Olympic cycling legends have inspired families to opt for active holidays on two wheels. Jeremy Gates reports
The triumph of Britain’s cyclists at London’s 2012 Olympics, led by Sir Bradley Wiggins, has produced a surge in demand for cycling holidays in the UK, Europe and worldwide.
A Sky TV survey, with research by the London School of Economics, found thousands of people have started cycling for fun with family and friends, while even 70 per cent of non-cyclists think Team GB’s success will have a lasting legacy. Almost 50 per cent of cyclists asked in the poll have joined mass cycle rides, partly inspired by the Olympics.
If 2012 was the year of the bike, then 2013 is the year of the biking holiday.
James Adkin at Explore, an adventure holiday specialist, says: “Over the past few years, people have realised they don’t have to be a professional cyclist to enjoy a cycling holiday.
“Increasing numbers want healthier and greener lifestyles, so cycling holidays have been growing in popularity. The boom in demand was lifted off by summer 2012 – who couldn’t be inspired by Sir Bradley Wiggins?
“On cycling holidays, you can really immerse yourself in local culture: you pass through tiny villages which can’t be accessed by bus, observe everyday scenes and meet locals along the way.”
At activity holiday specialist Macs Adventure, chief adventure officer Neil Lapping claims a 300 per cent surge in demand for cycling breaks in UK and Europe, against this time last year.
“It’s extraordinary,” he says. “In our 10 years in business, we’ve never seen growth like this. The ‘Wiggo’ effect has made cycling cool again.
“There is a general trend among people wanting more than fly and flop holidays. Nearly everyone can ride a bike, so cycling holidays are a great introduction to activity-based holidays.”
Sustrans, a charity operating a network of scenic, traffic-free cycle routes throughout the UK, confirms booming demand for trips based on routes in the North of England.
These include the Sea to Sea Cycle Route, from Cumbria to the Northumbrian Coast, Hadrian’s Wall Cycleway in the North East and Reivers Route in Cumbria. The Scottish Islands are also popular this year, with tours such as the Scottish Island Hopscotch selling well.
According to Macs Adventure, the top five cycling trips/routes for 2013 based on bookings to date are:
1. Danube Cycle Path, Passau-Vienna, Austria
2. Sea to Sea Cycle Route, northern England
3. Scottish Island Hopping
4. Provence: Villages and Landscapes Cycling
5. Cycling in the Loire Valley, France.