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If you want your next sports-themed holiday to be sustainable, then a cycling tour could be a great option. Often overlooked, this type of holiday offers the opportunity to explore a destination while leaving no carbon footprint.
In this expert guide, Harvey Downard, head of cycling at bike tour operator Cycling for Softies, shares some insight into this type of travel and suggests some breathtaking routes for anyone looking for an eco-friendly getaway.
No-fly and no-drive: keep your carbon footprint to a minimum
Using a bike instead of a car for short journeys reduces travel emissions by up to 75%, according to ourworldindata.org. So, as you explore by bike on your holiday, you’ll be able to cover much larger distances than by car to best immerse yourself in a destination and minimise your carbon footprint. Not only this, but you’ll find cycling tours can often be accessed easily by train or ferry.
“Our tours are an example of how cycling holidays can be easily accessed by public transport methods,” Downard said. “France, in particular, is very accessible by either train or ferry, and the tour starting points can easily be reached by these methods. Slightly further afield, Italy can still be visited via major train links, so travellers can minimise their environmental impact by choosing this over flying. But, if you’re completely wanting to rule out transport abroad, we offer tours based in the Cotswolds and Sussex, so you only need to stay in the country to experience a cycling holiday and keep your carbon footprint to the bare minimum.”
Cycling for Softies recommends its Burgundy Route des Grand Crus self-guided tour. Accessible by Eurostar from London to Paris and onwards from Paris to Dijon in as little as an hour and a half, you can have a plane and drive-free stay during this five- to seven-night tour of France’s most famed wine region. See more at cycling-for-softies.co.uk/burgundy
Get the ‘slow tourism’ experience
Slow travel is a type of tourism that allows you to completely immerse yourself in your destination, which in turn provides a much more sustainable form of travelling. Cycling tours keep guests at one with the environment that they are exploring, as they literally have the wind in their hair, as they roam through cities, countryside, and local towns by bike.
“It’s the closest you can get to your destination,” Downard said. “When you’re cycling from A to B, you can stop en route and explore an area or simply pause to take it all in, which you often can’t do when you’re in transit on a holiday – it’s a luxury in that respect. Not only is this the best way to get to grips with a destination completely, but it is having a positive impact on the planet in the long run – a win-win”.
For those who want to get up close and personal with their destination, the Cotswolds Country Escape takes you through one of the UK’s most astounding areas of natural beauty, through charming villages, along river banks, and winding country lanes. See cycling-for-softies.co.uk/cotswolds
Support the local economy
Cycling for Softies is a prime example of how cycling holidays support the local economy. With data highlighting the growing number of travellers keen to support local businesses, cycling through destinations allows you to jump off the saddle and support local economies wherever you are.
“Our tours are crafted around the local towns and cities that are visited en route,” Downard said. “The bespoke accommodations are hand-picked for not only their luxury and what we feel our guests will love but for the fact that they are locally owned and run businesses – supporting locals and their families. You’ll also find that our tours visit local eateries as well as vineyards and production facilities. For example, our Emilia Romagna tour visits a balsamic vinegar factory, helping to support this local business in the long run”.
Cycling for Softies’s “A Taste of Italy” tour in Emilia Romagna is a delight for foodie enthusiasts. With culinary experiences in gastronomic capitals, you can experience the best that the region has to offer. See cycling-for-softies.co.uk/a-taste-of-italy
Visit areas that are dedicated to eco-friendliness
Visiting destinations that share your sustainable and eco-friendly principles makes a sustainable holiday all the more possible. France has been ranked as the fifth most environmentally friendly country in the world in 2022 and even ranks fourth for its actions against climate change. And, a lot of the country’s popular tourist destinations are dedicated to maintaining this eco-friendly status.
Bordeaux, for example, is committed to eco-friendly travel and conserving its pristine countryside. Its wine industry, which it is famed for worldwide, has long been committed to sustainable and responsible viticulture. As of this year, 75% of Bordeaux’s vineyards are now under sustainable certification, contributing to Bordeaux’s reputation as an eco-friendly haven and its efforts to become a greener city.
Cycling for Softies’ Bordeaux City and Vineyards tour is the ideal trip to take to experience this up-and-coming green destination for yourself. You’ll explore the stunning landscapes and sample some of the world’s most prestigious vines at world-renowned châteaux including Saint Émilion and Pomerol. See cycling-for-softies.co.uk/bordeaux
Choose a staycation
To keep your holiday as sustainable as possible, why not opt for a staycation? Which, when on a cycling holiday, won’t make you feel like you’re missing out by not taking a vacation overseas.
“Our England cycling tours are some of our most popular tours and make for an easy and sustainable experience,” Downard said. “Explore some of the most luscious countryside locations in the UK – just as spectacular as our destinations offered in wider Europe.”
The England tours give you the very best that the country has to offer and, because you’re keeping it local, you’ll have a much more environmentally conscious experience in the process.
The Sparkling Sussex E-bike tour is carefully crafted to allow you to immerse yourself in the wine regions’ beautiful vineyards, relax in hand-picked spa hotels and meander through the charming countryside across the South Downs National Park. There’s also an opportunity to spend two nights amongst the vines at Rathfinny Estate, for those wine lovers who are looking to support a local company and experience some of the best wine the country has to offer. See cycling-for-softies.co.uk/sussex
Top image: Sparkling Sussex E-bike tour (Cycling for Softies)