Whether halfway around the world, or across half the world, touring by bike may be the best way to see wherever you may be. Cycling’s good for the soul and shows you parts of the country you can’t appreciate behind a steering wheel. It’s also a great way to work off the fuzz from those sangria-filled nights when you were explaining the differences between Canada and America to shag-worthy Australian backpackers. And there are lots of great options abroad during the Canadian winter.
There are more organized tours in Europe than you can shake a spoke wrench at. They’re great, but with a little planning, you could easily forget them and go solo.
If you can peddle 60km in six hours and your bike isn’t a Value Village clunker, you’ll do okay. Prepare with the bible of cycle touring (Nicholas Crane’s aptly named Cycling In Europe). Get panniers and other equipment at bike stores like Dukes, SweetPete’s, and Velotique. Many tour organizers arrange local rentals at a fraction of purchase cost, but you should still pony up for a good pair of shorts.
If you haven’t yet, you deserve to ride through that Mecca of cycling, France. Though the traditional French tour rolls through the Loireriver valley, we prefer a jaunt across the Cote d’Azure. Leave Marseilles asquickly as is polite – the city is rocky and dirty, the beach is rockier and dirtier. Friendlier beaches and nightlife await in St. Tropez, Cannes and Nice – each spaced a day’s ride apart. Set your course for Monte Carlo with its multi-millionaires (and their multi-mistresses).
If a Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren isn’t quite in the budget, rolling in on your two-wheeler is the only way to go. Start with a sprint around the grand prix course, just follow the signs. Come back to the seafront and window-shop the yachts. Grab an espresso and smile back at the models digging your lycra.
START CLOSER TO HOME THIS SUMMER
Viking Trail & The Cabot Trail: ACC organizes great tours of the Maritimes and Newfoundland.
Ride The Rideau: Ready to go it alone? Ride along the waterfront from Union Station to Parliament Hill.
Weekend Warrior: TBN organizes trips around the GTA and beyond.