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New cycling brochure: the stories behind the trips

Our new cycling brochure has just hit doorsteps around the country, packed with a selection of brand-new trips from Madagascar to Southern Spain. Each of our new trips was carefully crafted by one of our Cycling Product Managers, working closely with our expert local partners. Here are the stories behind our new trips.
 
James Adkin, Cycling Programme Manager, has put together a selection of guided cycling trips, from short breaks in Eastern Europe to adventures through South East Asia.
 
Cycle Madagascar
We haven’t had a cycling in Madagascar trip before and our collection was sorely lacking a trip here. We sent our local partners to recce the trip, and they actually ended up taking the image that would later be chosen for the cover of our new brochure. Martin, our local partner, is actually in the image, which was taken in a small hamlet near Ambalavao, especially beautiful due to the earth houses made from adobe. Martin says: “the villagers greeted us with big smiles, and one especially cheeky boy kept disappearing and reappearing inside his home; the photo was taken went I went over to say hello to him. This was one of many situations when mingling with the locals made the day for me on this tour. Being so generous and friendly, people were always ready to interact with strangers.
 
Cycle Sardinia
Sardinia is a cycle-friendly island and a wonderful destination in its own right. We have grown our popular range of Italian cycling trips in recent years and Sardinia was an obvious omission. In the past we’ve had an itinerary that travelled across the central region and the Supramonte Mountains; this time, following advice from our expert local partners, we decided to concentrate on the wild and sparsely-populated southwesterly corner and Costa Verde – the ‘green coast’. Italy is a great foodie destination and Sardinia is no exception. Our Explore Leader will introduce you to regional specialties such as malloreddus pasta, pecorino sardo cheese, bottarga and Carignano del Sulcis and Vermentino wines.
 
 
Cycle Portugal – Lisbon to Algarve
This is another journey that’s exclusive to Explore, and Portugal is a wonderful and excellent value destination.
I liked the idea of a cycle journey in two parts that plied its way down the Atlantic coast from the capital in Lisbon. Cycling for three days along the entire length of the Vicentine Coast Natural Park is particularly appealing, along with the contrasts from Lisbon down to the lighthouse at Cape Sao Vicente.
 
Cycle Southern Spain – Murcia
Nobody else offers a cycle trip in this region and the semi-desert sunshine of southeastern Spain offers a great value cycle break in the off-season. With plenty of flight options as the winter closes in this is an active short-haul break to revive your batteries. The region has acres of fruit orchards that we cycle past on a couple of days; this is yet another reason to travel in the early season between February and April when the fields light up with colourful blossom, known as la Floración. Watch a video about our Murcia trip here.


Cycle Belarus Short Break
This itinerary is exclusive to Explore – we’re the only company offering a short cycling break in Belarus. Recent government relaxation of the visa requirements means that it is now possible to visit Belarus on a visa-free (and hassle-free) five-day visit. This gave me the idea to develop a short break in an interesting and off-beat destination, well-suited to visiting on two wheels – plus it’s planned over a weekend, so you only need three days off work.
 
Cycle Bangkok to Rangoon
South East Asia is a popular region well suited to exploring on two wheels. Burma quickly became one of my all-time favourite destinations when I visited in 2011 and I particularly loved the south. Thailand is a perennial favourite (with the best food in the world) and travelling through the heart of old Siam offers a great contrast and sense of journey. It’s also another exclusive journey.
 
 
Cycling North Cyprus
I thought it would be a great idea to develop a cycling holiday in North Cyprus, specifically the Karpaz Peninsula. There are no built-up tourist resorts, rather long sandy beaches, quiet backroads and very little traffic. The peninsular is dotted with historical sites and has an interesting contrast of old and new. Villages adorned with bright bougainvillea and lemon and orange groves lining your path, coupled with 320 days of sunshine a year, add to the attraction of cycling in this relatively flat, lesser-visited region of North Cyprus.
 
Krakow to Budapest Cycling
Point-to-point cycling is always appealing, and travelling the route entirely under your own steam creates a huge sense of achievement. With this in mind I thought ‘why not tackle three Central European countries in nine days?’. Starting in the Tatras Mountains you’ll work your way down to the Hungarian Steppe, enjoying stunning scenery and a chance to explore this rural heartland while enjoying all the fresh air and great food the countryside has to offer. 
 
Cycle Romania
I discovered the beauty and appeal of the Transylvanian Alps while on a reconnaissance trip for our walking holiday a few years ago. Since then I have wanted to go back and explore by bike. Romania’s beautiful countryside is home to horse-drawn carriages and dotted with ornate castles and medieval towns. This trip includes a visit to the Libearty Bear Sanctuary, created to rescue over 50 bears found suffering in small rusty cages throughout Romania where they had once been pets or attractions for restaurants and petrol stations. The bears now live in 160 acres of oak and hazel forest which is run by the Millions of Friends Organisation; our visit helps fund the upkeep of the sanctuary and you get to view these magnificent creatures in a natural setting.
 
Self-guided cycling
The self-guided cycling range has five great additions for 2018, from Normandy and a landscape rich in war history, apple orchards and delicious cider, to pedalling around the winelands of Italy’s Prosecco region. Why not stop to the try the popular frizzante wine and rest in Bassano del Grappa to try the famous grappa spirit made from the pomace? Alternatively you could follow the Danube through three countries and their impressive capital cities from Austria to Hungary, refuelling on Sachertorte (type of chocolate cake) and delicious Wachau Valley wines.
 

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