Holiday packages are relaxing with everything sorted in advance – route, bike, accommodation – so you just have to turn up, making travelling to your destination easy and unencumbered.
Two main things to consider:
Packages are fine if you are a standard height and build so are confident the bike will fit you. That’s one of the reasons we’ve never gone on one of these trips – Val is around 5′ tall so off-the-shelf bikes, however much they’re adjusted, do not fit, or don’t fit well enough for long rides in comfort.
Assuming you’re an average size, you’ll probably still want to take along your saddle to put on the hire bike, as a comfortable well-fitting saddle (one that your backside is used to) is another make-or-break feature of a cycling holiday.
If you have special bike shoes, you’ll want to take your pedals too in case the hire bike pedals aren’t compatible with whatever clip-in system your shoes have. Also, you may have to take along a helmet – in some cases because helmet-wearing is a legal requirement of the country; in others because it’s the policy of the holiday company. Ask about hiring if you don’t want to pack a helmet.
Choose from self-catering or all-in, and guided tours if you want to relax completely and let someone else take the lead. But look for days off, and options over distance, as we’ve discovered that one person’s ‘short easy ride’ is another’s exhausting nightmare. That’s why we don’t go on many group rides.
Alternatively, there are self-guided tours where your route is worked out and you are handed the maps and directions, and your luggage is taken on to your next overnight stop. Again, watch those distances and check out how many hills are between you and your evening meal.
We enjoy cycling because we have a minimal impact on our surroundings – quietly pedalling through the landscape, and buying from local small businesses, be they greengrocers, cafes or bars – so we are very impressed by the selection of holidays from Responsible Travel. This company promotes what must be the most ethical holidays available – for individuals, groups and families wanting all-in or self-guided cycling, adventure, walking, special interest and cultural breaks (to mention some of the many) in the UK or abroad. In fact, any cycling tour will inevitably benefit the locals as you tap into the area’s accommodation – take a look at those from G Adventures.