We want to ride our bicycles, we want to ride our bikes....
March 7, 2010 4:03 PM   Subscribe

My husband and I want to cycle in a foreign country - bicycle that is. Caveats apply...

Timeline: 7-9 days tops including travel to and from destination (we are in Minneapolis).

When: This would occur early Fall (Sept/Oct)

Where: We have looked lightly into going to France, or Hungary. Given the capacity of travel, anywhere in Asia or Australia is definitely out.

Who: We want to go solo...err just the two of us. There is a lot of information for travel groups. As much as we like other people, we prefer a self guided tour rather than group travel.

Other important facts:

1) We need to rent bikes, rather than transport our own.
2) We want to stay in 2-3 star lodging.
3) We want a location/region with fantastic food. We are huge foodies and in to trying new things and various cuisines. Because of all of this, Italy is an obvious choice, but we may want something less obvious.

Us: I'm in my mid 20's, and he in his early 30s. While we are both young and somewhat active, we wouldn't want to bike more than 20-30 miles a day. He has traveled extensively in Europe, and I not as much. We both feel comfortable in foreign countries despite not knowing the language and our ability to get around. We are both adventurous and just want to get out there!

I think this covers everything, but I can clarify anything else that may come up.
posted by wocka wocka wocka to Travel & Transportation (8 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Cyclomundo was mentioned in a recent NYTimes article for self-guided tours in France and Italy. I contacted Bruno while entertaining thoughts of a trip very similar to yours (mileage, days, rentals) and he had a number of good options based on my parameters. (I decided to stay domestic and do a U.S. trip so have not actually taken one of his tours).
posted by cocoagirl at 4:15 PM on March 7, 2010

Perhaps go biking in Norway ? I was there last September and it wasn't too cold then and my only regret while visiting was that I was not able to bike/hike the areas (mainly fjords but also in some mountains as I took trains everywhere) I was in.

The food is also great! There's a lot of seafood and some other random bits. I personally had moose for the first time there.
posted by astapasta24 at 4:35 PM on March 7, 2010

I'm not sure about the foodie angle, but Ireland is very bike friendly. I didn't bike, but I met lots of folks who were biking around the south of Ireland.
posted by filthy light thief at 4:57 PM on March 7, 2010

Best answer: I've been on three bike trips through various parts of France, all arranged by Randonee Tours. Every single one was perfect. I think they're exactly what you're looking for. MeMail me if you want more info.
posted by hapax_legomenon at 5:45 PM on March 7, 2010

We did a self guided but supported tour around Avignon. They arranged the bikes, moved our luggage from place to place, arranged decent rooms and dinners each night. If I was going to do it again I would spend a travel day, have a good dinner and night, and then spend a day in the town, then a day later move to the next town. The way our tour was set up was a day in each place. We felt a bit rushed and didn't get a chance to enjoy the towns we spent the nights in (though the bike travel time was superb)

We rented a cell phone for emergencies.

We did some light conditioning before went with a couple long rides just to get used to it.

I was glad I bought padded mountain bike shorts.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 8:44 PM on March 7, 2010

I think France is a good bet, too. The combination of food, weather, and (in the countryside) mostly very bike-respecting drivers should really work. In the mid-90s I spent two summers fixing bikes and sending people out on the back roads of rural France with this company; worth looking at the places where they run tours, even if you don't want to travel with them, because they're in exactly the sort of place that you'd like. The places where I worked were the Loire Valley and the Dordogne, both great areas for cycling. I don't know what the company's like these days, but back then the average holidaymaker went home pretty happy--they got a lot of repeat business. (The fact that the company is still going fifteen years later, in the cut-throat world of the tourism industry, suggests that they still do.)

Just one other thing: it's probably worth being a little more ambitious about your distances. The first cycling holiday I ever went on, as a teenager, my brother and I (completely inexperienced) planned out a couple of days with distances of about 20 miles and were surprised to find ourselves at our destinations just after lunch, with nothing to do until the youth hostel opened at 5. Not such a problem when you're a grown-up, staying in a proper hotel, but still. With a 20-mile day you could leave a hotel at 10am after a relaxed breakfast and still be at your destination by 1pm, without hurrying.

I can now, completely appropriately, say YMMV. But I'm not a racer by any means.

Enjoy your holiday!
posted by lapsangsouchong at 12:29 AM on March 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

you could cycle across Spain on the Camino de Santiago. The food in small in-between villages is pretty repetitive, though. I've also heard good things about the Greenways linking Prague and Vienna, and also Croatia (Istria-- known as the Tuscany of Croatia).
posted by acidic at 11:23 PM on March 8, 2010

Response by poster: awesome answers ya'll. thank you! i'm sure that come September, i'll ask questions as to where to eat too!
posted by wocka wocka wocka at 8:19 PM on March 11, 2010

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