Who’s in need of a bit of sun as winter approaches? Take a look at these five options, with Freedom Treks

Earlier this year, a traffic survey by the City of London Corporation showed the number of cyclists commuting during the morning peak hour (8 am to 9 am) has more than doubled since 2007*.

Bicycles are a popular way to get to and from work, especially during summer; the weather is warm, rain is minimal and public transport can be stuffy. However, come winter, it can often be tough to brave the colder temperatures, dark mornings and wet, cloudy days.

To combat the winter blues, Freedom Treks (specialising in self-guided and guided bike tours across Europe and Asia) has come up with five trips to help motivate cyclists to continue pedalling and keep their fitness levels stable throughout the upcoming chillier months.

From the sparkling seas of Puglia and the volcanic landscape of Lanzarote, to the pink flamingos of Sicily and the floating markets of Vietnam, these tours have been designed to inspire, enthuse and keep everyone cycling. After all, there is nothing like braving the elements, building muscular endurance and burning more calories.

Puglia, Hotel & Bike

With its glistening grottos, sparkling seas and sandy beaches, Puglia offers cyclists a region rich in culture, history and gastronomy. Sun worshippers flock to the heel of south-east Italy during the summer holidays but come the end of September and October it is significantly quieter. As autumn begins, the average temperature is 17°C; ideal conditions for cycling and sightseeing. Beginning in Matera, which has been selected as the 2019 European Capital of Culture and is home to the intricate maze of caves known as ‘Sassi’, ride on and discover the ancient silver olive groves, characterful hilltop towns and unique coastal villages in Puglia. Pedal to the town of Alberobello, which dates back to the 16th century and is famous for its cluster of UNESCO-listed ‘trulli’ huts (a traditional Apulian dry stone hut with a conical roof). Take the train to the charming Baroque town of Lecce and bike along the south coast towards the impressive Habsburger Castle and its spectacular cathedral. After each active day in the saddle, stay at a mixture of three- and four-star hotels and even spend a few nights at a traditional ‘trullo’ hotel. Level: Easy to Moderate A seven night Puglia Hotel & Bike tour, departing in October 2018, costs from £680 pp (for two people sharing a twin room). Price includes accommodation, breakfast every day, luggage transportation, maps, GPS Tracks and route information and the train from Ostuni-Lecce. Return flights, transfers, bike hire and cycle helmets extra.
Freedom Treks (01273 224 066, www.freedomtreks.co.uk)

Sicily – Baroque Routes

Pedal past vast orange and lemon plantations, over green, rolling hills and through deep canyons carved by fast-flowing rivers on this exciting self-guided tour in south-east Sicily. Warm winds from Africa blow across the Mediterranean and onto the Italian island, meaning temperatures can still reach 22°C during the day, making cycling conditions very pleasant. Leave the bikes and hike in the Anapo Valley, discovering famous ruins at Pantalica, where more than 5,000 tombs are carved into the rocks; cycle to the UNESCO city of Ragusa, where a jumble of houses and churches cling to the walls of a rocky gorge, and cross the bridge to the island of Ortigia and wander through the winding alleys before dining at one of the local restaurants. Try authentic almond cake, fresh seafood pasta and an assortment of excellent wine. Wildlife lovers can also make an optional stop at Vendicari Nature Reserve, home to pink flamingos, pintails and storks. Level: Moderate A seven night Sicily – Baroque Routes Hotel & Bike tour, departing in October or November 2018, costs from £1,001 pp (two sharing). Price includes staying at three-star agriturismi hotels and a farm, breakfast every day plus two evening meals, luggage transportation, maps, GPS Tracks and route information and a transfer on arrival day from Catania airport to Anapo Valley. Return flights, transfers, bike hire and cycle helmets extra.
Freedom Treks (01273 224 066, www.freedomtreks.co.uk)

