Category Archives: Skedaddle HQ Staff

Our team in the office is an enthusiastic bunch and alongside efficiently organising our vast range of cycling holidays they enjoy escaping for fun on their bikes too. Read on to discover their expert advice…

The lowdown on road cycling in Latin America

Our Road Cycling Product Manager and Tour Leader, David Hall has sampled many a road in his time and over the years he’s developed a strong passion for cycling further afield. He’ll regularly be found on his bike in Costa Rica and Colombia and is the envy of the Skedaddle office at Christmas when he’ll be off cycling tropical climes! Read on if you’re keen to discover more about Saddle Skedaddle’s road cycling opportunities in Latin America…

Long Haul VS Europe… How do they compare?
For me, and many other road cyclists for that matter, riding in the European mountains such as the Alps and Pyrenees is quite hard to beat. Here in Europe there is a huge cycling culture firmly engrained, as well as plenty of noteworthy, iconic mountains, made famous by the Tour de France and other famous races.

Whilst Europe might be considered by many to be the spiritual home of road cycling, it can’t claim exclusive rights on cycling culture. Many Central and South American countries also have long, rich histories in professional cycling and they also offer some superb riding opportunities including some enormous mountains, stunning scenery and seemingly endless miles of almost unexplored roads.

The professional riding scene is also very well-developed and Colombian and Costa Rican riders such as Nairo Quintana, Rigoberto Uran and Andrey Amador are pretty much household names for many British cycling fans. One great thing about offering trips in far flung destinations is that it allows us to extend the cycling season because come December, when most European mountain roads are covered in snow, we’re almost guaranteed perfect riding conditions.

What makes Latin America so appealing, do you think?
Well apart from the fantastic riding, I just love the general sense of energy – there’s a certain buzz and vibrancy that’s impossible to ignore. Music and dance are such an important part of Latin culture and having a good time seems to be very important to Latin people – it’s hard not get drawn into the party atmosphere.

What’s your favourite long haul destination?
To be honest, each of our three Latin American cycling destinations have their own unique attractions, so it’s hard to pick a favourite.

If I’m pushed I would opt for Colombia. Cycling is as ingrained in the Colombian culture as it is in any European destination and we enjoy the company of local riders out on the roads every day. The scenery is very dramatic and the climbing is unrivalled. One of the highlights of our tour is the ascent of Alto De Letras, at around 52 miles it is reputed to be the longest climb in the world and it is certainly one of the more challenging rides in the Skedaddle portfolio. Colombia is the only place I know where you can spend an entire day tackling a single climb!

Then there’s Costa Rica – one of the most biodiverse countries on the planet. It’s a tiny country accounting for 0.03% of the earth’s surface yet home to 6% of the world’s biodiversity. I just love the way that the nature comes to us as we ride through the country as we travel from the Caribbean coast to the Pacific. There aren’t many places on earth where you can cross a continent in less than 2 weeks.

Finally our Chile and Argentina tour provides a totally different experience and a unique landscape. The snow-capped volcanoes and towering monkey puzzle trees feel worlds away from the tropical climes of Costa Rica and Colombia. It isn’t without challenges but it is a slightly more gentle tour and as such it’s a great destination for anyone looking to cut their teeth in the region.

Have you got any advice for people looking to travel to Latin America?
I always think it’s a good idea, if you have the time, to try and arrive a day or two before the start of a trip to allow for a little recovery from the long journey and to adjust to the different climate – I’m not very keen on jumping on a bike when I’m still jet-lagged. Another consideration, specifically when travelling to Colombia, is that we spend quite a few days at high altitude – again arriving a day or so early to start the acclimatisation process is a great idea and we always encourage riders to listen to their bodies and take it easy during the first couple of stages.



 Are there any aspects of long haul travel that cyclists are often concerned about? 
We sometimes get questions about security and some folks express concerns that some countries might not be safe to explore. My response to this is simply that we wouldn’t ever offer a trip if we thought it was dangerous to do so – we have absolutely no interest in putting our customers or our staff at risk, it just doesn’t make sense. Of course we expect everyone who joins us to exercise common sense, as we have to in all the destinations that we visit but we’ve been leading tours in South and Central America for well over 20 years and our experiences have only ever been positive … that speaks volumes.

