Category Archives: Europe

Skedaddle Twaddle about our cycling holidays in Europe

Be inspired by the Giro d’Italia

The first Grand Tour of 2018 is here! And now it’s time to open up the possibilities of taking on your own two-wheeled challenge. Here’s a run down of the stages and where our road cycling routes feature on this year’s tour…

Stage 9 Abruzzo, Appennini d’Abruzzo
Guided | Duration: 8 days | Grade: 3-4
A gentle intro through the terraced vineyards and olive groves of the Gran Sasso range soon takes a turn for the challenging with the infamous Passo Laciano and Blockhaus of Majella. From there, the adventures keep coming until our final climb into Campo Imperatore.

Stages 14 & 15Italian Dolomites and Raid Dolomiti
Guided | Duration: 8/10 days | Grades: 4-5/5

Take on some of Italy’s most iconic mountains! Both of our trips exploring these thrilling peaks are aimed at experienced cyclists who love the challenges of riding in the mountains. Home to many Giro highlights, it’s your chance to defeat the famous climbs and star in your own classic tour.

Stage 17Lakes of Lombardia
Guided | Duration: 8 days | Grade: 3
The Northern Lake District is synonymous with cycling history. This trip, our very own Tour of Lombardy, is perfect for discerning cyclists who like to combine idyllic road cycling with the finer things in life — good food, wine and stylish accommodation.

Stage 18Piemonte, La Strada del Vino
Guided | Duration: 8 days | Grade: 3
New for 2018, Piemonte has ridden into the spotlight as a niche road cycling destination. The region was awarded UNESCO World Heritage recognition in 2014 and is famous for Barolo wine, truffles and cheeses… need we continue? Oh, and the cycling is quite literally picture perfect.

9 things you’ll only understand if you’ve been cycling in France…

In the spiritual home of cycling, its glories are always celebrated! If you need more convincing on why France is the perfect destination for your next cycling holiday, we asked our guide and cycling journalist Hannah Reynolds to talk about her 9 favourite things about cycling in France…

After a season of working in France leading holidays for Skedaddle  there are a few things that I am really looking forward to enjoying again this season…

1. Bread
French bread is bread as it should be. Warm and fluffy on the inside with a tooth challenging exterior. On its own it fills your mouth with just the right salty, chewy sensations but when smeared with rich, creamy butter it becomes one of the best foods in the world. I could live on bread and butter, if the bread comes from a village ‘boulangerie’ and the butter is from Normandy, thick with crunchy salt crystals.

2. Wine is food
Every meal is accompanied by wine, not necessarily more than a small glass, but an indispensable part of every meal. It’s not treated as a luxury but is appreciated by everyone. It doesn’t have to be fancy, just a ‘pichet’ or carafe of the local wine will enhance the taste of every other dish on the table. No one is drinking to be drunk, wine is there to quench thirst, add contrasting flavours to the meal and in a daily celebration. Enjoying a glass of wine is part of the joie de vivre. Why deny yourself? When in France I drink more often, but less in total, and the enjoyment is all the greater for that.

3. Cycling is respected
If you ever get sick of your friends mocking your Lycra, or of car driver’s close passes, or reading the Daily Mail’s hate fueled cycling comments then come to France. France is the spiritual home of cycling; here both the pneumatic tyre and the greatest bike race in the World were invented. Cyclists are greeted with respect, car drivers give you space on the roads and the stories of your day in the saddle are taken as seriously as if you were retelling the time you won a stage of the Tour de France. Cycling is taken seriously, its suffering understood, its glories celebrated.

4. Meal times are revered
Plastic sandwiches eaten over your keyboard or microwaved meals eaten out a plastic container have no place in France, or I think in any civilized lifestyle! When in France I realise the importance of making time to eat; not just to enjoy the food but to relax and enjoy the company of the people you are eating with. Everyone downs tools and stops for lunch. Road workers shrug off their overalls and office workers step out into the sunshine. Even simple meals are likely to have at least two courses and evening meals can stretch to three or more. Each dish is small but builds into a satisfying meal. Making a little ceremony of every meal doesn’t necessarily mean eating more, it means eating well. Taking time to really notice and enjoy flavours means you often end up eating less than when shoveling it down one handed whilst typing emails. Slower meal times are better for your health – and your digestion.

