Guest writer: David Ryan
The 2012 London Olympics were supposed to inspire a generation and leave a lasting legacy. Time will tell whether that happens but I know they certainly inspired me. On the back of the success of the since-knighted Sir Bradley Wiggins, the already-knighted Sir Chris Hoy and the many other cyclists who perhaps aren’t yet ready to become knights of the realm, I bought a shiny new bike to replace the rusty metal construct that sat alone in the garage on two deflated rubber circles. And what’s even more surprising is the fact that I actually use it.
I started off gently, not having exercised regularly for far too long, but after a few weeks I was soon able to go out for a good hour or so and the improvements in my physical health and wellbeing were remarkable. The old adage is apparently true: you really don’t forget how to ride a bike, and from someone who isn’t the most co-ordinated at the best of times and hadn’t placed my buttocks on a bicycle seat at all for six years that’s saying something.
Partly to celebrate losing a stone off the belly and partly just because it really appealed I decided to book a cycling holiday, something that would have been as strange as booking a trip to Somalia to go skiing just a few months earlier. We researched plenty of options and then, on the recommendation of a friend, checked out Headwater.com and were really impressed.
What stands out the most about Headwater is that there really is something for everyone. I held a preconception that a cycling holiday would mean roughing it, long painful days, a combination of sunstroke one day then hours in the rain the next and that anyone who partook in such a trip would be a complete expert and cycling nut. My friend reassured me that wasn’t the case but checking out the website I was pleasantly surprised to learn my friend was telling me the truth, which was perhaps a first.
We decided to go for one of their Holland cycling holidays, primarily because it looked like one of the easiest! With famously flat terrain, a gentle climate, locals who speak better English than many of my friends and, so I learned, some of the safest roads in Europe for cyclists, it seemed a great option for a beginner like me.
However, I also discovered that cycling holidays could be done in the sorts of places I hadn’t even considered. I’d wanted to go to Croatia for some time having heard so much about its beauty despite its war-torn past but would never have thought of it as a decent option for a cycling trip, which was a tad naïve to say the least.
Another place steeped in history that appealed greatly was Jordan, which I also found was a popular cycling destination. With the roads not quite as smooth as those of Holland and the weather considerably hotter Jordan might have to be one for next time. But the thought of cycling round the rose stone city at Petra or the dramatic dunes of Wadi Rum is one that excites me greatly.
There are also, of course, great places to go cycling closer to home, with Britain offering plenty in the way of wonderful scenery, whilst France, Spain and Italy are all within easy reach on a budget flight. So many places lend themselves to being discovered on two wheels that there really is no limit.
Whether you like natural beauty, wildlife, history, great cities, fine wines, opulent food and accommodation to match all tastes, there is always a cycling trip to suit. What’s more, the holiday can be tailored according to your budget, fitness, confidence and preferred style of travel. So what are you waiting for? Get on your bike!