The New Zealand Herald
HAVE WHEELS, WILL
Georgia Humphreys suggests some interesting routes for those cyclists who are not quite up to the Tour de France
When Baron Karl Freiherr von Drais invented the bicycle 200 years ago — albeit one without pedals that was really more of a running machine — the German inventor probably had little idea he was (quite literally) starting a revolution. Since then, travelling by two wheels has become a popular leisure activity — some people even do it for a holiday.
Fortunately, not every cycling trip requires super-human levels of fitness and several pairs of race-ready Lycra shorts.
Try these tours if you want to enjoy the ride without feeling like you’re taking part in the Tour de France.
CATALONIA, SPAIN With its rich, red soil, long hours of sunshine and rolling vineyards, Penedes, an hour’s drive southwest of Barcelona, is one of Europe’s most diverse and exciting wine regions. Try a self-guided Cava Country tour, for example, visiting famous wineries such as Condoniu and Freixenet, along with smaller family-run outfits, where bottles are still painstakingly turned by hand. The holiday ends in Sant Sandurni d’Anoia, where the first bottle of Cava was produced in 1872. 2INNER HEBRIDES,
SCOTLAND Cycle along twisted ribbons of quiet island roads, soaking up the atmosphere of wild, dramatic landscapes. A seven-day cycling tour can take you from the Isle of Mull, through the Ardnamurchan Peninsula and on to the Isle of Skye. Highlights include exploring the ancient abbey on the Isle of Iona, dining on superb seafood in Tobermory, stopping off at a local smokehouse to stock up on fish, meats and cheeses for a picnic lunch, and a tour of Talisker whisky distillery.
TANZANIA Thought African wildlife could only be viewed from a 4WD? Wrong — you can actually safari straight from the saddle. A two-week ride through northern Tanzania offers both traditional game-viewing and vistas of remote African plains where few tourists go. There’s the lure of seeing big cats and black rhino in the Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Crater (from the safety of a vehicle), and even a chance to walk through villages and learn about local Maasai culture. A warning: the terrain can be hilly and the climate is warm, so you’ll need to be relatively fit.
4THEISLE OF WIGHT Measuring 20km by 40km, the Isle of Wight is the perfect size for exploring by bike. It also has a cycle-friendly mild climate and largely unspoilt countryside — nearly half of the island is designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It’s also one of the few places in England where you can still see a red squirrel or Glanville fritillary butterfly, so the Red Squirrel Route is great for wildlife lovers. The ride starts at Cowes in the north of the island and finishes at Sandown in the east, and includes two long sections of a former railway path.
5OTAGO RAIL TRAIL New Zealand’s oldest trail trail cover 150km of dry and rocky plains and deep river gorges from Clyde through to Lauder, Ranfurly and Middlemarch. It was once New Zealand’s longest railway branch line, but it’s since become a world-class bike track, attracting 10,000 to 12,000 riders each year. The reality of the dramatic Central Otago landscapes will be sure to exceed expectations — from the mountains to the brooding cloud formations, Stonehenge-like boulders,
leaping lambs and circling hawks. 6CALIFORNIA The spectacular Bizz Johnson National Recreation Trail follows the old Fernley and Lassen Railroad line, established in 1914 to transport logs and milled lumber to and from the Westwood