5. Sundays are sacred
On Sundays you will be greeted not with ‘bonjour’ but ‘bon dimanche’ – good Sunday. For other nationalities the absoluteness of Sunday closure comes as a bit of a shock. Getting a pint of milk after about 1pm is like looking for a needle in a haystack. Bakeries do a roaring trade in the mornings, sending their customers on their way with beautifully boxed patisseries tied up with ribbon, and florists stay open so you can buy flowers for your host on your way to Sunday lunch, but by lunchtime the streets are empty as everyone sits down to eat together. If all meal times are sacred then Sunday lunch is the most sacred of sacreds. The bonus for the cyclist is that for the majority of the day the roads are virtually deserted and peaceful. No one works so there are no trucks, no delivery vans and few people want to drive when they know there will be a well-chosen vintage to be enjoyed with their lunch. Once you learn to check the milk levels on a Saturday then Sundays become a day of relaxation to be embraced.

6. Tarmac is smooth
Anyone who has cycled in France will be familiar with the ‘route baree’ sign. It is impossible to do a long ride without coming across a closed road but the pay back of this minor inconvenience is that the majority of roads are pot-hole free with a beautiful smooth tarmac top. When there are road works they are a proper job, you can see the deep slice that gets taken out before being fully relayed.

7. Mountains
Britain is beautiful, no doubt about it. We have stunning coast lines, vast wild moorlands, ancient forest and remote hills. We even have mountains, but what I miss when I come home from cycling in France is the big mountains. Mountains that take hours to cycle up which, when you finally reach the top, allow you to gaze down on other mountains and view spiky snowy peaks in every direction. Just looking at mountainscapes raises my heart rate. Baking hot sun on your neck and sweat dripping off your nose onto your stem as you inch and haul your bike up a pedal stroke at a time.  Then, at the top, the glorious release of a swooping downhill, just the sound of your free-wheel and wind rushing past your ears as you and your bike flow sinuously around every curve. I miss mountains.

8. Space
France and the UK have a very similar population, but France is three times bigger than the UK. There’s more space, more rural areas, more quiet roads, more picturesque small villages, more wild uninhabited spaces. If you ever feel claustrophobic and that you can’t move for queues, and people and traffic jams then a cycling holiday in rural France will give you breathing space. Yes, of course there are busy cities but it is easier to get further away from the press of civilization in France than it is living in the UK.

9. Rules that are made to be broken
As an outsider my observation is that French people love to make rules, but they love to break them even more. Sometimes it feels like it’s a national form of entertainment, especially to watch others try and work out which of the rules are really rules and which can be ignored.

However, remember that it is the French who gave us the word etiquette and you are far less likely to see cultural rules ignored than those of petty bureaucracy and jobs-worths. The rule that will never be broken? Correct swim attire in pools. Gentleman you had better pack your budgie smugglers or there is no chance of a swim.

Feeling inspired? The best way to explore France from the mountains to the coastline and all of the countryside in between is on two wheels! Check out our full range of holidays in France to inspire your next visit.

Cross Country VS Enduro-Style

Eager to escape to the hills? We take a look at two of our most popular biking experiences to find out more…

Best for: A classic cross-country journey taking in remote Scottish landscapes
Trip: Highlands Coast to Coast, UK | Duration: 7 days
You say: 
Tomintoul to Ballater had some superb technical single track and a great fast decent. Mount Keen is also worth a mention for its challenging climb and technical singletrack. I would recommend this holiday to any keen mountain biker as a must-do trip! ” Simon, Hereford, UK
Why a Cross-Country Challenge? For the chance to experience a rewarding place-to-place route exploring unspoilt wilderness and varied landscapes on a range of diverse trails.

For more Cross-Country Challenges click here.

Best for: Thrilling, technical trails exploring Sardinia’s idyllic coast and mountains
Trip: Sardinian Enduro, Italy | Duration: 8 days
We say: 
Our new Enduro tour has been specifically designed to put you through your paces on some of Sardinia’s most challenging and exhilirating trails – prepare for endless technical  singletrack set amidst stunning backdrops.” Matt, MTB Product Manager at Skedaddle
Why Enduro-Style? A great way to put your trail centre skills to the test in more exotic climes. These are holidays, not races, but our expert guides will help you make the most of the local terrain.

For more Enduro-Style tours click here.