I try to make a practice of touching base with all my clients once they’ve returned from their vacations. Once we finish talking about the accommodations and touring the topic often turns to how wonderful the food was at the destination. Usually this turns out to be one of the highlights but invariably results in them now having to deal with those “extra pounds”!
If you’re looking for a way to explore a new destination and yet be indulgent of the local cuisine without consequence consider adding a cycle tour to a portion of your trip.
Long a popular sport in Europe, road cycling has increased in popularity tenfold here in North America over the last few years. The demand to include their favourite pastime as part or all of their vacation has resulted in a wonderful selection of tours in every country of the world. You don’t have to be a serious cyclist to enjoy such a tour. There are tours for every participation level imaginable, be it sedate family tours through the South of France to "wanna-be" Tour de France athletes. First and foremost, before you choose a destination to cycle be sure to research its terrain. Be sure it’s the right fit for your level of endurance.
Secondly you need to decide what level of independence you require in order to enjoy the experience.
The Fully Guided Tour offers complete service and care. You ride with an experienced guide as well as support vehicle available for emergency repairs, medical needs and the odd lift if the terrain gets to be too much. The itinerary includes pre-arranged route, accommodations, meals and the camaraderie of a group. The invaluable insight and recommendations of your guide adds to the overall enjoyment of the local villages, their history and culture. Possible drawbacks are that you can only go as fast as the slowest rider and that your departure times are structured. These websites: www.backroads.com ; www.exodus.co.uk and http://www.butterfield.com are but three of many cycle tour operators worldwide.
Your other option is the Self Guided Tour. This is what my boyfriend and I did during our recent tour of Andalucia in Spain. Again your route and nightly accommodations are pre-arranged. Your luggage is transferred daily and is waiting for you upon your arrival. However, you have no guide and no support vehicle accompanying you. You travel at your own pace and can linger at those places which interest you most and still benefit from an itinerary organized to best highlight the region you are exploring. The only drawback that we could see was that we were reluctant to venture too far off the map because we never knew what lay ahead! This style of travel is best suited to cyclists with at least rudimentary knowledge of bike repairs and people who are comfortable travelling alone. It is an excellent option for a group of like-minded friends! The company we used in Spain was www.cyclingcountry.com . They are a wonderful company headed up by a Canadian girl and her British husband.
Cycling … a wonderful way to explore and an incredible way to indulge your love of wine and food without guilt!