Scenic cycling tours: Pedaling your way across the globe
Dec 8, 2011, 8:35 a.m.
Pedaling across rice paddies, past ancient temples and through emerald jungles, Katie felt like she had stepped straight into a Lonely Planet guidebook to Vietnam. Stopping in a small village for lunch with locals over steaming bowls of pho, she marveled at just how far she'd traveled. At age 60, Katie later told me, she'd never expected to be cycling her way through Vietnam!
"I thought bike trips were just for my grandkids!" laughed Katie. "After all, even though I'm still active, I didn't know if I would have the energy or stamina for a trip like this."
Katie, along with thousands of active older adults just like her, is proving that scenic cycling tours are not just for the grandkids. From day trips to two-week treks, more older adults than ever before are pedaling their way across Asia, South America, Europe and the United States.
Cycling is a low-impact activity that's perfect for active seniors. Gentle on the joints and bones, a cycling tour is a great way to explore the world up close, and a lot more fun than sitting inside a tour bus.
Even better, many adventure travel companies offer tours catering exclusively to seniors. These trips are a great way to meet new friends and ensure that you move at your own comfortable pace. Most senior cycling tours arrange for transportation, lodging, meals and baggage transport. They also provide their own bikes and offer minor bike repair. (Flat tires? Broken chains? Nothing to worry about!)
Ready to slow down and see the world from a bike? Here's how to get started.
Start local. If the last time you went for a bike ride was when your kids were young, the thought of a two-week scenic cycling trip through French wine country is both exciting and a bit overwhelming. Ease back into the saddle by starting local. Many communities offer scenic cycling clubs for seniors. Rent a bike from the club for a day and join the group on a trip through your local community. You'll gain confidence and familiarity with the bike, and get in shape for a longer ride.
Shop around. From the Florida Keys and Napa Valley to the Tuscan countryside and South East Asia, the opportunities for senior cycling tours are endless! The best way to ensure you'll have a positive experience is to spend a little researching tour companies. If you have a specific location in mind (such as France), read online reviews for the different bike companies that offer tours. Check to see if the company caters to seniors, offers English guides and translators (a definite must if you don't speak the language!) and includes extras like meals and lodging.
Monitor last minute departure deals. Like any packaged tour, companies often offer steep discounts prior to the departure date to ensure that all the available spaces are filled. If your schedule allows for flexibility, joining a tour last minute can help you save up to 50% off the cost. However, not all companies openly advertise these discounts on their websites. You may need to sign up for the tour group's e-newsletter to be alerted to price changes. Or try calling to see if any discounted spaces are available -- it never hurts to ask!
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