Cycling holidays are an ideal way to explore a country. Supported, guided, and self guided bike tours are available in Europe and around the world. Bicycle touring doesn't have to be hard work. On a cycling holiday everything is organised for you. Read on to find out more.
Although I undertake solely self-supported bike tours, I have been meaning to write about cycling holidays for some time. This is a general introduction to what a cycling holiday is, and what you might expect on one.
Organised cycling holidays have been gaining in popularity year after year. Avid cyclists and novices alike, are attracted by a more active vacation than simply sitting on a beach. Whats more, there is little to no planning involved, as the logistics of a bike tour are all taken care of. This includes bike rental, luggage transfers between hotels, and route planning. That leaves plenty of time to turn the pedals, and admire the scenery.
Reasons to choose a cycling holiday
The beauty of cycling holidays, is that the ‘hard parts' of bicycle touring are taken care of. There is no need to worry about where to stay at the end of a days ride. There is no need to carry heavy panniers. The hotels are all pre-booked, and baggage is transported between each hotel. All you really need to take when cycling, is a backpack with some essentials in it.
Cycling holidays come in three basic forms. These are self-guided, guided, and supported bike tours. Each one has its advantages, depending on ability and fitness level.
Self Guided Bike Tours
Self-guided bike tours are suited to experienced cyclists. A certain amount of navigation and map reading will be required. Basic knowledge of bicycle maintenance such as fixing flats would also be helpful. In return, these tours offer the most independence and flexibility. Cyclists set their own pace, and choose where and when to stop during the route. The hotels are booked in advance, and baggage is transferred between them. A good example of this is a tour I took recently cycling from Ulm to Lake Constance in Germany.
Guided Cycling Holidays
Guided cycling tours are a great idea for those people that want to cycle in a group. It is more social, and new friends are made along the way. Group sizes will vary depending on the tour operator. A guide will accompany the group, pointing out highlights along the route. Again, the hotels are booked in advance, and baggage is transferred between them. On this type of tour, you might need to bring your own tools and other bike touring essentials.
Supported Bike Touring
Supported bicycle tours do not have a guide. They do have a support vehicle though. Sometimes, this will take the form of a SAG wagon. This will carry food, spares, gear, water, and the luggage. On some tours, it may be possible for cyclists to ride in it on stages they do not feel like cycling. As with guided cycling tours, people will find themselves part of a larger group, with the camaraderie and social aspect that it provides. Accommodation is booked in advance, and baggage is transferred between.
I bumped into the Tour D'Afrique back when I was cycling from England to South Africa. This is the ultimate example of supported bicycle touring!