The ultimate guide to long haul adventures in early 2018

We’re setting our sights towards 2018 and our range of far-flung destinations, in eager anticipation of wonderfully warm weather and unique cultural experiences! For your chance to escape on two wheels early next year, take a look at some of our favourite trips…

Best for: those eager to escape early in 2018
Destinations: The Lake District, Chile and Argentina or Volcanes Y Playas, Costa Rica 
We say: Celebrating New Year on a bike in one of the above exotic postcodes, has surely got to be up there as a must-do experience! For palm fringed beaches and exotic wildlife we recommend you check out the natural wonder that is Costa Rica, or for timeless scenery that looks like it could have rubbed shoulders with the dinosaurs we can’t rate Chile and Argentina enough.

Best for: those who want to head away for a late winter getaway…
Destinations: Cuban RevolutionsCuban Wheels or Hidden treasures of Laos 

We say: Cuba got trendy in the past couple of years but don’t let its newly found claim to fame put you off! Our holidays here head deep into the rural heart of the island, for a unique look at the countries fascinating way of life. Alternatively, you could head off on an Asian adventure where ethereal waterfalls and Buddhist temples are waiting to greet you en route.

Customer Story: C2C, a long way up!

Juliet England joined us on the 130+ mile bike ride from Whitehaven to Tynemouth – the classic coast-to-coast route. She hasn’t been on a bike in years. What could possibly go wrong?

Day 1 – Whitehaven to Threlkeld – 36 miles
Riders setting off on coast-to-coast rides traditionally dunk their front wheels in the sea at the start and finish points, a symbolic baptism.

At Whitehaven at the start of the odyssey to Tynemouth, the sea slops at the bottom of a greasy concrete slope, and we’re warned that the ‘wheel-dipping’ isn’t really necessary, but I insist on going down to the edge, where I slither in up to my ankles. I have to be hauled to safety, a not inconsiderable operation, and it makes for a soggy pedal-off. Still, in the words of the local newspaper cliché, this unscheduled christening doesn’t dampen my spirits.

This is the big one. The C2C, the sea to sea. We’ll tack our way from west to east, and ever northwards, the sun and wind at our backs, from the Irish Sea to the North one, across the nation’s backbone, mainly following National Cycle Routes 71 and 72.

Then there’s the bike fitting and induction from the Saddle Skedaddle guiding team of Les, Jayne, Francis and Dave. They’re passionate, borderline-obsessive bikeheads to a man (and woman) – the essential deal being that they’ll do everything bar actually turning the pedals for you. Even then, if you asked nicely enough…

Day 2 – Threlkeld to Alston – 38 miles
I’m pedalling (I use the term loosely) with Jayne the guide, and the climb is rewarded with a stupendous view over Penrith. Jayne does an excellent job of ensuring I’m safe, even if I do have to stop her from giving me a backie.

By lunchtime on the green at the splendidly named village of Langwathby, we’ve done some 19 miles. Chillingly, the guidebook warns that this is the last place to “kick back before the serious stuff kicks in.” Right. So what we’ve done before hasn’t been serious?

Unfortunately, it’s no word of a lie. How to convey the full horror of the Hartside ascent? It’s a monster of a mountain, an insult of an incline, a hellish hill. Such stuff as recurring nightmares are made of. For the last 24 hours, it has been whispered of in our group with fear and awe.

At the bottom, Les, the head guide, says this climb has made grown cyclists weep. Some have had to push their bikes up all the way; others have had to be conveyed to the summit in the van.

“Sloooooow and steady,” offers Les in his Tyneside tones.

Suddenly, somehow, I’ve done it, and I’m propping the bike up outside England’s highest café (1903m) before stumbling in, beetroot-faced. My legs buckle beneath me as I fall into a chair, hyperventilating. Someone pushes a mug of tea in front of me. I am so disorientated with exhaustion that I don’t even ask about the cakes. That’s how serious it is.

Day 3 – Alston to Stanhope – 24 miles
Today’s shorter mileage doesn’t mean much, since, in terms of hills, this is one of the hardest days, reaching the ride’s highest points. Alston is still pretty high above sea level – some 1,000 feet or so, high up in the North Pennines.

Luckily, this day includes my favourite accommodation of the trip. A former stationmaster’s house, it was bought derelict by Lorraine and Terry Turnbull, who have turned it into a haven for cyclists. Stunning views, a hot bath, even a gluten-free steak pie, for goodness sake. What more could a weary biker demand?

“Smashed it!” I say punching the air as Les arrives, grinning at my words, while I sit in the front room enjoying a restorative brew.

Day 4 – Stanhope to Tynemouth  – 37 Miles
On our last day, before we know it, we’re in the urban centre of Gateshead and pedalling over the Millennium Bridge in the shadow of the Baltic Arts Centre to The Cycle Hub, Saddle Skedaddle’s HQ and temple to all things bike-related.

We practically float the last few miles through what was once a thriving ship building area, past Wallsend until, finally, we’re shooting along the sea front at Tynemouth.

On the train home, there’s time to reflect the last few cobweb-blasting days. All the hard work has been worth it. The coast to coast thing offers a real focus, a reason to keep going until you next see sea. I would have benefited from more training (er, I would have benefited from any proper training…). But, truly, it’s been totally brilliant, and, if I can do it, anyone can. You might just have to get off and push.

Feeling like taking on a C2C challenge? We have a fantastic selection of supported and self-guided coast to coast cycling holidays in the UK. There’s nothing like the sense of achievement when you finish a coast to coast ride!

Italy VS Spain: The Half Term Showdown

If escaping to the sun sounds like the dream for you and the kids this October Half Term, you’re in luck!

With two guaranteed trips departing later in the year, we still have lots of opportunity to hit the beach and get to grips with some fun biking trails too. All that’s left to decide is which country and coastline you’d prefer to explore…

Where: Spain, Coastal Adventurer
Best for: 
Families looking for a centre-based experience with lots of ‘off the bike’ activities
Coastal Fact: This is the point where the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean seas meet! A place of incredibly rich biodiversity…perfect for spotting whales.
We say: From kayaking opportunities to whale watching, our journey is packed full of fun opportunities and comes complete with arguably some of the best beaches in Southern Spain. Our rides here aim to get you out into the beautiful Spanish countryside and are flexible in length to suit the needs of the kids each day.

VS.

Where: Italy, Family Flavours
Best for: A place-to-place adventure with island excursions and crystal clear seas
Coastal Fact: Sardinia is one of the largest islands in the Mediterranean, second only to Sicily. Its azure ocean is also reputed to rival the Caribbean.
We say: Splendid beaches and secluded coves are the order of the day in Sardinia, a stunning island in Italy that is sure to captivate the whole family. Our journey here is perfect for families seeking a varied route and even sees you exploring smaller islands too.

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