As the muscular thighs of Tour de France cyclists bulge across screens for the majority of July, harness your brawn-envy and book a cycling holiday. Such excursions come in various guises – from the ultra-organised, guided tours, where your belongings follow the route in a van and every day ends with luxurious accommodation, to more daring self-navigated trails in far-flung countries, where nights may be spent beneath a tarpaulin. The right two wheels will see you safely across most countries’ terrain; this could be a novel way to explore an unfamiliar continent.
Starting in Europe, home of the Tour, plenty of companies offer group holidays inspired by the century-old race. Fans of the competition can revel in familiar scenes of triumph by taking on the climbs and sprints traversed by the greats. The eight-day ‘Classic cols of the Tour de France’ involves about 43 miles a day of steady ascent, with tougher climbs an option for more experienced riders.
This Exodus trip – including accommodation, but excluding flights – is around $1341.
Fancy something a little more tropical? The African island of Madagascar has a combination of verdant highlands, dusty tracks and dry gorges that ensure pleasingly morphing scenery. An 18-day trek gives travellers the chance to spot chameleons and lemurs in National Parks and culminates in a swim in the Indian Ocean. Daily distances vary between 11 and 58 miles, but the final four days are purely hiking and relaxing by the coast.
African Bikers offer this trip, excluding flights, from $2795.
Salt baths, lakeside relaxation, geisha spotting and karaoke – the Japan Tea and Temples holiday is packed with activities, but still offers 14 out of a total 16 days in the saddle. Along the road from Kyoto to Osaka you’ll stay in traditional ryokans and minshuku – many of which boast their own natural hot-spring baths – and learn how to prepare some exquisite Japanese foods. Physically, this trip is relatively easy-going, giving cyclists the chance to enjoy the landscape.
Skedaddle’s land-only price is around $5269 per cyclist.
In the southern hemisphere, New Zealand is a top spot for incredibly picturesque rides. An eight-day road tour of the North Island will take you from Auckland to Rotura and includes overnight stays in farmhouses and four-star beachside hotels. Look forward to coastal roads, valley trails, the boiling mud pools of Rotura, and Agrodome – a sheep farming theme park.
The trip is available with Cycle New Zealand from $2617.
There are bike tours and bike tour companies aplenty in North America. For a short trip to suit all abilities this jaunt through California’s Santa Barbara wine country is ideal. The four-day trip involves regular stops for wine tasting and gourmet meals, and offers gentle inclines past vineyards, farms and flower-filled fields. Every day offers both a moderate ride and a longer option (peaking at about 50 miles), so you needn’t worry about pacing the wine consumption.
The trip with Duvine starts at $2695 per person.
A mountain-biking holiday through Peru and Bolivia gives the option of a pre-scheduled group tour or a personalised trip for two or more people. The route takes in Lima, Cusco, Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca, La Paz, and the Road of Death and features some off-road segments and tricky climbs. Enjoy the Inca Sacred Valley, snow-capped mountains, yellow grasslands and icy streams. The final day brings a chance to explore La Paz.
An 18-day trip with Red Spokes starts at $2100.