Are we there yet? Discover the joys of pedal power this summer

I'm thinking of taking the kids on a mini Tour de France (or even a Tour de Italy or Spain). Yes, I've been inspired by all those fit people cycling up and down mountains, and I've decided I want to try it myself.

My little darlings aren't quite as enthusiastic – I've scuppered their plans to watch endless repeats of Friends for the summer – but I'm standing firm. Sorry, kids, but it's time to get on your bikes.

I should tell you now that I haven't actually cycled for years. But according to the people at Utracks (0845 241 7599;, which specialises in organising child-friendly bike tours, this shouldn't be a problem. When I contacted them for advice, they recommended taking a self-guided cycling tour. (You explore at your own pace and don't hold up everybody else.)

The Loire Valley Castles trip looks perfect for this: you get to bumble around chateaux and medieval towns, pedalling through lanes and forest cycle paths. Breakfast, dinner and accommodation are in a dear little auberge, and everything from helmets to maps is provided.

Headwater (01606 720199;, too, offers an enticing tour of the Heart of Provence, a seven-day trip that takes in hidden villages and vineyards. You get to stay in family hotels (they'll transfer your luggage), all of which have private pools. Its family tours are suitable for children from the age of eight, although little ones can have seats on their parents' bikes.

And if you prefer your cycling Italian style, may I suggest Puglia (because it's flat)? Essential Italy (01223 460100; offers low-cost bike hire for anyone staying at its properties, which include family apartments at the lovely Masseria Guarino, surrounded by olive groves, vineyards and ancient trulli. Bicycles are delivered to your door, and the company will happily recommend routes for all levels of energy and ability.

With any luck, the whole family will discover the joys of pedal power this summer.