If you want to savour the sweet pleasures of a special bit of our planet in slow motion, two-wheel travel is hard to beat. Cyclists experience a world of uplifting pleasures – flowery smells, bird noises, the gush of wind in hair and the power to pause and ponder when the mood strikes.
An organised bike tour is the way to travel light, and put wings on your feet. Meals and accommodation are organised, the route is pre-planned and gear is transported from one overnight stay to the next. All you need to do is show up each morning and pedal. At the upper end of cycle touring, you can expect gourmet meals, silky accommodation, an uber bike, cool towels and icy drinks.
Not only are they among the most distinguished names on bottle-shop shelves, the Napa, Sonoma and Russian River valleys are also ideal twowheel country. California Wine Country Luxury is a smallgroup, five-star guided trip put together by Trek Travel, an offshoot of one of the world’s favourite bike brands.
Sun-kissed vineyards, redwood forests, spa treatments, art galleries, long winery lunches and gourmet dinners feature on a trip that assembles the good things in life. Nights are spent in chic and stylish country inns and small resorts.
Rides average around 65km per day but Trek Travel tailors its daily routes to cater to multiple riding abilities. Choose from a Trek Domane carbon road bike with electronic shifting, the superlight Émonda or the electric-assist bikes. trektravel.com
A sublime experience for anyone looking for a generous side-serve of culture, the eight-day Japan Biking trip focuses on the Noto Peninsula on the Sea of Japan. The trip juggles forests, rice fields and sea-sculpted cliffs along the peninsula’s coast, with a deep immersion in Japanese culture.
Nights are spent in traditional ryokans, where you might sleep on a futon on a tatami mat floor. Some evenings you’ll steep yourself in a hot spring bath, dress in a cotton yukata (kimono) and sit down to a multi-course kaiseki meal. You’ll explore some of the mysteries of Zen with Buddhist monks, delve
into the Shinto religion, and enjoy a shiatsu massage.
Daily distances range from 25 to 50km, with longer options available on some days. Traffic is light, road conditions are generally excellent and you’ll ride aboard a high-spec Cannondale road bike. butterfield.com
Deep in south-western France, the ‘department’ of Dordogne is rural France at its best, a tapestry of medieval stone villages, limestone plateaux, rivers and the crumbling remnants of ancient bastides, fortified towns surrounded by ramparts. Duvine’s Dordogne Bike Tour plumbs the glories of the region on a journey that
begins at Souillac in the Lot region and spends the next five days wandering along quiet roads alongside the Dordogne River.
While the villages and architecture reflect the simple practicalities of peasant life, there’s nothing restrained about the accommodation that Duvine has chosen, which includes the fairytale Château de la Treyne, a luxury hotel, and the classic Le Vieux Logis. The tour is suitable for riders comfortable with 25km to 70km per day and climbs of up to 750m. duvine.com
From the meeting point in Barcelona, the six-day Pyrenees to Costa Brava tour hits the road in the mountainous Cerdanya region in the Pyrenees and winds down to the beaches of the Costa Brava.
It’s a trip marinated in the powerful traditions of peasant Europe – mountain villages, pilgrimage trails, sunflower fields and goats. Two nights are spent at Torre del Remei, crafted by a disciple of Antoni Gaudí, followed by a night in a 15th-century stone farmhouse at the foot of the Pyrenees, then two final nights in a spa resort on the Costa Brava.
Food is a highlight, from the goat’s and sheep’s milk cheeses of the mountain villages to the aromatic paellas of the Mediterranean coast. Riding on the mountain roads is moderately challenging but Backroads calibrates each day’s ride with different routes to cater to fitness levels. backroads.com
One vine day in California
The rice terraces of Ishikawa on the island of Honshu, Japan
Prayer time at Mondo Yakujin temple in Nishinomiya, Japan
You take the high road: mountain biking in Spain’s Catalonia region
Country life: the Dordogne, France