The mention of the words ‘cycling holiday’ may well conjure up images of puffing around Cape Town’s peninsula with a knapsack full of soggy sandwiches.
But put aside your prejudices.
A growing awareness of health and ‘green’ issues has seen a big revival in cycle touring holidays.
Thus, offering you the chance to bike through some of the world’s finest scenery, stopping off to sample food and fine wines on the way.
A perfect option if you prefer your armchair to a long slog is a trip around Piedmont in Italy
Home of the Slow Food movement, Piedmont is a “soft option for those who like to pootle along country roads”, says Mark Hodson in The Times.
Headwater Holidays organises eight-day gastronomic tours, with your luggage transferred between hotels along the route. With a relaxed itinerary of around 32km a day, you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy the region’s wines. Also, the local speciality of white truffles. Furthermore, prices start at $1700 and include Eurostar crossings and bike hire. See www.headwater.com for details.
More active tourists should head further east to the emerging tourist hotspots of the Balkans – such as Bosnia, Serbia and Slovenia. Also, Slovenia’s Solcava region, close by the Austrian border in the Kamnik- Savinja Alps, offers splendid cycling, with signed routes taking in forested valleys and panoramic mountain scenery.
Stay in a tourist farm and enjoy the hearty cuisine
This combines the best of Italian and Central European cookery. Themed tours also allow you to visit the country’s stunning caves, lakes and castles. See www.slovenia.info for more.
If you are looking for a challenge, KE Adventure Travel lets more experienced peddlers follow in the footsteps of Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan and Marco Polo. They organise 25-day tours along the historic Silk Road across Central Asia. Starting in Kazakhstan, the trail passes through the mountains of Kyrgyzstan and China and ends up in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad.
This route is one of the most strenuous on offer. But rest days are built into the schedule and a support vehicle accompanies the group. In addition, a particular highlight, says Tom Chesshyre in the Daily Mail, is a visit to the trading oasis of Kashgar. Here, where the numerous arteries of the Silk Road converge, you can haggle in the bazaars or enjoy a visit to the horse races (www.keadventure.com).