8 reasons why cycling is the best way to travel
8 reasons why cycling is the best way to travel
Getting around on a bike, powered by your own two legs, is a very satisfying way to explore a destination. Faster than walking, more intimate than driving – here's 8 reasons cycling is the best way to travel.
1. Travel at the right speed to soak up local life
The really great up-side of a cycling tour is the speed that you'll travel at. It's faster than walking, so you will cover more ground, but it's slower than a bus or train – so you'll have plenty of time to soak up the local way of life.
Get amongst the landscapes and local life as you cycle Tanzania
In Tanzania, you'll cycle through small villages and plantations and take in the sprawling African landscape of volcanoes, escarpments and salt lakes. Cycle along car-free dirt roads to get way off the beaten track and, later, visit the Maasai people in their small village. You will have to swap your bike for a safari vehicle to game drive through the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater – but the pace on a game drive is pretty relaxed so you'll feel right at home.
2. Get some sweet exercise
A great side-benefit of a cycling trip is that you're actually doing something good for your body as well as your mind. On a cycling tour, cycling days vary from perhaps 10 kilometres to 70 kilometres, with some rest days in between. Often you can decide how much cycling you want to do – you can do the full day plus optional extras, or just cycle the highlights then jump in the support vehicle for a rest. There's no pressure to cycle hard, but after you find your cycling legs, you wont want to stop!
Give your thighs a workout in Central America
On a 16-day cycle through Central America with Intrepid for example, you'll cover a lot of territory. You'll ride up steep cobblestone roads to hilltop towns, cycle around volcanoes, across islands, into wildlife reserves, along historic railroads and through old towns. There's some decent hills on this journey so you may find you need to lean on the support vehicle somewhere along the way. But the rewards for your efforts are great – awesome travel times plus thighs of steel.
3. Mingle with the locals
Travel is all about meeting the locals and learning about their culture. When you are on a bike you will be interacting with people all the time – other road users, pedestrians, shop owners, people working outdoors – and, of course, the local kids who might run along beside your bike.
Chat with the local cyclists as you pedal around Vietnam
People in Vietnam are big on cycling, so there will be plenty of chances to interact with other pedal-powered commuters. The smiles and nods as they acknowledge visitors to their roads will make you feel very welcome. Chat to the locals as you stop at a roadside store for a drink in the hilltown of Dalat. Give a friendly nod to the scooter riders as you pedal along the beachside esplanade in Nha Trang. Pull up beside a rice paddy to watch farmers at work as you cycle by the limestone karts of Mai Chau. Cycling Vietnam will offer loads of opportunities to get friendly with the local folk.
4. No need to organise transport – or anything really
Have you ever seen those awkward boxes that people pack bikes in for plane travel? It doesn't look easy. But on a cycling tour, you don't need to do that – good quality bikes are supplied. You'll have a well-thought out itinerary for cycling plus the luxury of a support vehicle to carry your bags (and you, if you need it). You wont need to wait at the bus stop, lug your bags or google gradient maps. On a cycling tour, you just need to jump on your trusty two-wheeler and go.
Just jump on your bike in Japan
After touching down in Osaka (with no need to lug a bike from the airport to the city), you'll be ready to hit the road cycling the very next day. The support vehicle will take you to the perfect place to start cycling – and you'll ride nearly 50 kilometres on secondary roads and dedicated cycling paths, past traditional houses, community gardens and ancient temples. Off to a great start – and all that without you having to organise anything.
5. Be the big boss of your own journey
On a bike, you can take your own sweet time. If you want to stop and sniff a flowering tree, you can. If you are riding past an interesting building, you can stop to take a look, have a drink, then head on your way again. Stopping and starting is not a big deal, so you'll be the big boss of your own journey, seeing plenty of little details up close and personal.
Cycle through the temples of Bagan in Myanmar
Bagan, in Myanmar, is the perfect place to explore by bike. This vast plain of over 2000 ancient temples stretches across 100 square kilometres – it's an area too big to thoroughly explore on foot. But on your bike, you can weave a winding path through the temple fields – stopping wherever something catches your eye – to get a real understanding of the massive scale of this world wonder.
6. Eat extra food (after all that exercise)
Food makes travelling seriously awesome – trying new regional flavours and discovering ingredients you've never heard of. And the great news for cyclists is that you will be starving. You could probably have two dinners if you wanted. And it wont be greedy. You'll deserve it.
Tuck into a traditional slow food Tuscan meal
Cycling through Tuscany is about as good as it gets. Stunning landscapes, incredible history, and food that can make a grown-up cry. Pure bliss. After a day in the saddle, settle in at a local homestead for a long Tuscan meal of slow food presented in the traditional way. Course after course will appear as you graze and gobble your way through delicious slow-cooked dishes – and there will be enough room in your tummy to eat everything up.
7. Get wholesome in the great outdoors
Out in the elements, you're at one with nature – if the sun's shining, you'll feel it. If the wind's blowing, your legs will know about it. And if the rain starts pelting... well, you can just clamber into the support vehicle. There's something fundamentally healthy about being outside, in the elements, amongst nature. You'll feel so wholesome.
Feel the wind in your hair as you hug the beautiful South African coastline
Cycling along the curving coastal roads in South Africa, you can look out for penguins, seals and whales. You'll cycle under rock outcrops, around hairpin bends and past endless stretches of pristine beach. There's high passes, sweeping downhills and rugged mountains – cycling South Africa is a physical experience and an up-close encounter with mother nature. Things don't get much more outdoorsy and wholesome.
8. And finally... downhills exist
It's the great adrenaline-fuelled joy of cycling – coasting downhill after a long slog up. Speeding along the road with no pedalling required, leaning into the corners like a pro racer. You'll get to coast some serious downhills on a cycling tour. And, unlike a normal bike ride, if the uphills are too tough you can jump on the support vehicle to take a rest.
Coast past the white houses of the hills of Andalucia
Cycling tours are designed with fun in mind so some days you're rewarded with extra downhills. You'll drive to a certain point in the support vehicle and then jump on the bikes to ride the rest of the way – downhills for free. On a cycling tour in Andalucia, southern Spain, you'll cycle through a nature reserve, take a hike, have some lunch, then jump on your bike for a 15 kilometre downhill coast into the town of Antequera. A great day in the saddle!