- New Zealand
- The Queen Charlotte TrackMountain biking the Queen Charlotte Track in the Marlborough Sounds
- History on the Heaphy
- Suppressing the Competitive UrgeMountain biking in Malborough
- Northern ExposureMountian biking the Coromandel
- Hurunui Hot SpringsWinter mountain biking to Hurunui Hut in the Lake Sumner Forest Park.
- Craigieburn Conservation ParkMountain Biking Craigieburn
- The Brevet ClubGuy and Laurence recount the suffering and intrigue of the inaugural Kiwi Brevet... a 1100km mountain bike race around the top half of the South Island over six days. Informal with self-enforced rules, no entry fee, unsupported, and... well, hard.
- Wharfedale TrackThis is arguably the best and longest stretch of single track in Canterbury
- Double FencelineThis classic trip snakes along the summit ridge of Banks Peninsula.
- One Night StandsOvernight mountain biking trips in the South Island
- Fool's GoldMountain biking in Central Otago
- All that Glistens... the Croesus and Moonlight Gold TrailsMountain biking on the South Island's West Coast
- Otago GoldMountain biking - Bannockburn, Central Otago
- Loop de LoopGreat mountain biking can be found in most corners of this flat earth and New Zealand boasts its fair share of classics.
- Magnetic WestMulti-day mountain biking, Kaikoura to the Tasman sea
- Romping Round the Marlborough SoundsMountain biking Marlborough
- Rambling Around the Marlborough SoundsMountain biking Marlborough, Arapawa and D'Urville Islands
- Off the Beaten Track An off road traverse of the South Island on mountain bikes
- At Peace with PureoraMountain biking around the Pureora Forest in the Central North Island
- Taranaki for NeophytesMountain biking in Taranaki
- South Pacific
- West meets EastAfter riding all morning through the tail of a typhoon, we didn't want to slosh into a Japanese restaurant in that state. I tried drying out by standing under the vent outside the kitchen. I got no drier, but now I smelled of noodles...
- Tien Shan TraverseWhat do you do in the middle of the mountains when two large, thuggish Chinese men get out of a car and stride purposefully towards you? You smile and say thank you for the stale bread and peaches they are offering you!
- One Gear, One Continent, One Hero.Hero Cycles is the world's largest manufacturer of bikes, spitting out a whopping six million a year. You're unlikely to find one at your local bike shop but as any seasoned traveller can attest, they are the 'people's car' of India.
- Laid-back LaosMountain bike touring in Laos
- The Road to MandalayCycle touring in Myanmar
- Vietnam on Thirty Dollars a DayCycle touring in Vietnam
- A Short Ride in the Hindu Kush Cycle touring in Pakistan
- On a Wheel and a Prayer FlagCycle touring in Tibet
- Shanti Shanti - Across the Himalaya by BikeCycling across the Himalayas
- Biking the Hidden HimalayaCycle touring in North West India
- Pedalling Patagonia"Wow! Amazing! You're cycling to the bottom of South America. Is it all downhill?" Alan and I looked at each other in amusement and suggested that we expected a few uphill sections.
- Cycling Cuba with Fidel and Ché
- Dirt Roading in Colombia'The Only Risk is Wanting to Stay', promises Colombia's latest tourist advertising slogan, printed over glossy photos of idyllic Caribbean coastlines, perfectly preserved colonial towns, rolling, lush coffee plantations and a Latin couple dancing hot cumbia.
- Famous Potato Recipes from Idaho
- My Private Idaho
- Donde Estan Los Pollos
- Alaska - the Last Frontier The Alaskan Iditasport Human Powered Ultramarathon
- In Search of Maple Syrup and a Decent National Anthem Mountain biking in Canada
- All You Can EatMountain Biking in Northern California
- Caffeine and Singletrack in the USA Mountain biking in South West Colorado
- Pizza, Gelato and Mountain BikesMountain biking in Italy's Aosta Valley
- Albania for BeginnersCycle touring in Albania
- Fat Tyre Touring in ItalyMountain bike touring through Italy.
- Corsica- touring the scented isleCycling around the Mediterranean
- Bici Dolomiti Mountain biking in the Dolomites
- A Slice of Swiss CheeseMountain biking in Switzerland
- London Calling The London Cycle Show
- Stairway to Heaven - biking Spain's Camino de SantiagoCycle touring in Spain
- A Scottish Coast to CoastCycle touring in Scotland
- Crouching Tiger - Cycling Ireland's South West Coast Cycling Ireland's South West Coast
- The Italian Job Mountain biking around Lake Garda
- Double DutchA cycle tour of the Netherlands.
