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What makes a bike trip a dream trip? That’s a question with a thousand answers depending on your experience, ability, and interests. For a beginning cyclist, it might mean a first two-hour ride.
An average rider may dream of completing a first century or climbing a significant mountain pass. More advanced cyclists can contemplate a multi-day trip through the Alps or the Rockies. Adventurous types we’ve known have tackled challenges like riding to the Mount Everest Base Camp at 17,000 feet elevation or traversing the Americas from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego.
Today, there are more companies that organize bike trips than ever. Here are 10 trips we’d love to take in 2023.
Trek Travel: Crater Lake & Oregon Cascades
This is a good choice for a first fully guided trip. Trek Travel is celebrating its 20th anniversary, organizing trips to 14 countries and more than 20 U.S. states. After shuttling from Redmond Airport to Crater Lake National Park, this five-day tour opens with a 35-mile afternoon ride around the perimeter of what is one of the world’s deepest and most scenic bodies of water. For $3,700 per person, the package includes use of a Trek Domane SL 7 disc or a Verve+ e-bike, along with four night’s hotel accommodation, two guides, support van, most meals and two happy hours. And every day on the journey north through Oregon, there are up to three route options, the longest being 73 miles (and 6,000 feet of climbing) on the penultimate day from Sisters over McKenzie Pass to Belknap Springs and back. With stunning views of the Cascade Range, the cosmopolitan fun of Bend and staying at both rustic and boutique hotels, this has the makings of a perfect vacation. One newcomer said: “My first trip with Trek Travel and it was a trip of a lifetime!”
Pure Adventures: Vail to Aspen
Named one of the best cycling tour companies in the 2021 USA Today Readers’ Choice Awards, Pure Adventures has almost three decades of organizing trips on four continents. Perhaps the most challenging of its domestic tours is in the Rocky Mountains, with a week of riding in terrain made famous by the Coors Classic, USA Pro Challenge and Colorado Classic stage races. The first few days include climbs to Beaver Creek and Vail Pass (which is on the 78-mile Copper Triangle with 6,000 feet of elevation gain). Day 6 also has a heavy dose of climbing out and back from Snowmass Village, including the uphill from Aspen to Maroon Lake and views of the iconic, snow-crested Maroon Bells. Cost for the trip, which includes six hotel overnights, most meals and sag support, starts at $3,850. One Canadian customer said: “I have not stopped telling my friends how great the whole trip was. We will be back!”
Backroads: Through Chile’s Ring of Fire
Established 43 years ago, Backroads operates in more than 50 countries with biking, hiking and multi-adventure trips. One of the company’s most exotic bike trips is a seven-day tour in the national parks of Chile in that country’s summer months of January and March. The rides go through a pristine landscape of snow-capped volcanoes and lava fields (part of the Pacific Ring of Fire), virgin rain forests, waterfalls and lakes. The trip starts with two nights in Puerto Varas, the “city of roses,” which his become the “it” place of Chile with views across a lake to the spectacular, 8,700-foot-high Osorno volcano. This trip will appeal to a range of cyclists, with the longest ride being 59 miles and 4,000 feet of climbing. One American client said: “We are beginner-ish bikers and managed great!” Prices for the week start at $6,500.
Garda Bike Hotel: Strade Bianche + Lake Garda
This will be a dream trip for any competitive cyclist, with amazing highlights: riding the Gran Fondo Strade Bianche after watching the finish of the pro race in Siena the day before. A great option would be to start with three nights at the company’s four-star hotel on Lake Garda, acclimating to Italy in springtime and training for the gran fondo. Then comes a three-hour transfer to Tuscany for four nights just outside Siena. There are guided group rides daily before the gran fondo on Sunday, March 5, 2023. The long course of 142.5 kilometers features 54.7 kilometers of the iconic white roads, while the 86.8 kilometer alternative incudes “only” 21.6 kilometers of strade bianche. Price depends on choosing the four-day or seven-day package, but all options include the rental of a Pinarello Grevil bike. And the food and wines of Tuscany are out of this world. “The best bike trip I’ve ever been on,” one client said. “An experience for a lifetime,” said another.
Go4Cycling: Flanders Week (Flanders & Roubaix)
If you can’t make it to Strade Bianche, then this Belgian company offers an outstanding 10-day Flanders Week package, which includes riding the Tour of Flanders bergs and Paris–Roubaix cobblestones, along with VIP spectating at those two monuments. Participants will be picked up on March 31 from Brussels airport and shuttled to their 4-star hotel in Kortrijk (where some of the ProTour teams also stay) for the entirety of this 2023 trip. From $3,750, the price includes 10 nights in Kortrijk; most meals (except lunch); support vehicles, group leaders, ride guides and a mechanic; visits to cycling museums; and those VIP experiences at the cobbled classics. Rental of BMC race bikes and entry to the Flanders Cyclo and Roubaix Challenge are extras. One participant said: “Go4Cycling are pros, they are Belgians, cyclists leading cyclists…what more could you want? Waffles? Frites? Leffe?”
