My favourite way to spend free time

I love cycling vacations. In fact, I look forward to the next one as soon as I come back from the last one.

I’m a bit of a cycling fanatic. I’ve cycled most of my adult life, from racing to GranFondos. I’ve reveled in la dolce vita in Italian Bike Hotels and endured lung-busting climbs in the Alps. I’ve been privileged to meet some of my favourite cycling heroes, and have even been spotted waving a giant Canadian flag on the side of a rain-soaked Grand Tour stage. Yep, you could say, I am a cycling fan. I love almost everything with the word cycling in it. And, especially cycling holidays. What better way to explore the world than on a bike?

Regardless of whether you are a planner or a spur-of-the-moment kind of traveller, cycling while vacationing adds that extra dimension and excitement to a trip. Riding through villages, mountain passes or winding along the side of a gorge feels refreshing, majestic and somewhat formidable. But, the feeling you get inside… well, it simply fills you up. It’s hard to explain but, when you look back at the road you just climbed, you forget your legs feel weak and you’re gasping for more air, you just… take in the moment.

As fall weather rolls in, I’ve started thinking about spring cycling vacations, camps and even a multi-sport destination. I have yet to combine a cycling trip with hiking or yoga but, the idea is intriguing. Of course, the tried and true cycling destinations are always impressive and appealing: Italy, France or Spain.

Riding the Pyrenees, Alps or the Tuscany, the routes range from moderate to challenging but they are always doable for a healthy bicycle-savvy adult. All three countries have well-cycled roads, mind-blowing vista’s and lots of selfie or group-photo opportunities. The bonus; you can eat as much as you like especially after burning some extra-big calories.

The routes in the big 3 countries are varied and can accommodate a variety of cycling experience. Most well-known companies are educated in route selection and have guides with great intuition when it comes to rider skill-sets and how to match route-and-rider. This is important especially on the infamous high mountain roads. I suggest a few cycling skills sessions at home prior to cycling in Europe if you have limited big-ride experience. It is definitely worth the money.

Socializing is always compelling in Italy, Spain or France. It’s entertaining and engaging to interact with like-minded riders from around the world on the roadside and in the cafes. When you share stories of the day, everyone tells their version of events. There’s always a beguiling tale of the ride (or two) up Mt. Ventoux. These stories are the memories you talk about years later

Cycling vacations are an outstanding way to travel especially if you are looking to hang out with like-minded individuals who really understand your love affair with your bike. Believe me, there is no shortage of cycling conversation or quirky people from pretty interesting places. It’s funny the way an unexpected chat can open your mind to new adventure and possibilities. Don’t we all love a story or two of unbelievable content that seems to get more embellished especially after a grappa or two. But then again… as Velominati, ‘Keepers of the Cog’ say, “free your mind and your legs will follow.”