Ask Yourself This Question Before Researching Self-Guided Cycling Holidays
Written by Jaillan Yehia
You’re about to start researching (or maybe you’ve already started) self-guided cycling holidays in Europe, and there are lots of different options, destinations and companies to consider.
There are 50 countries in Europe, many sharing mountain ranges and offering similar types of terrain with slight differences, so the choice is overwhelming.
But as much as you love the open road and the sense of freedom a bike gives you, and as important as the scenery you’ll see along the way is to the overall enjoyment of your cycling trip, make sure you consider this one key fact before you go any further:
A cycling holiday is the best foodie vacation you’ll ever go on.
I say that because it was the single biggest takeaway – if you’ll pardon the pun – from my own road cycling holiday in Provence.
So the question you need to ask yourself before you start researching any cycling holiday abroad is simple: ‘which country’s food do I like best?.’
Or put another way, ‘which cuisine do I want a free pass to eat for a week straight, without gaining any weight?’
Of course a lot of people go everywhere with their bike. And a lot of people go all over the world in search of good food. But one thing I would never have fully appreciated until I went on my own proper dedicated cycling holiday, is that you really have struck gold when you combine the two.
If you think about it, apart from the actual cycling, the only activity you are guaranteed to do for hours every day on a cycling vacation, is eat. So when booking it makes sense to base your decision on the food you’ll eat almost as much as the cycling you’ll do.
Cycling builds up an appetite like no other – and unlike with so many types of holiday, you really and truly earn a slap up lunch and a decadent dinner on every single day of your biking trip, so you might as well pick a country where you’ll be rewarded with the cuisine of your dreams.
The reason self guided cycling holidays are an even bigger win for foodies over guided cycling holidays, skiing holidays or many other activity holidays is that you find yourself at a different hotel, and in a new town for virtually every meal – meaning you have an unparalleled opportunity to sample a wide range of different dishes in a host of settings.
For that reason I’m glad my first cycling holiday was in France – a country famed not only for it’s good food, but for long, leisurely meals, usually involving copious amounts of cream and cheese.
Put simply, there is no way I could have indulged in a 4-course dinner every night, including a cheese board, on a normal vacation. I wouldn’t have had the appetite for it, and even if I did I wouldn’t have been able to do my trousers up for the flight home.
There are also pitfalls to look out for with this food + cycling + holiday = happiness thing.
If you’re covering lots of ground in places like rural France, it can be very tricky to find food outside of normal restaurant hours, so you have to make sure your main rest stop coinices with lunchtime, or you’ll find yourself feasting on cherries by the side of the road in lieu of lunch (true story).
It’s also a good idea to look into the days of the week the towns you’re cycling in or through hold their markets, and conversely, close their eateries – it could mean the difference between tucking into a bountiful picnic in between cycling sessions, and being met with a sign that says ‘fermé le lundi’. Or you can go with a company like Mark Warner who offer holidays which include cycling and food.
But of course one of the big plus points is that in many European countries ‘prixe fixe’ or menu del dia lunch menus are common – meaning you can have a wonderful 3-course set meal for a fantastic price.
So I hope I’ve convinced you that as much as climate, terrain, scenery, equipment and cost are all factors on planning your bicycle adventures, the kind of food that makes you drool is more important than the lot.
For my next cycle tour I’ll undoubtedly choose Italy – it’s the only way I can get a free pass to gorge on pasta and pizza on holiday and still come home home feeling fitter.
PIN IT FOR LATER!
Trackback from your site.