Top four cycling holidays
Are you part of an increasing trend of holiday makers opting for an ‘active’ holiday over a ‘lounging’ holiday?
If your chosen activity is cycling, there are plenty of destinations around the world to choose from.
Here are our top picks for cycling holidays with some tips on how to prepare.
France’s green ways
If you like the idea of a cycling holiday but worry about the roads, France’s ‘voies vertes’ might be the answer.
Translated as 'green ways', voies vertes are asphalt-covered tracks which run for hundreds of kilometres across France's lush countryside, following picturesque canals and old railway routes.
There are no cars to battle with and the tracks lead through country towns, so finding a relaxing restaurant for lunch or a comfy pension for the night should be a cinch.
- Get to the gym for some cross training to build strength.
- If you intend to go off-path, make sure you have the right bike for the job.
Bupa Challenge Tour, Australia
If you want to step in the shoes of cycling legends, the Bupa Challenge Tour
in South Australia might be the ride for you.
Part of the Santos Tour Down Under world cycling event, the Bupa Challenge Tour gives recreational cyclists the opportunity to experience Stage 4 of the event just hours before the professionals.
Depending on your ability (or keenness) the ride is suitable for beginners, amateurs or experts because you can choose your distance from four routes, ranging from 36km to 142.4km.
Cyclists who brave the longest option will take on the well-known Norton Summit Climb before making their way to the coastal town of Victor Harbor.
It’s the closest you’ll come to feeling like a cycling pro. Expect fans of all ages to cheer you on as you approach the finish line with a stunning beach backdrop.
- This ride takes place during an often hot January in Australia, so make sure you stay well hydrated.
- For the same reason, be prepared by slapping on plenty of SPF30+ sunscreen before the race.
Camino de Santiago, Spain
For some, it’s a hard core ride through Spanish countryside; for others, a deeply spiritual journey of self-discovery. But, for whatever reason people choose to cycle the Camino de Santiago, it has become one of the world’s most renowned trails.
One of the most popular routes is the 800km Camino Frances which threads its way from the French border through the historic cities of Pamplona and León. But you can break up the route or do shorter trips.
The finishing point is the spectacular baroque cathedral of Santiago de Compostela where St James the Great (one of Christ’s apostles) is reputed to be buried.
- If you’re not a serious cyclist, prepare by doing back-to-back rides of increasing distance.
- Cycle with your gear to get used to the load.
- Since the trail can be rough in parts, opt for a hybrid or mountain bike over a road bike for this holiday.
Heli-biking, New Zealand
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Offered in various parts of New Zealand, heli-biking is a great option for cycling adrenalin junkies or those who prefer cruising down hills to struggling up them.
This latest craze involves your bike being strapped to the sides of a helicopter, taking to the skies to enjoy birds-eye views of the country’s stunning landscapes, and being dropped into otherwise unreachable terrain on top of a mountain to begin your adventure.
Rides cater to both experts and beginners, usually with full and half day trips on offer. And the terrain ranges from single alpine tracks through to rough 4WD roads and open ridgeline trails, so a mountain bike is a must.
- Have a back-up cycling route planned since heli-biking is heavily weather dependent.
- High altitudes mean low temps, so prepare by packing warm gear for your ride.
- If you can, build your fitness level and muscular strength before you go to meet the physical demands of cross-country and downhill riding.