cycling

Cycling holdays, Part 2: Organized tours in which other people carry the stuff

My favorite holidays involve bicycles. But you know that.

Yesterday I posted about some of our self supported rail trail holidays.  I’d like to do more of those. Easy, inexpensive, and just 3-4 days. But I also love longer trips, especially longer trips in which we take our fast bikes and other people carry all of the stuff. Today I’m looking back fondly on some of the formal tours we’ve done. These are longer, 7-10 days, and involve a lot more riding.

The most luxurious organized tour I’ve done might just be a once in a lifetime treat. It was in Arizona, featured a terrific host, and a lovely neon green bus that accompanied us along the way. Bags were dropped off in our rooms, someone else put air in our bike tires, and gourmet lunches met us en route. We were spoiled silly.

The scenery and riding were incredible. Thanks Bike Escapades. So too were the food and accommodation. We stayed in gorgeous B and B’s and historic inns. This would actually work well as a tour for a serious cyclist and his or her not so serious spouse. Many days we split up the group at lunch sending less serious cycling spouses on ahead to the next town for sightseeing and shopping. Even if I can’t do that exact tour again without winning the lottery, I’d love to go back and ride some of those roads. Amazing cycling country.

Our one hassle was US border security since we were riding so close to Mexico. It seemed every second car was border patrol. We kept our passports in little plastic bags in the back of our bike jerseys because we were stopped a few times. We joked that as Canadians we were actually a little far from our border. If we were trying to enter the United states illegally we’d almost overshot our mark.

Much less luxurious but breathtakingly beautiful and with some terrific riding was my trip with Atlantic Canada cycling up the northwest coast of Newfoundland. That took ten days and while a bus carried all our gear we camped each night in parks and cooked all our own meals. We saw moose and caribou. And lots of mountains. And of course, some rain did fall.

Here’s what the tour company has to say about this trip:

“This tour of Newfoundland’s Great Northern Peninsula will not be an everyday bike trip. It will be an excursion of rugged landscape and occasionally challenging elements. Those who accept nature’s challenge will be richly rewarded. To some, the Newfoundland Bicycle Tour will be a challenge, a goal and the satisfaction of completing it. To others, it will be a chance to renew and strengthen friendships, or to make new ones. For a great many, it will be the chance to explore an exotic location. For everyone, it will be an opportunity to see Newfoundland as no other form of travel can. It will be perhaps the most inexpensive, not to mention fun, vacation of the island available.We have planned this trip with adventurous cyclists in mind.”

This trip attracted hardy souls. The tour owner and operator joked that it would be better to go in July but that’s when they do their PEI trip. The people who want to ride in Nfld don’t care about the weather but the people who are going to flat, sunny PEI expect fine days. So it’s Nfld in June. As we warned, the weather wasn’t perfect. This is Newfoundland after all but everyone finished the distance everyday, including a couple in their 70s riding department store hybrid bikes. They set out ahead of us every day and arrived long after but with big grins on their faces. We also had some glorious sunny days. It even went up to about 20 C and locals complained about the heat.

We rode on main highways but got an excellent welcome from local drivers. Most seemed surprised and happy to see bikes on the road.

Where next? Maybe Cuba.

11 thoughts on “Cycling holdays, Part 2: Organized tours in which other people carry the stuff

  1. I like the idea of these trips a lot. Definitely on my bucket list. I would love to do one of the European ones. I’ve heard good things about Italy and Germany. But given my spouse and his dreams, I have a feeling I’ll be seeing a lot more sailing vacations than biking vacations for the next decade or so. That’s okay with me because I love sailing too and am realistic enough to know that you can’t fit everything in all at the same time! But I love hearing about your adventures on these trips and hope you get to do the Cuba trip soon.

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  2. I’ve never done a bike trip like this – didn’t even really know about them – but would love to try one. Unfortuantely, and like Tracy, I have a spouse who would rather have lice than go on such an adventure. I may be a slow learner, and one one who has had to learn from making alot of mistakes, but I have learned the truth of the saying that when my wife is happy, my life is just a whole lot better. So I don’t see such an adventure in stock for me in the near future anyway.

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  3. This looks like so much fun and a combination of two of my favorite activities: wandering around and looking at things and exercise 🙂 I especially am intrigued by the Newfoundland tour, and I think this might be on the table for partner’s and my next vacation. We’re both very active and like to get out and do things, but cycling is not a big “thing” for either of us so I think it would be a good match (i.e., we’re both capable/fit but neither of us is a cyclist so there would be no competition…heheheh). Thanks for the great post/inspiration!

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