Planes, Trains, and… Bicycles?8/26/2009
Long before the global warming crisis prompted Americans to revisit the concept of biking as an earth- friendly alternative to suitcase loaded suburban, Europeans had already adopted biking as a regular mode of transportation. With the rise of alternative vacation styles among Americans, the popularity of bike tours, or touring countries from the seat of a bicycle, is rising as well.
Historians are unable to pin point the geographic origin of “cyclotouring” (the name used to refer to bike tours in the late 1890’s), but earliest accounts of activity were in London and Paris. Over the 19th century, bike tours continued to grow in popularity and continue to draw thousands of tourists every year.
There are countless companies that specialize in bicycle tours throughout Europe. Austria, France, and Germany boast a large number of bike tour agencies, but a bike tour agency can be found in just about any European country.
When deciding which bike tour is best for you, consider the goal of your trip. If sight- seeing while improving your physical fitness is your primary goal, consider a bike tour with a vigorous course. Conversely, if you wish to leisurely cruise throughout the European country side, seek bike tours on more level and smooth courses. If you are more adventurous, you might consider a self- guided tour where you are given literature that will direct you to key points of interest. Most reputable bike tour agencies will recommend food and lodge locations.
An active vacation can quickly go from fun to formidable if you do not have a clear idea of where and when you will rest. Other important information to know beforehand is the duration of the bike tour as well as the rest sites and duration of rests.
If you are looking for an alternative to the hackneyed 3 star hotel and confusing tour guides, consider taking a bike tour. No other form of European travel will allow you to ride along scenic coastlines while inhaling the cool, clean air as your endorphins elevate your experience to new heights.