Grand Tours Project: Riding Week 3 of the 2023 Giro
As an Official Tour Operator of the Giro d’Italia, the Grand Tours Project has unprecedent access to the race routes and the stage finishes. Depending on your cycling ability (and strength!), this well-established company offers weeklong trips that include riding every kilometer of each Giro stage or a more rider-friendly version in which you do up to 100 kilometers a day. The final week of the 2023 Giro, May 22–29, is the most spectacular (and will be the most decisive), featuring the epic climbs of Monte Bondone, the Tre Cime di Lavaredo and the Monte Lussari time trial. A high-speed train will take participants to the final stage in Rome, where they will ride two laps of the day’s race circuit before having their photos taken on the winners’ podium. The week’s package starts at just under $5,000. A rider who experienced a similar Week 3 trip in 2022, said this after one challenging day through the Dolomites: “Soaked, tired and satisfied, we arrive at the finish and gratefully jump into our support car. With the heating and our favorite Van Morrison album on, we drive to our next hotel, realizing we might just have lived our most epic day on the bike…. Viva Il Giro!”
Ride & Seek: Most Beautiful Tour (Provence + Ventoux)
Australian tour operator Ride & Seek Bicycle Adventures, established 10 years ago, runs bike trips through 30 countries in all five continents. This coming year (June 6 to 13), the company is offering something different with what it calls its “most beautiful tour” from its European base in Provence for just under $4,500. Hosted by Mike Tomalaris, the Aussie TV commentator who has been covering the Tour de France for three decades, this is an ideal trip for couples. More experienced cyclists can go on extra loops, even up Mont Ventoux, while non-riders will have daily activities to keep them busy, while all can enjoy gourmet dining accompanied by the region’s vintage wines. Besides visits to famed towns like Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, the tour routes encompass many of France’s most beautiful villages. One Ride & Seek customer said: “An awesome blend of cycling challenges, drop-dead scenery and gastronomic experience.”
Thomson Bike Tours: Epic Trans Cantabrian Mountains
Founded by Peter Thomson 21 years ago, this U.S. company has been rated No. 1 Official Tour de France Premium Tour Operator. But besides providing clients with an up-close-and-personal experience of the world’s biggest bike race, it also offers more than 15 annual trips called Epic Trans-Challenges, which traverse various mountain ranges, averaging up to 120 kilometers and 10,000 feet of climbing per day. Perhaps the most challenging is the Epic Trans Cantabrian Mountains in northwest Spain. The mid-August 2023 edition costs from $4,495 for seven nights; those not bringing their own bikes can rent a Felt FR Advanced bike at $500 for the week. The last three days of riding feature the spectacular Lagos de Covadonga, a 158-kilometer ride through Asturias and the iconic Alto El Angliru—regarded as the toughest climb in pro cycling. As one Thomson client put it: “Trans-Cantabria will surprise the most seasoned cyclist with its amazing landscapes, culminating in an epic ride (and most likely partial walk) up the indescribable Angliru.”
DuVine: Switzerland Journey (Lake Geneva to Lake Como)
With two dates in late June and mid-August, this weeklong ride through the Swiss Alps contains much of what makes Switzerland such a spectacular country for cycling. It’s organized by Duvine Cycling + Adventure, which was founded 26 years ago and operates in more than 20 countries. This is one of its most challenging and memorable trips, with prices from $5,095 for seven hotel nights, most meals and local wines included, along with use of a Cannondale Synapse Carbon Disc Ultegra Di2 bike. Each day’s journey is point-to-point with up to 10,000 feet of climbing. Highlights include what many consider the most beautiful climb in the Alps, the 10-kilometer, 9-percent Grosse Scheidegg, on a perfectly paved one-lane road that is closed to other traffic. There’s also a climb on smooth gravel to the remote Gurnigel Pass and an ascent to the challenging, but little-known Mittelberg where you hear “just the sound of clanging cowbells.” One cyclist who experienced a DuVine tour in the Alps said: “It was tough (in a good way)…best experience of my life.”
InGamba: Portugal End to End
This California-based company chose to call itself InGamba (Italian slang for “in the know”) because it wanted to create trips that were designed to not only discover magnificent cycling in places all over the world but also get into the fabric of the countries, embracing the food, wine and culture as presented by locals. InGamba founder João Correia is a former Portuguese pro racer, so you can be sure that the bike trip from the north of Portugal to the very south along the Estrada Nacional 2 is one of the best, passing through regions little known by traditional tourists. The cost of the September 2023 tour is high at $8,450 but it includes all lodging, food and beverages, use of a Pinarello Dogma bike, custom Castelli clothing, and daily post-ride massage and bike wash. The distance over six days is 754 kilometers; the longest day is 163 kilometers and total climbing is over 10,000 meters (almost 33,000 feet). One client said: “You will immerse into the week so perfectly that you will forget all the pressures of life…and come out the other end refreshed.”