Consider a bicycle tour for your next vacation
I fell in love with bicycle touring at the age of 27 when I rode my first Ride The Rockies. Experiencing our state via bicycle is a splendid way to spend a week. I have been hooked on cycling vacations ever since.
It’s the combination of being outdoors all day, the camaraderie of cycling with friends and busting out of a daily routine that started my fervor for vacationing on a bike that continues to this day. Oh, and there’s the opportunity to eat pancakes every day without guilt.
In 1973, the first cross-state tour across Iowa, RAGBRAI (The Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa), began. I rode RAGBRAI in 2001 and I think it’s a must-do ride because it’s so unique. One night we camped in a John Deere equipment sales lot with tractors and combines. We cuddled baby pigs at a local farm and ate rhubarb pie made by ladies from local churches.
Since then, other states have followed in RAGBRAI’s footsteps and it has become the model for cross-state bicycle tours in some 40 states. Cycle Oregon is a ride that was on my list for some time, and in 2005 I rode the Lewis and Clark Trail from Boardman to Astoria. I’m also looking forward to touring Colorado’s Eastern Plains on a future Pedal The Plains.
In my opinion, camping is the best way to fully experience these cross-state tours as you develop friendships with fellow adventurers in tent city.
Bike tours with amenities
In addition to organized rides, there are other options for seeing an area by bike and there are myriad tour operators who create marvelous cycling experiences throughout the world with varying price tags. Some touring companies offer trips for solos and families, and some even offer multi-sport adventures. The options are limitless.
Earlier this month I toured Tuscany by bike and it was a joy. The cycling was hilly, the scenery splendid and the food and wine a celebration! Every detail was handled. My group was followed by a support van with snacks and water, and if any us didn’t want to make the daunting climb on that day, we could jump in the van for a lift to the top, where a plate of wild boar rigatoni and vino rosso awaited us.
I think riding a bike for a week or two both softens and expands us. We become more attuned to our environment, clear our heads of needless worry, shed our armor and are reminded of how joyful it can be to ride a bike. If you haven’t tried bike touring, I highly recommend it. And if you have, please share a little something about your experience in the comments. I’m always looking for new ideas!
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Scott Pearson -
My wife and I did a 7 day VBT bicycle tour of Tuscany, Italy and had a simply marvelous time. Fully supported, riders of all levels, and phenomenal food and vino….. I highly recommend it!!!!
Daina Kalnins -
HI Michele – I’ve been a bicycle tour enthusiastic since 1994 and a Bicycle Colorado member for ____(?)__. Whoa… the fun times have flown by!
I started a business where I design photo books for individuals or small group bicycle tours. I’d love to speak with you more about it!
Steven Litt -
For those wanting great bike vacations there is nothing like riding rail lines converted to bike and hike trails. The nonprofit, Rails to Trails, is a source for endless joyful rides and hikes.
I just returned from Oregon where I rode the Banks to Vernonia trail. Last year I spent close to a week riding the KATY trail across Missouri. Food, historic hotels, even wine country in Missouri, were great extras.
Not all of us can or want to ride steep mountainous trails. Rails to Trails are mostly slight grades because the trains couldn’t climb steep routes.
Yes, vacation bike rides are a joy, but the flatter they are the more fun most of us have.