After Team GB's cycling successes, trips on two wheels are increasing in popularity. Joanna Booth reports
Britain is now a country of budding Bradleys and vicarious Victorias. Team GB’s clutch of cycling gold medals at last year’s Olympic Games seems to have inspired us to get on our bikes, and operators have reacted by expanding their programmes of trips.
Exodus, which has reported a 30% increase in sales of its cycling holidays this year, is adding nine trips for 2014, including a ride through the Jordanian desert, mountain biking in Slovenia and a wine-focused cycling holiday in the Rioja region.
Explore has seen demand rise 25% this year, and will bring 12 new tours to its 2014 programme, including trips in Thailand, Nepal and India, plus gastronomic cycling tours in Bordeaux, Piedmont, Bavaria and Kyoto. Sales director Carl Burrow says: “We’ve noticed a steady rise in the number of people booking both ‘easy’ and ‘moderate’ graded tours, suggesting this type of active holiday is becoming more appealing to customers of all abilities, including less frequent cyclists.”
Happily for untrained thighs, not all itineraries require an Olympic level of fitness. Easy pedals to suit fair-weather free-wheelers are on offer, as well as more challenging itineraries for experienced cyclists.
Cuba is a popular cycling destination and clients can take a laid-back Latino-style approach to pedalling on Exodus’s nine-day Cuban Highlights Ride. Road transfers eat up some of the longer distances and leave plenty of time to take a catamaran ride and swim in the Caribbean, and to visit the Bay of Pigs, the town of Trinidad and Havana, as well as cycling through the countryside. The tour starts from £1,599 including flights, accommodation and vehicle support. Bike hire costs £55 and should be arranged on booking.
For the super-lazy, suggest one of Headwater’s Electric Bike holidays. When the road starts getting too steep, or legs start getting tired, riders can switch to power-assisted riding and have a rest. The operator offers the bikes on eight itineraries in Portugal, Austria, Italy and Switzerland, with supplemental costs from £50 per holiday for an electric rather than an ordinary bike.
Vietnam has carved a niche as a cycling holiday destination with intermediate-level options, but for an Asian alternative, suggest Explore’s Kyoto and Beyond by Bike. It’s a 15-day tour that showcases the ‘real’ Japan. Clients will enjoy scenic coastal cycling, journeys through the highlands around Hakusan National Park, visits to castles in the Samurai town of Gujo Hachiman, and can revive in local hot springs and refuel with local Japanese cuisine. Tours commence in May 2014 and start from £3,990 including flights and bike hire.
Designed with the weekend cyclist in mind, G Adventures’ Northern Spain by Bike was a new itinerary for 2013. The eight-day trip starts and ends in Barcelona, and includes three guided bike excursions through the Mediterranean coastline of the Pyrenees, past walled cities, through forests and down to the beaches of the Costa Brava. Train journeys eat up some of the miles and there’s time for sightseeing and swimming alongside the riding. A land-only itinerary in May starts from £749 including accommodation and bike hire.
Competitive clients could opt to take part in the Cape Argus Cycle Tour, a 68-mile road race around South Africa’s Cape Peninsula that takes place in March each year. The cut-off time is seven hours, and participants span abilities from professionals to families. Travel 2 offers a package that includes seven nights’ self-catering at Camps Bay Resort, flights, and entry into the race, from £1,089. To fly a bike out would cost around £75, and to hire a good road bike for the day would start from £50.
If off-road is more their thing, send clients to the birthplace of mountain biking. KE Adventures’ 14-day Mythical Parks of the American West bumps around the red rock trails of Arizona and Utah, passing the towers of Sedona, the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, and Arches, Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks. The tour starts from £2,345 in May, including flights, accommodation in hotels and camping, most meals, guide and support vehicle. Bike hire costs extra
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