Any parting thoughts?
If you fancy something slightly different, give it a go! I’ve been putting trips together and leading tours in these destinations for years now and they still feel as fresh and exciting as they did the first time around. Even now these are still pioneering tours and on the occasions when we divert from our usual routes and visit new towns and villages, we still find that we are amongst the first, if not the only, foreign tourists to have passed through on two wheels – few destinations can make such a claim these days.

For those keen to sample Latin America on a road bike, we have three fantastic holidays to choose from: Colombia, Costa Rica or Chile and Argentina.

Charging Into The Sunset

Skedaddle designer Helen Wallis gives us a brief overview of her recent experience riding the Via Francigena from Tuscany to Rome on an electric bike (ebike). Find out how she got on…

‘I think it’s fair to say that like many folk, I’m a fair weather cyclist but really love getting out on my bike. However, as the years have gone by I’ve found that it’s becoming harder to keep up with cycling friends that ride in all weathers and never seem to be off their bikes! So when I spotted the option of an electric bike for my upcoming Skedaddle trip, I jumped at the chance! 

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To be honest, I didn’t really know what to expect. Would it be difficult to ride? Would it be powerful enough to ride all day and get me to my destination and enable me to keep up with my friends? Well, I needn’t have worried, in fact after my week on an ebike, or more to the point a pedal assisted bike, I’m a true convert. 

In fact I’ve become a bit of an ebike evangelist and here are a few reasons why:

It’s as simple as riding a bike! Gears, brakes and handling are just as you’d expect, however at the flick of a switch your super powers kick in, it’s amazing!

 Confidence giving. An ebike allows you to stop to admire the view, take a selfie, delete the selfie and take a nice picture, safe in the knowledge you will not get left behind.

 Make mountains into molehills.  Whatever your ability you can simply just dial up the power for the odd (or every) hill.

 You still get fit. My Skedaddle ebike was pedal assisted so I could simply ride along in ‘eco mode’, the lowest setting or any one of the other 3 levels of assistance depending on the terrain and how I felt.

 It goes for miles. My ebike easily covered over 30 miles a day on the trip and often still had half of its charge left. And when the cycling was over I simply plugged the battery in to charge in my room before going out for supper.

 It’s fun to ride! It gave me the chance to sit back and relax and take in the scenery. And when my fellow cyclists occasionally ran out of puff, I still had the energy to keep on talking – great for me – less so for them!

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Interestingly, after a few days of gentle teasing (and a cracking new nickname ‘Duracell Bunny’), everyone on the trip was keen to have a go on my ebike. There were plenty of big grins and even the odd cry of amazement at the level of assistance it provided on all types of trail and surface and especially on the hills.

So, the bottom line is whatever your cycling ability or age, you don’t need to feel you are missing out. Riding an ebike made me feel like a big kid again, I felt unlimited in where I could go and what I could see. It provided me with the time and comfort to take in the glorious Italian countryside and the confidence to ride all day with my friends, safe in the knowledge that whatever the route threw at us, I was able to ride by their side. 

Now, where’s the nearest socket…’

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Sounds good? We have a great range of Electric Bike Holidays for you to choose from!

Photography: Alessandro Gallo

Expert cycling advice from our well-travelled team

Adventure, beautiful landscapes and tasty food… our marketing executive Frances Wilson has lots she likes to experience whilst on a cycling holiday.

Having joined our Southern Dalmatia, Camino de Santiago and Via Francigena tours in the past, we thought we’d catch up with this two-wheeled enthusiast to get her top travel packing tips

1. Take lip balm… and a rain jacket
Be prepared for extreme weather conditions, as on a bike you’re exposed to it all! I’ve ridden in all sorts, from wall-to-wall sunshine in Croatia to a few heavy downpours in Northern Spain.

2. Learn a few words of the language
If you’re keen I recommend buying a phrasebook, but for those after a quick win, I always find that hello and thank you are universal phrases which will help you get by very nicely in any country you visit. Go on, it’s nice to be nice and always fun to learn from the locals.

3. Join in the GoPro craze
Okay, I know holidays are a great chance to switch off, but capturing my experience of the journey is something I really enjoy doing. It’s also a great way to reminisce once home from said travels!

4. Pack some decent padded shorts
Invest in a good pair… they’re so worth it! I’ve personally just bought some from women’s cycling provider Velo Vixen, which have been specially made in Italy with an enhanced padded rear. They work wonders and help avoid unnecessary aches after multiple days in the saddle.

Final wise words…
Look up and enjoy the varied scenery, listen to the amazing nature you’re immersed in and savour the freedom of escaping your day-to-day routine.