Departures: On your bike

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The Independent Travel
JUDGING by all the new brochures out this week featuring cycling, the bike holiday business is enjoying a boom.

One of the best-known companies, Susi Madron's Cycling for Softies (061-248 8282), is offering holidays for 'Super Softies' in its 1994 programme: the chance to stay put in one place following a programme of 'gentle trips' into the local countryside. A seven-night 'Super Softies' holiday based in a family-run hotel in Cognac country costs pounds 579- pounds 612 per person including return flights from Gatwick, half- board hotel accommodation and a choice of bikes.

Anglo Dutch Sports (081- 650 2347) is the leading specialist in cycling holidays in the Netherlands: the 1994 programme also features Belgium, Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic - and the New Forest. A six-night tour of Old Dutch Towns in South Holland, for example, costs from pounds 353 per person including return ferry crossing, half- board and bike hire.

Rough Tracks (0249 817723) has a programme of off-road cycling holidays in France, including tours of the Auvergne and long weekends to Brittany and Normandy. A four-day Normandy tour costs from pounds 228 per person including return travel from Swindon or Portsmouth, half- board accommodation and a support vehicle for transporting luggage.