By Glenn Baja
60 is the new 40! There’s no reason to put away the toys and settle for boring bus tours when you can explore many parts of the world by bicycle. A great cycling adventure lets you meet interesting people, explore new cultures, see new sights, and still ride your bike. Cycling adventures can be solo endeavors, or fully supported. In this post we will explore 6 world-class cycling adventures for older adults featuring the best supported tours, since many active adults tend to prefer the camaraderie that they forge with other people who share a sense of adventure. Plus it’s nice not to have to worry about logistics, luggage, or route-finding.
Wherever you want to explore, here are 6 world-class cycling adventures you will love!
1. The Danube
Fort Collins, Colorado-based ExperiencePlus! offers a 13-day, 526-mile ride through some of the most scenic and historically significant cities of central Europe. This ride was named by National Geographic Traveler as one of the “50 Tours of a Lifetime” and it’s suitable for nearly any ability level since the route is mostly flat and on paved bike paths. Because the company offers an e-bike option (electric bike), the Danube is a great tour to consider if you and your spouse or travel buddy aren’t at the same fitness level or cycling ability.
Details: $5,500, 13 days. Fully supported/guided by amazing local (bilingual) guides. Includes a titanium bike with an e-bike option, all accommodations, all breakfasts/half of your dinners, special tours and excursions, and more. Experience Plus offers many cycling tours throughout Europe, as well as a few in South America, North America, and a brand-new tour of Cuba.
Personal note: A friend of mine in her 50s has done 5 tours with Experience Plus… along with her sister and her parents (her parents have done 7 EP tours!) and she sings their praises to the moon and back!
2. Cape Town and the Garden Route
Exodus Travels operates cycling tours (some supported, some self-guided) worldwide. This popular tour takes cyclists along South Africa’s dramatic coastlines, from Port Elizabeth to Cape Town. It follows the famous Garden Route and cyclists will enjoy beaches, rainforests, charming towns, stunning canyons, rolling hills, vineyards, whales, and wildlife, along with the vibrant scene of Cape Town.
Details: $1885, 12 days. Fully supported tour with knowledgeable local guides, all breakfasts, accommodations, and more. The terrain is suitable for most cyclists. Does NOT include bicycle rental; bring your own.
Want to go exotic? Go to Bali. Backroads is one of the best-known tour companies offering luxury cycling, walking and hiking, and multi-adventure tours in 58 countries worldwide, and their Bali trip doesn’t disappoint. Cycle past rice paddies, sacred pools, temples, volcanic mountains and sandy beaches in this beautiful country steeped in Hindu spirituality.
Details: $4198, 8 days. Perfect if you don’t have 2 weeks, this tour includes titanium touring bikes, terrain suitable for most cyclists, all accommodations, experienced guides, special tours and excursions, and more.
Puglia is a region of Italy along the Adriatic coast. Butterfield & Robinson, whose slogan is “slow down to see the world” offers a beautiful luxury tour through Puglia’s sun-soaked villages, olive groves, rugged coastlines, UNESCO sites, rolling vineyards, and more. This recreational-level tour combines history, scenery, and of course the famous Italian cuisine and wine.
Details: $4495, 6 days. A great shorter tour if you want to do other activities while you’re in Europe. This tour offers accommodations, hybrid or racing bike, experienced guides, all breakfasts and most lunches and dinners, excursions/tours, and more.
5. The Katy Trail
A little closer to home, the Katy Trail, America’s longest “rails-to-trails” project lets you explore the Missouri River from St. Charles to Clinton, MO. The tour is operated by Road Scholar, a company that specializes in cycling for older adults – but more than just a bike trip, Road Scholar trips (as the name suggests) offer expert-led educational sessions on the fascinating history of the Katy Trail and the region. The Katy Trail winds along the Missouri River with beautiful bluffs, dense forests, rolling prairies, and historic towns.
Details: $1249, 8 days. Includes all accommodations, most meals, expert-led lectures and field trips, and more. Does NOT include bicycle rental in the price; bring your own or rent from Road Scholar. Due to the shorter distance (188 miles total) and relatively flat terrain, this tour is suitable for nearly everyone.
Just imagine the stirring sound of bagpipes in the distance as you cycle through the Scottish countryside! Cycle along with Discovery Bicycle Tours through Scotland’s romantic-yet-brooding castles, deep lochs, wooded glens, lovely winding country roads through ancient villages, dramatic cliffs and wild seascapes. This trip through time treats you to all things Scottish: the landscape, the food, the music, and of course the heather-covered moors. This tour features easy-to-intermediate terrain.
Details: $2995, 7 days. This tour includes a ferry to the Isle of Mull, use of hybrid or racing bike, guides, accommodations, breakfasts and dinners, castle visits and excursions, and more.
When you’re choosing a tour, consider:
- Duration: many tours are only one week long, to accommodate working people; but if you’re retired, you have the option of longer tours. Don’t forget, you’ll need to factor in travel to and from the tour (usually one day on either end to Europe, and a day-and-a-half to destinations farther away).
- Should you bring your bike, or rent? Not all companies offer bikes as an inclusion, or even optional bike rentals. While traveling with your bike is an additional expense, if you love your bike and don’t want the hassle of riding an unfamiliar steed, you can always bring your own.
- Dietary restrictions. Americans are used to gluten free, dairy free, low-fat, decaf, vegetarian or other restrictions, but don’t expect that to be the case in other parts of the world. While the tour company will do their best to accommodate you during the included meals, you may find your lunch or on-your-own dinner choices more limited, especially in more remote areas.
- Your map-reading ability. Many tour companies use “cue sheets” (either marked maps, or printed directions) to guide cyclists to their next destination. Expect the group to be strung out with the faster riders up front and the more leisurely riders bringing up the rear – so if you aren’t comfortable reading a map, consider a company that uses freshly-applied chalk arrows each day (such as ExperiencePlus!) to take the guesswork out of which way to turn next.
These are 6 world-class cycling adventures for older adults who are looking for an active vacation. Each company listed here is top-quality; you will enjoy a cycling trip of a lifetime. People tend to fall in love with touring with a certain company and end up exploring with that company for many years. The world is your 2-wheeled playground… so make sure your passport is up to date, pack your gear, and go see the world on two wheels!