Explore the world on two wheels – ‘Four Wheels Good, Two Wheels Better!’
My best ever birthday present was a weekend mountain-biking course in the Lake District. I learnt how correct use of gears helps you up impossibly steep hills, sped down narrow mountain paths with precipitous drops, enjoyed a ‘slow race’ (where the last person to reach the finishing line wins!) and generally pushed myself far beyond the norm. I absolutely loved it (falls and all), particularly the well earned pints at scenic Cumbrian pubs at the end of a hard day in the hills.
Since then I have enjoyed painful ascents followed by exhilarating descents in the mountains of New Zealand, gentle cycles past the paddy fields of Indonesia and all manner of different experiences in the Americas. I would never consider myself an uber-cyclist but certainly appreciate the benefits of exploring on two wheels - whilst getting fit simultaneously.
At Imaginative Traveller we have always been keen to get out and explore a destination at grassroots level. And what better way to do this than on a bike… Our cycling tours offer a totally new perspective on a destination – why not actually meet the locals by cycling alongside them?
Many of our trips include exploring a town or site by bike, which allows for a more relaxed approach than the more traditional sightseeing tour. You choose when to hop on or off your bike, stop for a photo or chat to the locals. However, we also offer specific cycling tours which come under our ‘Active’ trip style – the most rewarding holidays out there!
You may be put off by the idea of sitting in the saddle all day, slogging up intimidating hills in tropical conditions, being left behind by a group of ultra-fit cycle enthusiasts. However, I have learnt from personal experience that this simply does not happen.
1) All our bike tours give detailed information about actual days and distances cycled. This averages out to roughly two thirds of the days spent in the saddle, thus plenty of recovery time. The longest cycling day on any of our tours is 62 miles in Vietnam down to 31 miles in Jordan.
2) All our bike trips are a moderate pace of 8-10km/hr. It’s not a race! Take your time to enjoy the sights and experiences en route. A good friend cycled from Lhasa in Tibet to Kathmandu in Nepal, along one of the highest roads in the world. He was always last into camp but he took his time, never hopped in the support vehicle and so enjoyed a sense of achievement on the way as well as numerous more local encounters than his super-speedy companions.
3) People are always worried about personal fitness on any of our active trips. Again, from experience I find it is often the ultra-fit athletes that have the most issues with altitude or climate as they do not temper their pace to local conditions. Obviously you need to have a few miles under your belt before you head off on your trip but the Tour de France it is not….
4) Support – yes, there is support! Every bike tour has a support vehicle in case of equipment malfunction - or simple exhaustion. Nice to know as a back-up – but think of the sense of pride you get from not giving in to that challenging climb up the Hai Van Pass in Vietnam – not forgetting that exhilarating ride back down!
5) Bikes can be hired locally (details can be found in the individual trip notes) or you can take your own. There is usually an acclimatisation ride where any problems can be ironed out and help is always on hand with our support staff.