Madeira, Hotel & Bike

Explore the sub-tropical island of Madeira, which still sees highs of 17°C and plenty of sunshine towards winter. The spectacular Portuguese island sits off the coast of Africa, just above the Canary Islands, and stays colourful all year round with countless exotic flowers. Although this destination is renowned for walking holidays, its quiet roads, coastal paths and incredible views make it an ideal destination to explore on two wheels. Look out for sugar cane mills on Porto da Cruz, marvel at the 400,000-year-old grottos in the village of Sao Vicente and ascend to Europe’s highest cape (Cape Girao) and stand on a glass platform suspended 580 metres above the sea. Spend a day off the bike and ride, in a cable car, to the hilltop village of Monte, where grand quintas, the pilgrimage church and the Monte Palace Botanical garden can be found. The steepest and longest climbs are softened with transfers, meaning more people can take part in this exhilarating tour. Level: Moderate to Challenging A seven night Madeira Hotel & Bike tour, departing in October, November and December 2018, costs from £706 pp (two sharing). Price includes staying at four-star hotels and one two-star hotel, breakfast every day, welcome meeting, luggage transportation, maps, GPS Tracks and route information, some bus transfers and a return cable-car journey from Funchal to Monte. Return flights, bike hire and cycle helmets extra.
Freedom Treks (01273 224 066, www.freedomtreks.co.uk)

Lanzarote – Land of the Volcanoes

Often referred to as the island of 1,000 volcanoes, six years of eruptions between 1730 to 1736 have created a unique, lunar landscape covered in craters, canyons and cones. Lanzarote’s temperatures soar most of the year; even in December, guests can enjoy more than 20°C on most days and very little rain. Beginning in Costa Teguise, explore most of the rugged island by bike, learning about the history, culture and gastronomy en route. Visit the volcanic cave of La Cueva de los Verdes, admire the beautiful beach of Famara with the spectacular backdrop of volcanic cliffs and explore the Parque Nacional de Timanfaya, where Lanzarote’s volcanic nature is at its most impressive. Towards the end of the tour, cycle into the dramatic hills of Femés before heading to the wine country of La Geria, where many fine and unique wines are produced in the unusual countryside. Level: Moderate A seven night Lanzarote – Land of the Volcanoes Hotel & Bike tour, departing October, November and December 2018, costs from £874 pp (two sharing). Price includes staying at three, four and five-star hotels and B&Bs, breakfast every day, luggage transportation and maps, GPS Tracks and route information. Return flights, bike hire and cycle helmets extra.
Freedom Treks (01273 224 066, www.freedomtreks.co.uk)

Bangkok to Ho Chi Minh

Cycle through three of south-east Asia’s most exciting countries on this two-week adventure, which begins in Bangkok, Thailand, continues into Cambodia and ends in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam. Although temperatures in south-east Asia remain pretty consistent and warm throughout the year, it’s the lack of rainfall in winter that makes it an ideal time to visit. Escape England’s grey skies and pedal along the gulf of Thailand with fantastic views of the cobalt-blue ocean, cross the border into Cambodia and visit the iconic temples of the Bayon, Ta Prohm and The Elephant Terrace, and board a boat and sail down the magnificent Mekong River into Vietnam. Experience the remarkable floating markets of Can Tho, where fruits, vegetables and other goods are bartered for, exchanged and bought on the water. Don’t leave without exploring the vibrant city of Ho Chi Minh, taking in the former Presidential Palace, Ben Thanh Market and the French Quarter. Throughout the tour tuck into fresh seafood, fragrant noodles and local beer, plus try a number of more exotic dishes such as snake, durian and even scorpion… Level: Moderate A 14 night Bangkok to Ho Chi Minh Hotel & Bike tour, departing in November and December 2018 and January 2019 costs from £3,055 pp (two sharing). Price includes staying at three-to-five-star hotels on a full-board basis (aside from five meals), service of a local English-speaking guide in each country, air-conditioned support vehicle, transfers during the tour, luggage transportation, water and snacks while riding, all entry costs and attractions listed on the itinerary, bike hire, cycling jersey and water bottle. Return flights, transfers, visa, alcohol, soft drinks and cycle helmets extra.
Freedom Treks (01273 224 066, www.freedomtreks.co.uk)

*https://www.bikebiz.com/landscape/traffic-in-the-city-2018

To find out more about any of these tours visit www.freedomtreks.co.uk, call 01273 224 066 or follow Freedom Treks on Facebook (Freedom Treks).

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