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Bicycle tourism: never without my bike

As an icon of eco-tourism, the bicycle is on the up-and-up. It’s cheap, environmentally friendly and has become the preferred mode of transport for many tourists who have voted it best travel companion.
From the picturesque charm of leisurely bicycle rides, to the healthy fatigue that follows a mountain biking ramble, nothing will revitalize your holidays like the bicycle! In this article we provide some practical tips for the switched-on bicycle tourist.
The icon of green tourism
Bicycle touring is in tune with the Slow Movement, which promises to slow down the pace of our lives, and is increasingly popular with travelers.  Travelling on two wheels rather than by train or car, means you can blend into the landscape… and take the time to admire it.  Bicycle tourists can set their own pace and stop at a whim to enjoy their surroundings: take a plunge in river, watch a herd of cows napping, visit a welcoming farm, etc.  Have you ever tried to stop a train so you could admire the sunset?
What is more, a growing number of tourists also want to preserve their planet.  So travelling by bicycle is also sometimes a way of taking a stand and reducing your CO2 emissions by an average of 0.2kg per kilometer, unlike car journeys.  What is more, the cycle routes benefit locals, developing local tourism that is also environmentally friendly.  Bicycle touring is therefore perfectly in line with the trend for green tourism or eco-tourism.
Cycle tourists preserve nature and nature certainly repays them well… with all the benefits lots of fresh air brings! People who dream of revitalizing holidays should get themselves a bicycle. Instantly their holidays will be more sporty, scenic and original.  Tourists can of course rent a bicycle once they’ve reached their destination, whether the latter is a favorite with bicycle tourists or not.  Indeed, you can go anywhere on a bicycle: explore a city, the countryside, the mountain or the seaside.
The world by bicycle
Whether you’re an amateur or an experienced bicycle tourist, you can choose whatever type of bike suits your fancy!  In town, some will prefer the charm of bicycles with a practical basket. In fact in many cities, bicycles are now available for inhabitants to encourage the use of this environmentally friendly transport. Tourists would be wrong not to take advantage of this. Straddle a Citi Bike in New York, a Vélib’ in Paris, a Bixi in Montreal, a YouBike in Taipei, a Bike Rio in Rio, etc. You’ll be able to experience these cities like the locals!
In Europe, two cities are fighting it out to win the title of cycling capital of Europe: Copenhagen in Denmark, and Amsterdam in the Netherlands. You will understand before you even land in Copenhagen when you spot the electric blue cycle paths that crisscross the city from your airplane window. And when you go to Amsterdam, the French nickname “la petite reine” (the little queen) affectionately used to refer to a bicycle since the 19th century, will make complete sense… because the Netherlands is the only country in the world where there are more bicycles than inhabitants. Don’t forget to opt for a guided tour of the city by bike – you’ll get the best view from your bicycle saddle!
Others prefer to be out in the open enjoying nature. The world is their oyster! All over the world there are splendid biking tours.  In Europe, a vast network of cycle paths is being built. By 2020, the EuroVelo network will have over 14 cycle routes covering a total of 70,000 km. You’re also bound to meet plenty of fellow cycle tourists in Latin America! This is very handy if you want to find out more about the next stopovers on your route from others who have been through them before you. Be sure to take care on the often steep routes like the famous Carretera Austral, in Chili. This road cuts through the country from North to South, and several parts of it have no tarmac, are bumpy and above all very narrow.
This time, instead of a city bike, prefer a practical solid, but not necessarily heavy bicycle. It should be a road bike if you are going to choose small paths and a mountain bike if you are venturing off the beaten track. Whatever you do, be prepared for any situation and don’t forget the vital equipment: tire iron, patches, inner tube, pump, etc.
It’s a smooth ride for everyone!
Many couples decide to go on biking holidays together.  There’s a lot to be enjoyed together, even though sometimes tensions can arise, as was the case for Marion and Virgile, who went on a 15-month trek from Canada to Tierra del Fuego in Argentina. “It’s mostly external factors that sapped our morale and led to disagreements between us (…) When you’re a bit angry with your partner, then, one of you is 150 meters ahead, and the one that’s behind thinks about what happened, broods and eventually comes to the conclusion that it was all ludicrous (…) and that in any case we’re going to end up in the same tent.” For short distances and to give physical expression to their love, the most romantic will choose to travel on a tandem. But, remember, no arguments!
Others prefer to travel alone. Before travelling with Marion in America, Virgile Charlot crossed Africa alone, cycling from Morocco to Cape Town in South Africa. In his book, Le Tropique du Bayanda (Arthaud, 2012), he tells the story of this adventure, which he left a good job to go on, and through which he discovered an entire continent: its people, landscapes, warmth, dangers and treasures.
For the most dangerous trips, the extreme bicycle tours, it’s often best to travel with an organized group, so that you can enjoy the course without running too many a risks.
Bicycle tourists each choose their own trip format opting either for stop-overs in hotels if they want comfortable, restorative nights, or for camping with the essential a tent for nights in the open. Because they have a taste for adventure, it’s not rare for bicycle tourists to choose where they’ll spend the night from one day to the next.  They are often in for some excellent surprises, like being invited to stay with a local on one of the many encounters made on their cycle route.
Whatever the case, all bicycle tourists will doubtless agree with this Albert Einstein quote: “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” So, why wait to get onto the saddle?

NB: Article on hotel industry treds drafted by the AccorHotels Group’s communication department.


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