Temperatures are rising, and for some people that means it’s time to hit the road again—on a bicycle.
Anyone who has driven Sheridan Road on a weekend knows just how popular biking is on the North Shore. But some people are really getting in gear and signing up for week-long biking trips, from the wine trails of Sonoma to the foodie trails of Tuscany.
Bike trips were once just for serious, spandex-wearing athletes, interested in careening long distances at 30 miles per hour. Today’s bike trips are often more easy rider than road warrior. Hundreds of companies now offer outings that include transporting your luggage in a van and arranging your meals and lodging. Accompanying guides make sure the route is safe and that all riders are well taken care of.
Whether you’re a serious cyclist or you just want to enjoy the ride, these bike trips will get your wheels spinning.
Pedaling Through Europe
Winnetka’s Mindy Fauntleroy, co-founder of Make It Better, lived la dolce vita with her 18-year-old daughter during their biking tour of Tuscany with Backroads, one of the largest and most established bike touring companies. “Every possible creature comfort was met and then some,” Fauntleroy says. “I refer to that Backroads trip as the ‘don’t make me think’ vacation.
“Each day our guides would prepare a map and multiple biking options for seeing the country,” Fauntleroy says. “Day one: Florence, then off to Vivaldo for warm-up rides in the countryside through quaint towns. We rode every day to a different town and stayed in beautiful 16th-century historic villas. Backroads moved all of our luggage each day and basically catered to our every need.”
Not a pedal pusher? Worried you won’t be able to keep up? Put the brakes on those thoughts, Fauntleroy says. “Anyone can do the trip in any shape. The guides are so accommodating. Even if you only want to ride a few miles, all you have to do is put your arm out and they pick you up. The van has lots of drinks and snacks so you can refresh and get back on at any point. It’s so easy and no one gives anyone a hard time!”
Rolling Across America
Bicycle Adventures describes itself as “fun-loving” and “über-organized.” Best known for tours in California and the Pacific Northwest, Bicycle Adventures has tours available throughout the U.S. and Canada.
Imagine pedaling past dramatic coastlines, exploring coffee plantations, hiking tropical volcanoes and snorkeling with green sea turtles. Say aloha to a bicycle trip in Hawaii! Another popular tour takes riders through Sonoma wine country, sampling the area’s most scenic routes, as well as the best wines.
Most tours have a maximum of 13 guests and combine biking with other outdoor sports and adventures. Daily distances range from 35-60 miles, but shorter and longer distances are available.
Mountain Biking Adventures
Outdoor enthusiasts can join Sacred Rides for a journey through Nepal. Not ready for Kathmandu? This mountain-bike adventure tour company also travels to Peru, New Zealand and British Columbia. Sacred Rides emphasizes immersion in local culture and a multi-sport approach to travel, biking in tandem with yoga, surfing, rafting and hiking.
Family Bike Trip
Kids in tow? Plenty of bike tours offer a family plan, where the distances covered and speed are kept to a minimum. For adventure-loving parents who don’t want to compromise their vacation itinerary, Sacred Rides offers a new option that puts the brakes on humdrum family vacations.
“As any parent knows, life post-kids is radically different from life pre-kids,” says Sacred Rides owner Mike Brcic. “Your former adventurous life is reduced to changing diapers and visiting IKEA on the weekends. Who wants to travel halfway around the world to ride a bike at three miles an hour with their kids? We’ve started offering family bike tours where parents go out mountain biking in the morning, while qualified caregivers look after the kids. Then everyone has lunch together, and in the afternoon we do fun off-bike adventures for the whole family. Depending on the trip, there are surfing lessons, horseback riding and more.” Kids must be a minimum of 4 years old.
Photos courtesy of each company. Top photo courtesy of Bicycle Adventures.