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20 Years of Top Cycling Adventures

As Explore celebrates its 20th anniversary of offering high-quality cycling trips, James Adkin, Programme Manager, cycling adventures, shares his thoughts on what makes them a success. Join us on a trip – you can go anywhere from Whitehaven in the UK on the coast to coast to the golden-encrusted pagodas of Burma these days!

When did you join Explore?

In 1998 (ouch!) as a Tour Leader. After a great few years leading tours overseas, I settled back in the UK and wanting to stay connected with adventure travel. I’ve learnt a lot over the years and pool that knowledge with the rest of the Explore team to produce our range of trips.

2. Why have cycling holidays become so popular?

Generally, the trend has been for more healthy, active and interactive holidays and the bike is wonderful for this. Technology helps as bikes have become better, lighter, cheaper and more readily available in far-flung places … and now we even have the option of electric bikes. In recent years cycling has been truly launched into the public arena, with role models and inspirational athletes such as the hugely successful Olympic cycle team and Team Sky, which has encouraged people to ‘give it a go’. The more people go on cycling holidays the more they realise it’s a great way to travel and experience the destination - and word-of -mouth recommendations help to spread this. It’s going from strength to strength.

3. What is the longest-running Explore cycling trip and why?

We launched our first trip in France in the Loire Valley (LV) back in ’97 and this is still going strong. As hosts of the ‘Tour de France’, what better place to start our cycle holidays! The Loire Valley offers a perfect combination of excellent quality, dedicated cycle paths, respectful drivers and a wealth of history and cultural sites to explore along the way. Oh and refuelling on French food and drink isn’t bad either!

4. What’s new in terms of cycling destinations and why?

Burma is popular as the country has opened up and you can do incredible bike rides between the major highlights, such as the ancient capital of Mandalay, temple-studded plains of ancient Bagan, colonial hill station of Kalaw and stilt villages of Inle Lake. (Cycle Burma and Burma by Bike). Other destinations include Tanzania, where you can cycle from Kilimanjaro to Ngorongoro, the world's largest volcanic caldera and enjoy game viewing too - and China with its incredible mix of stunning scenery and culture – you’re seeing the Giant Pandas in Chengdu one day and cycling by terraced rice paddies the next.

5. What can we expect from Explore in the future?

As the cycling infrastructure around the world is constantly evolving and growing, with some superb dedicated cycle paths being built, especially in Europe but increasingly everywhere, cycling holidays are only going to grow in popularity. We’ll certainly be offering new and tantalising trips year-on-year – and we hope you’ll join us!

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