Category Archives: Customer Stories

Stories from our trips written by customers

Customer Story: Discovering Sri Lanka

Located in the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka is a diverse destination with an amazing range of experiences for such a small island. Whilst we could chat for hours about the beauty of this part of the world, we thought on this occasion we will let our customers do the talking! Here’s a story from Sam Crooks, who recently headed here with us, to give you a flavour of the trip…

‘It was the turn of the New Year in 2017 and as many of us do, I was googling holidays as a way of escaping the January blues. Looking for something a bit different I’d been searching ‘active adventures’ and was surprised to see that The Guardian recommended a company, Skedaddle, that was right under my nose on Newcastle Quayside – how had I not come across this before? It was a sign!

I was soon lost in the trip notes of the cycling adventures, longing after the scenery they describe with my mouth watering at the thought of Asian cuisine but I couldn’t shake some niggling worries – I’m not a cyclist (at least not your typical Sunday ride kind), will I fit in, will I keep up? How many consecutive days in the saddle? I’d also never travelled on my own in this way before.

Running along the quayside one day a friend kindly reminded me of a saying, “it’ll be a good experience or a great story”… The next day I found myself sat with the dashing Mr Andrew Straw in Skedaddle HQ talking sunsets and Sri Lankan cuisine over a free coffee! Andrew set my worries at ease. Despite what people may believe it’s not all about the bike! The bike has a key role but it’s as much about travel – experiencing a country, meeting new people and making great memories (at least that’s what I took away from our chat). Within a few days I was signed up.

Sri Lanka is a country of beauty! The tagline, ‘beaches and backroads’ was exactly what we got – and everything in between. We cycled our way from Chillaw through rice fields, wound our way up some cheeky climbs to the tea plantations, and back downhill through National Parks, sugarcane fields and cinnamon plantations, finishing on the coast in Mirissa.

There are so many highlights from the trip but some of my favourite moments included taking in the views from Sigiriya Rock, having to abandon a day of cycling 10km earlier than planned due to a wild elephant being in the road, randomly meeting a local cycling champ and stopping off for a cup of tea and a savoury do-nut as the weather was building to a cyclone!

Off the bike we saw wild elephants, crocodiles, monkeys and an array of birds during safari, learned about Buddhist philosophy through visiting temples and enjoyed the contrast of city stays and beach huts. Don’t get me started on the plentiful, delicious food; I’ll be here all day!

So Sri Lanka gave a lot but the cherry on the cake was the group members and the guides. Our local guides were just brilliant. Whether on foot, on the bike, playing paparazzi or driving the bus they had our every need catered for. Full of fun, energy and keen to help us learn about and enjoy Sri Lanka we couldn’t have asked for more. The group itself were a font of travelling knowledge and experience, I enjoyed learning of people’s lives and their travelling tales and who knew how creative we would become at getting our cycling kit washed and dried for the next day!

So, if you’re reading this as a first time ‘Skedaddler’ and you have some of the niggles I had, just go for it! You could have an amazing experience too. And if you need any more recommendation or persuasion, I’m now signed up for Swaziland in September!’

Feeling inspired? Lush beaches, awesome scenery and amazing wildlife await you as we check out the ancient temples, tea plantations and lush forests during or cycling adventure in Sri Lanka.

Customer Story: Cuban photo diary

Our Customer Competition winner,  Janet Brown, recently headed to Central America for a Cycling Adventure on the ever fascinating island of Cuba! Janet was so impressed with this photogenic destination that she sent us her insightful overview of the two weeks on the Caribbean’s most vibrant island full of cycling, history, cigars and old cars…

‘As a keen photographer, I worked out that a cycling trip to Cuba was the best way to see the country, and the only way to get my other half there!

Cuba didn’t disappoint. The cycling was quite challenging, as there were a few long climbs, some cheeky climbs, and loads of undulations. We were mostly on a mixture of dirt and tarmac roads with little traffic. Our ensuite accommodation was all excellent, varying from small casa particulares to all-inclusive holiday resorts. The food was tasty and plentiful, with the choice generally being chicken, pork, beef or fish.

Finishing a ride with a beer, mojito or pina colada was a bit different to my usual mug of tea! Oh, and the photography was almost too good, with landscapes, people, horse-drawn carts and classic cars at every turn of the head.

We visited many places important to Cuban revolutionary history, with expert knowledge from our Cuban guides (Lazaro in Havana and Andry on the tour). Almost a year to the day after the death of Fidel Castro, we visited his burial place in Santiago de Cuba. 

