Shelley Metcalf

Pedal at your own pace on these all-inclusive bike tours.

Gayle K. Christopher

Ever want to leisurely enjoy the natural beauty of a coastallocale without having to worry about room or dinner reservations?You can be pampered and still experience an active vacation with anall-inclusive (more or less) bike tour. Trips usually come at apackage price that may include airfare, but definitely includeslodging and at least some meals. Depending on the company, theitinerary may be totally round-trip―from your door back toyour door. Some companies allow you to tack special excursions ontoeither of end of your trip. Popular tours can fill up quickly, soit is a good idea to book your trip three to six months ahead.

Some tours aim at beginners, with only light riding on levelterrain, while others appeal to intermediate or advanced riders whoseek more challenging distances or terrain. Many tours allow therider to choose among several routes of varying distances each day.All tours follow the riders with a "sag wagon" (a van) to take youback to the hotel or on to the next stop for lunch if you tire ofriding. Tours generally provide most meals while allowing you toexperience some local restaurants on your own. Accommodations maybe B&Bs, historic inns, or resorts. Tour guides, generally twoper group, help make the experience personal and enjoyable.

When comparing tours offered by different companies, make sureyou are comparing apples to apples. Not all tour prices include thesame amenities. Some have better accommodations or dining whileothers have a separate fee for bike or other equipment rental.Companies generally charge extra to travel solo, at least partlyrefundable if a suitable, willing roommate is found at the start ofthe tour. Some tour operators offer discounts for earlyreservations or self-guided tours.

Road and Mountain Bike Tours
• REI Adventures offers Canadian Pacific Gulf Islandscycling with views of peaceful farms, beaches, and old-growthforests. This seven-day adventure near Vancouver includesmagnificent seascapes, glass-blowing demonstrations, andwhite-shell beaches. Group size is six to 12, and bicycles areprovided. Visit reiadventures.com.

• Hawaii and Prince Edward Island are featured in nine-daydeluxe trips planned and guided by VBT. This veteran tour companyalso offers six-day tours of the North Carolina coast or the Mainecoast and Acadia National Park. The packages include most meals,plus bike rental. Visit vbt.com.

• Casual Inn trips by Backroads explore locations inHawaii, Costa Rica, Nova Scotia, Washington state's San JuanIslands, the California coast, Canada's Prince Edward Island, andsouthern Alaska. While the accommodations and dining may be lowerkey than for Backroads' Premier Inn trips, there is no skimping onadventure or beautiful landscapes. The fee includes equipment andmost meals. Visit backroads.com.

• Carolina Tailwinds offers four- or six-day tours ofNorth Carolina's Ocracoke Island and Outer Banks in the spring andfall. The route snakes through scenic Cedar Island NationalWildlife Refuge and Cape Hatteras National Seashore. A luxury biketour of the Outer Banks explores the northern coastal region ofNorth Carolina. Riders may bring their own bikes or pay anadditional fee for rental. Visit carolinatailwinds.com.

• Experience the Maine coast over three- or six-day tripsguided by locals who know the best restaurants and shops. SummerFeet Maine Coast Cycling Adventures schedules several tripsthroughout the summer and into the fall, when the foliage is at itszenith. Self-guided tours are available at a reduced cost. Bikerental is additional in most cases. Visit summerfeet.net.

Multisport Tours
• Bicycle Adventures specializes in multisport tours,many in coastal areas in the west, Canada, and Hawaii. These ofteninclude hiking, but might also involve kayaking, snorkeling, orsailing. Average group size is 12, and bike rental is a separatecost. Tours visit the San Juan Islands, the Oregon coast, thecentral California coast, the Canadian Gulf Islands, and Hawaii.Visit bicycleadventures.com.

• For an active way to see the Caribbean isles of Trinidadand Tobago, try REI Adventures. Participants take in the beautifulscenery while hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, and snorkeling.Groups are usually of four to 12, and REI members get a pricebreak. Visit reiadventures.com.

• Backroads offers trips to exotic locations such asHawaii, Costa Rica, Belize, and Baja California, in addition totours of coastal South Carolina and Georgia, Maine, Prince EdwardIsland, and Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket in Massachusetts. Mosttours explore by bike, but multisport trips may also includehiking, kayaking, or horseback riding. Casual Inn trips includeinformal, modest accommodations. Premier Inn trips go upscale onlodging and dining. Visit backroads.com.

Do-It-Yourselfers
To search worldwide for bike tours ranging from short daytrips to journeys of a week or more, visit bicycletour.com.Searchable listings include road, mountain, tandem, or recumbentbike tours. There are no guarantees as to how all-inclusive thesetrips are, but they are a great way to connect with other bikersriding your way.

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