Top 10 Week­end Es­capes re­vealed

Don’t have Fancy get­ting away from it all? Don't have much time/cash to spare? Then al­low our mini bike breaks guide to in­spire you! WORDS NICK SOLDINGER

Bikes Etc - - CONTENTS -

The best places to go for a short cy­cling break.

OK, so we might be run­ning out of year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t squeeze in one more cy­cling ad­ven­ture to re­mem­ber (and keep you go­ing through the grim-weather months ahead). If like us you’re not a semi-re­tired mil­lion­aire, right now you’re prob­a­bly think­ing, ‘No chance, mate!’ But don’t rule it out just yet, be­cause in here you’ll find 10 great cy­cling des­ti­na­tions within easy reach that won’t cost you a packet to get to.

1 South­west France

The Langue­doc re­gion of south­west France is, quite sim­ply a joy. Its cli­mate is as­ton­ish­ing, man­ag­ing to cram in around 300 days of sun­shine ev­ery year in an en­vi­ron­ment that nev­er­the­less re­mains green and boun­ti­ful thanks to the Pyre­nean moun­tain rivers that nour­ish the land. The Pyre­nees have, of course, long been syn­ony­mous with the Tour de France and it’s that as­so­ci­a­tion – along with the fab­u­lous scenery and al­most im­pec­ca­ble weather – that draws cyclists most of the year round. The au­tumn, though, is prob­a­bly the best time to ride here. Sum­mer can be se­ri­ously hot, with tem­per­a­tures strik­ing north of 30°F/86°C. And al­though it can be too hu­mid in Septem­ber, and too wet and cold from Jan­uary to April, late au­tumn through to early win­ter is an of­ten idyl­lic time in this part of the world. Oc­to­ber in par­tic­u­lar can pro­vide near-per­fect cy­cling con­di­tions, with tem­per­a­tures hov­er­ing around 20°C/69°F and rain­fall tak­ing a def­i­nite dip from mid-oc­to­ber to midNovem­ber. As for the rid­ing, come on? What greater rec­om­men­da­tion do you need than unique chal­lenges such as the Col d’aubisque or the Col du Tour­malet? Have a look at cy­clinglangue­doc.com to learn more.

2 South­west Ire­land

The Din­gle Penin­sula is south­west Ire­land’s most westerly point. In fact, it’s Europe’s most westerly point and is the first place the Gulf Stream hits af­ter its 3,000-mile dash across the At­lantic from the Caribbean. It’s what gives this part of the world some­thing of a freak­ish cli­mate. So when Au­tumn ar­rives in the Din­gle, tem­per­a­tures oddly start to rise again. As Septem­ber pro­gresses, they can peak around the 20°C/68°F mark, mak­ing it – along with July – the re­gion’s hottest month. It’s also, cu­ri­ously, by far its dri­est, and al­though Oc­to­ber is wet­ter by com­par­i­son, tem­per­a­tures can still climb to a none-too-shabby 59°F/15°C. While the warm wa­ters help to cre­ate a mag­i­cal mi­cro-cli­mate, the winds that have whipped in off the At­lantic over mil­len­nia have helped carve out a land­scape as wild and won­der­ful as any in the world. And as for the rid­ing, it’s a cy­clist’s wish list. There are plenty of well-main­tained roads, a dis­tinct lack of traf­fic and if you’re look­ing for a chal­lenge, might we sug­gest the Bóthar na gcloch (lit­er­ally road of stones), an X-rated climb, av­er­ag­ing about 9% as you winch your way up 5km to its peak. Its last stretch is what makes it such a badass though, when the gra­di­ent sud­denly kicks up to 20% for the last 250 me­tres. Dis­mount if you dare!

3 , Côtedazur

Now, here’s a thing. Nice air­port is lit­er­ally on the beach, mean­ing that once you walk off your cheapo air­lines flight you could lit­er­ally cy­cle out of cus­toms and into the sun­shine of the Prom­e­nade des Anglais. Head east out of town and you’ll find your­self on an im­mac­u­late road up the Col d’eze, which winds its way up­wards at an aver­age 6% for around 10km and has been a reg­u­lar fea­ture in the Paris-nice cy­cling race over the years. It’s just one of dozens of spec­tac­u­lar rides that this re­gion has on of­fer, whether its ex­plor­ing the hills of the Mas­sif des Mau­res along quiet roads flanked by cork oaks, or along coastal routes past sandy beaches and craggy headlands. In be­tween you’ve got towns whose names have be­come by­words for glam­our and wealth – St Tropez, Cannes, An­tibes and of course the tax haven of Monaco. Part of the rea­son the su­per-rich choose to live here is, of course, the weather, with the re­gion en­joy­ing more than 200 days of sun­shine a year. The au­tumn is an ideal time to visit as it’s still warm enough for cy­cling, while the ma­jor­ity of tourists have skedad­dled. Even in Oc­to­ber, tem­per­a­tures have been known to linger around 21°C/71°F, while in Novem­ber you can ex­pect some days to hit 18°C/65°F. Just to put that into per­spec­tive, it can be as low as 6°C/43°F in Lon­don at the same time of year – with a 57% chance of rain. Brrr!

See those three? That could be you and your mates. The week­end af­ter next...

FLIGHT TIME: 1hr 50 PRICE: Flights only from ap­prox £35 re­turn to Toulouse MORE INFO: cy­clinglangue­doc.com

FLIGHT TIME: 2hrs PRICE: Flights only from ap­prox £45 re­turn to Nice MORE INFO: azur­cy­cle­tours.com

FLIGHT TIME: 1 hr 25 PRICE: Flights only from ap­prox £40 re­turn to Kerry MORE INFO: iron­don­key.com

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