After a circular ride on the first day, we set off from Santiago de Cuba, and rode along the coastline, heading west to Niquero over 3 days. We were a small group of 6 people, and there was quite a difference in speed on the climbs. However, with our leader Tony’s support, we pulled together and tried to help each other cope with the ups and downs.

Back on the revolutionary trail, we headed towards the Sierra Maestra, where Fidel Castro developed his hidden headquarters. Having cycled along their southern slopes, we were now heading for the northern side.

Cycling through rural farmland, we could have been travelling at any time in the last 2 centuries!

On our first non-cycling day, after a steep ride in a jeep, we trekked the last few km to Fidel Castro’s Comandancia de la Plata. This command HQ was established after a year on the run in the mountains, and was never found by Batista’s soldiers. The fridge can still be seen here in Fidel’s hut, which had several escape routes.

After a transfer from our hotel in Camaguey, we rode into Trinidad, probably my favourite place of the whole trip. A morning’s short ride to the beach was followed by time to wander around and enjoy the cobbled streets and classic cars in town.

Our final destination was Viñales, a land of limestone outcrops known as mogotes, and another wonderful area for cycling, as well as being famous for organic tobacco production. Visiting a tobacco grower, we were persuaded to try the Cuban cigars, and several of us bought them to take home. So what if I gave up smoking in 1981!

When we booked this trip, it had seemed like a good idea to finish up with a day in Havana, but we were woken by strong winds and torrential rain. Undaunted, we set off on the circular HabanaTourBus, ending up in the Café Paris for pizza, cubatas (dark rum version of a cuba libre) and Cuban music.

The return trip along the seafront Avenida de Maceo, otherwise known as the Malecón, was rather exhilarating on the open top of the bus.

And those cars? They really are amazing!’

Feeling inspired? If you would like to head to Cuba, we have two fantastic trips you can choose from!

Customer Story: Lake Constance

Exploring three countries, Germany, Austria and Switzerland, our cycling holiday around Lake Constance is a great trip with a lot of character and our guides will be sure to help you discover some of the fantastic beauty of the region and support you along the way. Our Customer Competition winner, Lynn Harris, has experienced herself how amazing our guides are and what are the benefits of riding in the group! Here’s her story…

“An average of 50 km a day?  I can do that,” I told my husband.  “And it’s rated a 1-2, that’s my speed – easy/gentle.”  So I called the Skedaddle office and booked us onto the Lake Constance supported holiday.  Then the questions and doubts started in my mind.  I am a fair-weather cyclist riding on mostly flat roads.  What if it rained?  What if I had problems with the hills?  What if I was the slowest person?

Well, I needn’t have worried.  Our guide, Suzanne, assured us that it was quite all right to walk up a hill, and that there were trains and boats that could shorten any day’s ride.  Skedaddle came through with sunshine and no wind for the week.  What more could you ask for?

Off we started on our first day’s ride.  The riding was easy and we stopped at a waterfront café for cake and another one for lunch.  Not too bad!  Then came the afternoon.  Definitely hillier and there were some that I had to walk up.  But not to worry, Suzanne sometimes walked up too, to provide company.  And the others waited at the top for the walkers to catch up.

Switzerland and Germany have quite a convoluted border on the way out to Rhine Falls.  We crossed between the two countries five times in less than twenty kilometers.  For us North Americans, it was strange to cross the border without stopping at Customs and showing our passports.  In fact, often all we saw was a just a marker at the side of the road.

Each day’s ride was a little different, passing cornfields or apple orchards and vineyards, forests or fields, towns and countryside.  And each day’s ride ended at a well-appointed, local hotel with comfortable beds, good showers, and good food.

We were amazed at the number of cyclists we saw each day – both locals out on daily business and those out touring, and the amount of cycling infrastructure – well-signed cycling paths/lanes, and bicycle parking areas at train stations, city centres, and hotels.  So much more advanced than at home.

Since this was a leisure tour, we had time to stop to enjoy the views along the way and to explore some of the sights – old city centres, harbours, museums, and more.  Some of us went up the cable car at Pfander.  Two of our group even took their bikes and rode back down.  And there were always stops for lunches and breaks at outdoor cafés.

Suzanne ably led us to each day’s destination and dealt with any problems that arose.   Everyone in our group had interesting stories to share, especially of their previous cycling experiences.  Although this route could easily be done self-guided, it was so much more enjoyable to be with the group.’

Feeling inspired? Join us on our supported Lake Constance tour, where our guides will help you to discover beautiful lakeside pedalling around one of Europe’s largest lakes. Or choose a self-guided version of the route and explore the region at your own pace!