Great two-wheeled breaks this summer
Will the Tour de France inspire you to ride off on a cycling holiday?
Wednesday 05 June 2013
From the city of Arusha in northern Tanzania, cycle through banana and coffee plantations into the Rift Valley and the grasslands used by the Maasai for grazing cattle. Expect about 35 miles of guided cycling per day, with the possibility of spotting zebra and giraffe, as well as time off to explore the wildlife-rich Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti National Park. The off-road cycling is mostly hilly and is graded moderately challenging. Nights are spent under the stars in simple but comfortable public campsites. Exodus (0845 863 9601; exodus.co.uk) offers the 15-day group Tanzania Cycle Safari from £2,599pp including flights from London, accommodation and most meals. Bike hire starts at US$170 (£111).
Baltics by bike
Explore the three Baltic states on one easy-graded guided pedal. From the medieval old town of the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius, travel by bike through pretty villages in Trakai Historical National Park to the Curonian Lagoon, one of the best birdwatching locations in the world. From here, cross north into Latvia to cycle alongside the sandy beaches, Soviet-era spas and Art Nouveau houses of Jurmala, before continuing north into Estonia to explore Lahemaa, the country's first, and largest, national park. Explore (0845 291 4541; explore.co.uk) offers the nine-day Cycling the Baltic States trip from £1,122pp, including flights from London, B&B accommodation, bike hire and guide. There are six scheduled departures this summer.
Flat and easy
Denmark's low-rise topography makes it ideal for a leisurely cycle, and nowhere more so than Zealand, the country's largest island. On Inntravel's (01653 617 001; inntravel.co.uk) week-long self-guided Danish Riviera trip, you can follow the coastline at your own pace, past fishing villages, seafood restaurants and white-sand beaches. Accommodation is in small, charming guesthouses and the itinerary includes biking to the region's fairy-tale castles, including the imposing Kronborg, which inspired the setting of Elsinore Castle in Hamlet. The trip costs £1,065pp including accommodation, luggage transfers, bike hire, breakfast and most dinners. Flights not included. Departures July-September.
Follow the 100th Tour de France from Provence to Paris. Marmotte Mountain (00 33 682 891 523; marmottemountain.com) has an 11-day Luxury Tour de France Cycling holiday that costs £4,600pp departing 12 July, including most meals, transport and expert cycling guides, but not travel to France or bike hire. You can cycle many of the roads the professionals do and watch the last 10 stages of the Tour.
Peloton Cycling Tours (00 61 402 325 770; pelotoncyclingtours.com) also has a nine-day trip from 14 July, which includes Alpine climbs and live viewing of stages 18-20. The price of £2,365 includes accommodation, most meals and guides, but not flights or bike hire.
"Cycling holidays are the ideal way to combine a passion with a holiday. Training beforehand will ensure that sitting on a bicycle seat day after day isn't too much of a hardship. If hiring a bike, take your own pedals and shoes. If your trip involves mountains, make sure climbing is part of your pre-trip training." – Greg Griffiths, 2012 Olympics mountain-biking judge and Marmotte Mountain cycle guide
Wine and wheels
Headwater (0845 527 7027; headwater.com) has a self-guided 10-day California Vineyards Cycling trip from £2,499pp, including B&B and bike hire but not flights. Departs April-November. The company also has a 50-night Pour de France tour, taking in seven "stages" of wine regions. It costs £7,359pp including flights from London, accommodation, bike hire and most meals. Departs 2 September.
Improve your cycling skills in the world's highest mountains, the Himalayas. From the Nepalese capital, Kathmandu, cycle through hillside Newari villages, past Buddhist temples and terraced farmlands on the way to the relaxing lakeside resort of Pokhara and the ancient kingdom of Gorkha to the north. The trip is at low altitude but expect up to 30 miles of challenging cycling each day, with nights spent in local guest houses and family-run hotels. Access Trips (001 650 492 4778; accesstrips.com) runs the 12-day Nepal Mountain Bike Tour, which departs on 20 October, costing £1,865pp with accommodation, all meals, transport and an expert guide. Bike hire from US$325 (£212); flights extra.
Charity bike rides have become an industry, with a number of commercial firms running trips to beautiful parts of the world. For example, Discover Adventure (01722 718 444; discoveradventure.com) has a nine-day Pyrenees Coast-to-Coast Cycle, covering more then 400 miles over some of the Tour de France's most famous mountain passes. The registration fee is £299, plus minimum sponsorship of £2,065 (of which 60 per cent goes to the charity).
Alternatively, you can pay £826 and then all fundraising goes to your chosen charity. Accommodation, most meals and trip support is included, flights and bike hire are not. Departs 15 June and 7 September.
And Global Adventure Challenges (01244 676 454; globaladventurechallenges.com) has an eight-day, 260-mile Death Valley Cycle in Nevada. Registration is £399, plus either a payment of £1,399 if self-funding, or a minimum sponsorship level of £3,150. Return flights, accommodation, most meals and trip support is included, bike hire is not. Departs 9 November.
Individual charities also put on dozens of sponsored rides throughout the year, including London to Brighton, London to Paris and around Ibiza.
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