- A Rather Big Swedish RaceMountain bike racing in Sweden
- French ConnectionCircumnavigating Mont Blanc on the "Sentier Pedestre" hiking trail.
- A Month in Provence Cycle touring in the South of France
- A French PilgrimageTouring with the Tour de France
- End to End, the Long WayCycle touring in Great Britain
- Steve's SabbaticalCycle touring in France
Steve van Dorsser, UnderGround Issue 9, December 1996
Updated 29 June 2011Breakfast of fresh croissants and treacle-like coffee in a village café, temples of food on every corner and medieval architecture as far as the eye can see. If you've got a month to spare and a wad of cash looking for a way out of your wallet (or a healthy credit facility on the plastic), then this could be the go. Cycle touring in France is close to heaven on a bike.
There are a few tricks to getting yourself within striking distance whilst maximising the pleasure and minimising the dramas. Europe via Asia allows 20kg of luggage; the route via the US generally allows you two pieces. You needn't be a rocket scientist to work out that with your average touring stead weighing in at around 14kg, if going via Asia then you'll be travelling exceedingly light. You can risk going over weight but beware the baggage Nazis - excess luggage fees can mortally wound even the most robust budget. Check out your chosen airline's policy on bikes with your travel agent and (if it's favourable) make sure your ticket is appropriately endorsed.
With a few exceptions most of France is cycling nirvana - check out a travel book if you need inspiration. Getting to your chosen starting point can be a challenge. If you've got time the best bet is to jump on your bike, otherwise prepare for battle. The French rail network is extensive and reliable but it suffers from a bike allergy. Only certain trains will take bikes - even though all have baggage cars. Very French. The timetable identifies those that carry bikes with a wee bike symbol. You can send your bikes separately as freight but they go via Paris (nice for your bike) and will take 3-7 days. You've got your ticket and are waiting on the platform - so what next? Getting on the train with your bike and panniers can be a bit of a juggling act with only a couple of minutes to execute the manoeuvre. It's best to figure out where the baggage car is going to end up on the platform and then wait in ambush.
Next, you'll need some maps. The 1:200 000 series from Michelin are the go. They're readily available at local book stores and tabacs. To avoid the traffic, stick to the white tertiary roads - you can cruise these for hours without seeing a car (tractors maybe).
Camping around France is a breeze. There's an extensive network of camp grounds ranging from flash "municipal" ones to more laid back (and cheaper) jobs linked to a local farm or vineyard. The local Office du Tourisme will have a list of those within their canton. If you'd rather avoid the camping thing, there are numerous alternatives with B&B style auberges and 1 star hotels in abundance.
Let's face it - the main reason you're in France at all is for the food and wine.
And the more you ride, the more you can eat. The two hour lunch easily becomes part of the daily routine, and joy of joys... three courses of the daily set menu plus a tipple or two can be got for about $20. Then tuck a few k's under the belt and hey do it all again in another spot for dinner. Just like a health camp but without the control freaks!
Supermarkets are heaven for the DIY gastrophile. Much to Kate's frustration, I could easily lose an hour browsing the aisles - salivating at the array of delectables. We didn't actually swim in the European wine lake, but there's a proverbial pond in each supermarket and the choice, oh the choice! I'm too young for this.
The other institution you'll observe is the Sunday morning ride. Basically every bloke with a bike, slips on a bit of lycra and heads out in search of lunch. Normally they hunt in packs - it's a very macho affair. Quite what France's women get up to during this weekly pilgrimage is anyone's guess. The sight of us cruising along in full touring regalia was quite a novelty for the lads. Two were seen slinking into a hilltop cafe in disgrace after being passed by Kate and Sue on one gruelling hill climb.
Escaping France is difficult both emotionally and physically when you have to squeeze all your gear back within the airline allowances. We played stuff the cabin baggage till it pops to reduce the official weight - but all without reason... a bit of deft handling during the pre-flight weigh-in fooled the officials into believing our bikes really were only 7kg (the woman was clearly not velo literate). The only remaining challenge was getting the 15kg day pack into the overhead locker without killing any other passengers.