So, you’ve toughened your thighs on the dash to work, and explored all the cycle trails Singapore has to offer. Now it’s time to get out of the country for fresh air and exercise, and leave this city to the kamikaze cyclists. We’ve mapped out a five-stop whizz around Planet Bike.
Taiwan’s the coolest new country for cyclists. It’s partly due to the fact that the island is no longer filled with polluting factories, but there are also mountains, semi-tropical scenery, colourful temples and delicious food. Kenting, Taiwan boasts Asia’s first hotel specially geared towards pedal-pushers, Yoho Bike Hotel (www.yohobikehotel.com.tw), a boutique beach resort where you can rent mountain bikes; if you take your own there’s a bike ‘spa’ to get your wheels cleaned and oiled.
Package: The ‘Bike Taiwan’ tour from Grasshopper Adventures is a 12-day guided ride taking in the spectacular 120,000-hectare Taroko National Park and Gorge, volcanic Green Island, Kenting National Park, a nature reserve with a tropical climate on the island’s southern tip, and Tainan, the former capital.
Next departure: 5-16 December. Total cost is US$2,300 (S$3,100), including accommodation and meals (www.grasshopperadventures.com).
This big, wild, cool country is made for the outdoor life in general, and particularly cycling: it’s sparsely populated with clean air, awesome mountains, glacial lakes and rugged coastlines.
Package: ‘Adventure South’ is a moderately paced ten-day trip to the very southern tip of the South Island, finishing in Queenstown, home of bungee jumping.
Next departure: 1-10 November. The price of NZ$4,610 (S$4,584) includes most meals, accommodation, transfers and bike hire (www.advsouth.co.nz).
Wooded forests, wide valleys, dramatic mountains, not to mention all those fromageries, charcuteries, boulangeries and vineyards, ensure France remains firmly at the top of the list of Europe’s most popular biking destinations. It’s magnifique for all levels of cycling expertise and fitness, with its expanding network of voies vertes (green tracks) and, for the more serious cyclist, plenty of sportives (non-competitive events in which cyclists ride a road route). Pretty much any grade of trip is possible, including routes linking vineyards or châteaux for gastronomes and history buffs to testing alpine routes for thrill seekers.
Package: Cycling for Softies specialises in stylish, mainly self-guided cycling holidays in numerous regions across France; your package includes a four-course dinner each night. In the Cognac and Poitou-Charentes regions, for example, you can enjoy fine wines and, of course, brandy, as well as local cuisine. In between indulgences, pedal along quiet lanes and through quintessential villages. From £583 (S$1,241) per person for three nights, including accommodation, most meals and bike hire (www.cycling-for-softies.co.uk).
Tuscany: Chianti wine, delicious pasta, olive oil, truffles, sunshine…and a grand cycling tradition (bikers including Paolo Bettini and Michele Bartoli trained here). It’s one of those rare destinations that caters to fit both ambitious cyclists who like gruelling hill climbs, and groups who would rather stay in one base and use their bike as a means of gentle exercise between eating.
Package: From £194 (S$413) per person based on four people sharing Cherry Tree Villa for seven nights,
including airport transfer, self-catering accommodation and guide for one day, excluding bike hire (www.gustocycling.com).
When we think of Jordan, Indiana Jones swinging through Petra’s cavern of red rock immediately springs to mind. But there’s more to the country than that and a stopover in its ancient city is a must. Explore the memorial of Moses, ride through deserts and canyons, follow the ancient spice route, and head down to the lowest spot on Earth for a dip in the buoyant Dead Sea.
Package: Terhaal’s guided ten-day tours take place once a month and include meals and accommodation (but not bike hire), for US$1,990 (S$2,720). A 4x4 support vehicle is available at all times (www.terhaal.com).
This story first appeared as 'Blazing saddles' (Sep 2010).