Cycling vacation activities
WHAT COMPLEMENTS A CYCLING HOLIDAY
The majority of cyclists on vacation don’t just want to just conquer a col or race from one valley to the next. Most love to travel by saddle because it means they can get right off the beaten track and get in touch with the real country and its culture. Not the one laid on for tourists. A lot of cycling vacations cater for this craving for cultural exchange, staying in traditional rural accommodation such as ryokans in the mountains of Japan, small country hotels in Catalonia, a Maasai camp in Kenya, or a Vietnamese homestay. Or by visiting important cultural sites en route, such as Petra in Jordan, Anuradhapura or Sigirya in Sri Lanka or the ancient university town of Coimbra in Portugal. Or just pull up at a rural market and pack their pannier full of picnic goodies, joining local people in their lunchtime repose. That’s one of the most wonderful things about arriving into a rural spot on a bike. Hosts rarely feel threatened or ‘invaded’ by cyclists. Turn up with a coachload of camera slinging tourists, however, and it’s a different story.
Local food and drink
Cyclists like to pack their panniers full of energy bars and drinks, but it is worth remembering that buying local food is sometimes the only way that a destination can make money from tourists coming to cycle through their natural wonders. So make sure you get good tips before you head out every day. A good vacation company or guide will be a minefield of information on this.
Two for the price of one
There are more and more cycling vacations for people who want to combine it with another activity, or learn a new skill. You can combine cycling through the glorious Sapa region of Vietnam with diving of its coast. Or enjoy a safari or two as part of a cycling vacation through the extraordinary land and seascapes of Kenya and Tanzania. In Costa Rica, you have to get off your bike to take a trip through the rainforest, or take a raft to make your way down the Tenorio River. And in India, you can make your cycling trip a Fairtrade one, visiting many of the sustainable artisans and food producers along the way, learning about their work and the impact that Fairtrade has had on them.
Up your game
It’s never too late to push your boundaries on a bike. You might have tackled the South Downs of a Sunday, a coastal route on vacation, but now be vying beyond the ‘voie vertes’. Cycle coast-to-coast in Costa Rica or southern India, or up your game into the mountains of Nepal, Morocco or Chile.