Travel by bike. It's no longer just a holiday for extreme cyclists. Bike tours are becoming more and more popular, and some tour operators have specialized in them.
Smooth asphalt and a sensational sea view. The scent of thyme fills your nostrils and sweat drips from your forehead. Road cycling on Mallorca is exhausting, but for most amateur athletes one thing above all: a great bike tour.
But it doesn't just have to be the tough training camp on the Spanish island. Many organizers have long been offering cycle tours for nature lovers who don't want to train hard.
"The trend is towards individual tours," says Barbara Merz-Weigandt. Long distances can be covered by bicycle. "But the travelers are slow enough to take in the surroundings with all their smells and people, a great feeling. That's the beauty of cycling holidays," says the editor-in-chief of "MyBike", a magazine for everyday and touring cyclists.
A bike tour not only offers fascinating nature experiences, but also a new area every day. "This is perhaps the most beautiful way of traveling. And those who book such tours individually can set their own pace and, ideally, the length of the stages," says travel journalist Stefan Schwenke. The luggage can find its place on the bike or is transported for the guest to the next hotel - also ideal for racing cyclists.
"In the case of individual trips, the traveler can usually book a tailor-made tour through the tour operator," says Kathleen Lumma. "In the case of group trips, on the other hand, he has to adapt to the group," says the managing director of the ADFC state association in Baden-Württemberg. Group trips are rarer than individual trips.
There are now offers and providers of cycle tours for riders of racing bikes, mountain bikes, trekking bikes or e-bikes. These include: Huerzeler, Quäldich, Wikinger-Reisen, DAV Summit Club, Margreiter, Eitzinger Sports, Biketeam Radreisen, Bike Adventure Tours, Inselhopping or Radweg-Reisen.
In addition to the tour operators specializing in cycle tours, route operators often offer tours that maintain and market a cycle path themselves. On its website radurlaub-online.de, the ADFC provides an overview of various tour operators, plus tips for bikes, tours and transport.
"The offer is large. Classics such as river routes or racing bike training on Mallorca are popular - but you can go on cycle tours on almost every continent," says Stefan Schwenke. "From Africa to Asia, the only limits are the condition and maybe the budget."
Guided Alpine crossings and stage tours in Europe are popular. It doesn't have to be a hardcore trip across the Alps either, there are all kinds. For example, some providers also offer trips with different levels of difficulty as a twin concept.
"If a partner wants to drive slower or less, they simply choose the shorter or easier route," says Schwenke. "You see each other again in the evening at the stage destination. This way, both get their money's worth and can still enjoy the holiday together."
For Barbara Merz-Weigandt, a good cycle tour must be a mixture of sport, culture and cuisine. "Anyone can travel by bike, especially in Germany and Europe. Many organizers offer a suitable tour for every ability level and for almost every taste," she says. There are great tours all over the world. "Basically, one can say that the more exotic the tour, the more important it is to have a guide who knows the region in question," says Barbara Merz-Weigandt.
"But you have to find out for yourself what is important to you," says Schwenke. "Just get advice from a travel agency or browse the internet. It's incredibly exciting what you can find and which areas you can discover by bike."
Kathleen Lumma sees a big difference in the preferences of cyclists. For racing cyclists and mountain bikers, the focus is on the sport with fitness and technique development, often in groups. During these sports trips, cyclists often prepare for the coming season. "Trekking tours are more about consciously experiencing a journey in nature. Such tours can often be combined with a cultural offer," says Kathleen Lumma.
The nice thing about it is that this type of travel is possible for a very broad target group. "The route and level of difficulty can be individually adjusted, even circular tours and tours for the whole family are possible," says Lumma.
Before booking, those who are interested should consider how demanding the route can be, says Schwenke. Decisive for choosing the right tour: a realistic assessment of the route to be traveled. After all, it's supposed to be a holiday trip.
Depending on their ability and route, cyclists can comfortably cover up to 50 kilometers a day, with an e-bike up to 70 kilometers. "But it depends on the preferences of the tour. If you prefer to take an extended break, you drive less per day overall," says Merz-Weigandt. Depending on the tour operator, travelers receive GPX files for their bike sat nav or a road book, and a transporter takes care of their luggage to the next accommodation.
For beginners, Kathleen Lumma recommends cycling regularly before the tour and choosing a guided beginner's tour for a few days for the first trip. Sitting on the bike for several days in a row is unusual for many holidaymakers.
"There is a guide with you who can give lots of tips. On a tour with a base camp, you can also take a day's break without having to follow the whole group afterwards," she says.
"Anyone who otherwise only rides their bike once a year should do a few laps at home beforehand and plan for shorter stages," says Schwenke. "Then the tour is more fun and you don't put yourself under pressure."
Barbara Merz-Weigandt advises to pay attention to whether and how the bike will start before planning. "An e-bike may not be transported by plane. If a rental bike is needed, travelers should inquire about the model beforehand," she says.
Help with the question "own bike or rental bike?" gives Stefan Schwenke. That depends on your own bike and how you get there: "Anyone who has a good bike at home usually doesn't want to do without it during the holidays. And if the starting point is easy to reach, most people take their own bike with them," he says . "For long-distance trips, a good rental bike is a good idea, it's just more comfortable."
But with a brand new bike, travelers shouldn't go on a longer tour right away. "Each bike drives, steers and brakes differently. Owners have to get used to that slowly," says Kathleen Lumma. Especially before the first big holiday tour.