Travel

Good Health (Australia) - - Contents -

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

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