Most people spend their vacations on their backs, sunning on a beach or around a pool. Or riding in a car or train. But if you're looking for a vacation that lets you tour some of the most beautiful scenery and best food in the world while challenging yourself to days of serious, high tempo exercise few activities beat a hosted cycling tour.
Yes, you can do this on your own. A great option to consider however is to work with a specialized bike tour company. It costs more - often much more - but the comfort of having the end-to-end support of a team to handle your accommodations, route planning, experienced guides, state-of-the-art bikes, food and on-the-road support makes this a serious idea to consider.
Organized bike tours offer turnkey services to make the trip easy. The high-end tours provide top of the line carbon fiber and titanium bikes (so you won't need to worry about shipping yours), transportation during the trip, luggage transfer, accommodations, massages at the end of the day, wine tastings, pro rider meet-and-greets and more. If you ever wanted to spend a week riding the super-expensive bike of your dreams in locations like the French Alps, the back roads of Tuscany, the Canadian Rockies or the Big Island of Hawaii, an organized bike tour is hard to beat.
The top-level bike tour operators include experienced guides who ride with you, who know the routes and speak the local languages, are willing to adjust the route to your level, and help improve your riding skills. You also receive van support along the route for anything from a fresh bottle refill, snacks and food, tire changes and bike repairs, and if needed, first aid.
Bike tours vary according to your goals, budget and riding skills. Some tours are family-oriented, with the terrain and pace designed to fit riders of all ages, shape and experience. Other tours are more focused on the in-shape rider willing and able to handle the challenges of tracing the often rugged and mountainous routes of Le Tour de France and other classic races.
On the upper end are tours specialized to hard core riders and racers, including pro camps and race tours. These aggressive tours provide coaching for experienced riders and budding racers seeking to challenge legendary mountain passes such as the Col du Tourmalet high in the Pyrenees, the Passo di Gavia in the Dolomites, Independence Pass in Colorado, and the famous l’Alpe d’Huez in France. In addition, some bike tour companies will work with you to package a custom tour to plan the adventure of your dreams.
Some reputable sources of bike tours include:
Backroads, one of the largest cycling and walking tour companies, offers a variety of bike tours and locations for family and enthusiast riders: https://www.backroads.com/bike-tours
Canonndale Bike Tours are hosted by this world-class bike manufacturer and are focused more on the serious enthusiast to hard-core racer: http://www.cannondaletours.com/
Trek Tours, by the famous Tour de France-winning bike manufacturer, offers tours for families, enthusiasts all the way to racers seeking big-time challenges: http://www.trektravel.com/
Undiscovered Country Bike Tours specialize in organized tours within California, including the wine country and Pacific coastline, and provide Scott carbon fiber bikes: http://www.udctours.com/
You can also find a variety of tours from different operators across the US, Europe and around the world at these sites:
Bike Tour Directory: http://www.bicycletour.com/
BicyclingWorld.com Tour Directory: http://www.bicyclingworld.com
If you ever dreamed of a vacation touring Italy by bike, sipping amazing wine and enjoying fresh pasta, or challenging your inner Eddy Merckx on some of the most fabled roads and passes of the great pro classics, all without having to worry about the details, an organized bike tour is worth considering. Bike tours are anything but passive. But few vacations offer the combination of beauty, challenging exercise and lasting memories like this.
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