’t stop me from riding - nor put me off cycling holidays - although I did invest in some body armour from the trail centre shop (any excuse to go shopping).
Don't leave without me
I can’t recommend a cycling holiday enough. And with cycling becoming more and more popular, the opportunities to travel with a bike seem to be endless - just like the adventures, the horizons and the sunsets!
Adele visited La Rioja courtesy of Exodus Travels.
Unit 28, Wheatley Business Park, Old London Road, Wheatley, Oxford OX33 1XW // firstname.lastname@example.org // +44 (0) 1302 249 323