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Book a Bicycle or Motorcycle tourDecember 1, 2007 By: Jennifer Merritt Home-Based Travel Agent
This niche segment is popular with men and women of all ages
Many bike tours are commissionable, and in most cases, the tour company will arrange the trip—all you have to do is book the flights. It sounds easy enough, but finding the right tour to suit a particular traveler is where the hard work comes in. Clients in the so-called cyclotourism market are typically 45 to 60 years old and well traveled. Talk with clients beforehand to find out their interests and whether they've done a bike tour in the past. If you're unsure whether a tour is the right fit for them, ask the operator, who should have an intimate knowledge of the tour and what type of person would enjoy it most.
For a quick informational fix, head to BikeToursDirect (www.biketoursdirect.com), an outfit that represents 150 guided and self-guided tour companies in close to 30 European countries. It's as easy as using the "Tour Finder" tool on the company's web site to select a country and input trip dates and interests (city tour, family favorites and national parks are a few category examples). Prices range from $600 to $1,500. Note that this is an outsourcing arrangement with no split commission, so agents must charge their own service fee. Agents can also call 877-462-2423 for help in finding the perfect tour for their client.
Cycling tours are available in places around the world, some of which you probably associate with biking, others more exotic for this type of travel. One of the most intense itineraries of all— through France's Loire Valley following the same route as the Tour de France—is offered by Cadence Cycling & Multisport Centers (www.cadencecycling.com), which caps off the vacation by presenting participants with a custom-designed bicycle frame made by Cyfac (which has produced bikes for Tour de France competitors, Olympic gold medalists and others) and signed by Cyfac founder Francis Quillon. Price is around $10,000. Cadence is willing to work with agents but has no set commission rate, so agents may have to charge their own fee. Call 8-PRO-CYCLNG or 215-508-4300.
For a motorized two-wheel vacation, South Africa's Camp Jabulani (www.campjabulani.com) runs women-only motorcycle safaris in conjunction with Harley-Davidson. Customizable for groups of four or more women motorcycle enthusiasts, the trip starts with a 300-mile ride from Johannesburg to Camp Jabulani on Harleys that were specially designed for female riders. (A crew-filled truck follows with their luggage.) Travelers then spend three nights at the camp in one of its six suites, which have private decks, plunge pools, fireplaces and personal butlers. Camp Jabulani also offers safaris, hot-air balloon excursions, a gym and spa services.
On the fifth day of the trip, guests again mount their Harleys, departing the camp for a 150-mile ride to the Drakenburg Mountain Range. After spending a night at a boutique hotel in South Africa's highlands (known for excellent trout fishing), the women ride 150 miles to Pretoria, where the trip ends. The price of the package is $5,062 per person, which includes the Harley-Davidson rental with unlimited miles and full insurance, transfers to and from Tambo International Airport, accommodations and some meals and excursions. Agents earn a 10 percent commission; contact Adine Roode at [email protected] for more details.
Another far-off destination for cycling is New Zealand, one of the more ruggedly beautiful and unique countries in the world. Fresh Tracks (www.freshtracksnewzealand.com) has established a bike tour there, encouraging tourists to get off the bus. The company's Milford Wilderness Cycling Tour features a mix of unusual accommodations and an interesting cycling route that takes clients through some of New Zealand's most scenic areas.
The 10-day trip departs from Christchurch, where clients will pedal along the summit ridge before heading to a small boutique winery for lunch. On subsequent days, guests cycle on to Lake Tekapo, Mount Cook and Lake Wanaka, among other places, before concluding the tour in Queenstown. The trip operates through March 2008, with prices starting at $3,353 per person double for accommodations, bicycle, helmet, guides, activities, all breakfasts, nine lunches and five dinners and some taxes and fees. Fresh Tracks pays a 10 percent commission; you can call any reservations agent at 800-667-4744.
With longtime active-travel specialist Butterfield & Robinson (www.butterfield.com), cyclotourists can choose from a portfolio of destinations ranging from Germany to Namibia, Belize to Japan. On a new-in-2008 itinerary, clients can ride the spiritual path from Thailand to Laos. On the 10-day trip, led by a guide and local biking expert, cyclists ride through rice paddies, jungle and other backcountry terrain and visit ancient sights and private homes. The journey begins and ends in Bangkok and features luxurious accommodations along the way. Highlights including riding elephants to the door of the luxury resort, exploring the ancient capital of Chiang Saen, discovering the secrets of Thai cuisine at the Four Seasons' cooking school and biking through forests to the monastery of Wat Umong.
Departure dates in 2008 are November 5 and December 28, with prices starting at $9,895 per person double, which includes accommodations, some meals, guides, admission to events, maps, baggage transport, gratuities, support vehicles and all transportation, including use of Butterfield & Robinson's custom-made bikes and equipment. Butterfield & Robinson pays a 10 percent commission, 12 percent to Virtuoso agents. Contact Morgan or Brad for details at [email protected] or [email protected], or call 800-678-1147.
Head to Bike Riders (www.bikeriderstours.com) for a trip in Portugal: "Pedaling the Alentejan Plain." This trip through the Alentejo region combines walking and biking excursions to Evora (a UNESCO World Heritage site), the village of Monsaraz and Estremoz to visit the Ducal Palace, former home of the many Portuguese royal families. Along the way, stay at inns and castles, sample smoked pata negra and cap off the evenings tasting local wine.
The six-day tour operates from April through October. Travelers ride between 15 and 35 miles of gentle terrain a day. The price, $3,080, includes breakfast, all but one dinner, picnic lunches, plus accommodations in four-star historical residences and castles.
Contact a Bike Riders reservations agent at 800-473-7040 for more information. —JM