Cycling vacation types


They come in all sorts of shapes and sizes

In order to get your head around whether embarking on a cycling vacation is actually just like riding a bike, we have devised various categories of cycling vacations, so that you can work out which one suits you best. Or, indeed, how much to work out before you go. The good news is that there is a wealth of exhilarating escapes for people who aren’t Lycra addicts but just love the childlike freedom of cycling into another world, another culture, and finding spots they wouldn’t otherwise be able to access by car or tour bus. And if you want to push those thighs a bit more and dare to don the Lycra after all, the world is falling down with mountain trails, coastal routes and all-round beautiful byways.
Introductory cycling
Don’t be put off by the ‘introductory’ word; it doesn’t mean you have to be a newbie. A better term might be ‘saunter in a saddle’ vacation, where lunch can be long, and Lycra isn’t the law. You will still be covering 25-40km a day, just mostly on flat roads through the likes of medieval Catalonian villages, Vietnamese paddy fields or boardwalks that stretch from beach to beach along the Portuguese coast.

Moderate cycling
Fed up with the gym bike or spinning class, and craving the real thing in the outdoors? Then this level is probably for you. You will need a reasonable level of fitness, covering 35-50km a day, with a few challenges thrown in along the way. Such as taking on an extra island on the Dalmatian coast of Croatia, or pushing yourself up Jordan’s Mount Nebo in order to enjoy a descent to the Dead Sea afterwards.
Challenging cycling
You are on your bike most weekends, you aren’t shy of a long distance excursion, and you are used to having the lightest luggage in the world, because it’s all Lycra. And you will need it on these trips, which cover 65-120km a day through stunning landscapes such as the gorges and foothills of Morocco’s Atlas Mountains or cloud forests of Costa Rica.

Small group cycling
By joining a group of like-minded cyclists, it takes the pressure off the organisation front. All you have to do is cycle and the rest is all laid on for you. Small group cycling tours cater not only for people who are happier cycling in numbers, but those who really want a shortcut to the cultural and natural highlights of a cycling destination. And cycling tour companies are experts at knowing all the best local secrets too.
Charity cycle rides
Charity cycles give an incentive to take on a personal challenge while also contributing to charity. They can raise money for a local charity, such as to provide drinking water in the backwaters of Kerala which, although they are immersed in water, none of it is potable.

Self guided cycling
Many cycling vacations are for groups, however, if you prefer to cycle independently, and at your own pace, there are superb options out there. An organised self guided cycling vacation takes all the work out of it for you, providing maps, copious notes, accommodation, luggage transfers and food. And of course, bikes. So all you have to do is cycle. Take on the Montenegro mountains or the Danube, Sweden or Sri Lanka, for independent cycling in style.
The big adventure
If Top Gear ever converted their petrol heads into carbon-friendly charming cyclists, then these would be the trips they would take on. It takes a good responsible traveler, and fit cyclist, however, to take on the likes of the Argentinian Lake District, or zoom from Bangkok to Saigon. The Tour de France ‘Cols’ are of course iconic, and Costa Rica’s Coast to Coast Trail a total tonic.

Mountain biking
Also referred to as MTB, or all terrain bikes (ATB), mountain bikes are specially adapted to cope with off-road trails and rough terrain. They require endurance and usually experience, although some are aimed at beginners too. MTBers can explore the likes of mountain paths and abandoned railway lines in Montenegro, hilltop villages and olive groves in Jordan, or the Costa Vincente National Park in Portugal. They can be challenging, but check out our ‘hard core’ trips for even more so.
Hard core mountain biking
Experience in MTB, no fear of grunts or grinders and a love of mud and dust are prerequisites for these trips. But the payoffs are huge, with adrenalin filled biking into wild places, often on single tracks, such as Nepal’s Annapurna Circuit or through the Sakti and Nubra valleys of Ladakh. Distances vary depending on topography, between 50-100km per day.
Photo credits: [Top box: Zach Dischner] [Introductory & moderate: Cathy Mack] [Hardcore mountain biking: TRAILSOURCE.COM]
Written by Catherine Mack
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Photo credits: [Page banner: eGuide Travel]
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