Guided Cycling Tours. Why? And which one?
This is the bedrock of what we do, cycling in groups in some of the most interesting and beautiful regions of France, Italy and the UK. In 2014 we’ll have a full programme starting in June.
Why choose a Group Tour?
Here are my top three reasons to choose a guided cycle tour:
- We know the way. No matter how good your map and route notes, if you’re on your own there will be times when you take a busier road, or wonder if you’re on the right track. We know the little tracks and quiet roads, and we’ll take you on a better route. Definitely!
- We visit these hotels and restaurants often, we know them and they’re our friends. So when you’re with a Chain Gang guide, you’re a VIP.
- Laughter. Our groups just laugh a lot. Dinner times especially are great fun, and many of the most interesting people I’ve ever met were on Chain Gang holidays.
Where’s the best food?
Some of this depends on individual preference, but for me the best food of any of our trips is in Tuscany and Umbria. It seems to me they just approach food with more relish. In France I would choose Burgundy or Provence. And if you’re a vegetarian who loves food it’s Provence or Provence.
Which is the easiest tour?
I think Burgundy is probably the easiest. It’s not without hills – anyone who’s cycled to Chateauneuf will confirm that – but Burgundy is the easiest, followed by the Loire Valley and then Normandy.
And the hardest?
Devon – that’s an easy question! But Devon is probably the most beautiful of any of our tours, proving that old adage: no hills means no views!
What’s new since last year?
Well, we don’t have a new tour for 2014, but with 10 guided itineraries you should find somewhere that whets your cycling appetite. But I think I have a new favourite tour, Normandy.
Normandy is fantastic. This will be our 3rd year running our tour of Normandy. I think we do better than any other company in showing the great food culture of Normandy, as well as the history of the Normandy Landings and the fact that it’s just very pretty.
After I had completed my own research in the region I was excited to include the cuisine of Normandy, the cheeses, the rich creamy sauces, and anything and everything related to apples, especially fermented and distilled apples. Not only is Norman cuisine worthy of mention, but it’s shaped the region in a delightful way. The traditional half-timbered buildings and rolling green countryside are features of a centuries-old agricultural traditon.
But when I started to look at what other bike companies do in Normandy, there is scarcely a mention of the Pays d’Auge, so I spent a bit of time worrying whether we should include this whole theme, alongside the Normandy landing beaches and the history of William The Conqueror.
Well we’ve been running the tour for two years now, and I’m absolutely certain that we do it right. Tell a French person you’ve spent a week in Normandy and never visited the Pays d’Auge and they’ll think you’re kidding. Of course we spend plenty of time exploring the museums, cemeteries, beaches and memorials associated with Operation Overlord, and like all Chain Gang tours we eat splendidly. But on our Normandy tour, whatever we eat and drink, there’s a good chance we cycled past where it came from. And I like that!