The Tour de France, the top cycling event of the year, recently rolled over the finish line, and the collective reaction from viewers elicited barely more than a ho-hum. Even so, it’s hard to deny the draw of the saddle while you’re watching riders cruise through enchanting French towns and flower-filled countryside.
To that end, here are several bike-centric getaways for travelers who prefer sightseeing on two wheels, whether your desired exertion level is straight up a ski resort in Utah or a simple cruise through the rolling hills of New England.
Tour of Utah: Funding woes have plagued similar U.S.-based cycling events, but the Tour of Utah, which takes place from August 9 to 14, has flourished. Whether you're a cycling aficionado or not, watching riders whiz past at speeds up to 40 miles per hour is an unforgettable experience. Spectators will get plenty of opportunity to take in the action during the final two stages, starting with Stage 4 in Salt Lake City and its nine-loop route around downtown. Stage 5 is the real grinder: a 100-mile trek around Park City that includes two separate 3,000-foot climbs, one through Sundance Ski Resort and the final push up Snowbird Mountain to the finish.
If the prospect of such a ride – which includes 10,880 feet of climbing over four major ascents – gets your legs revved, you can still register for the Ultimate Challenge. The event, which takes place on Saturday, August 6, follows the same brutal route as the pros (though you can opt for a shorter ride). The rewards: spectacular views from the mountaintops and scenery through mountain passes full of alpine meadows and aspen groves that will almost make you forget how bad your quads are burning.
Véloroute des Bleuets, Quebec, Canada: While ice hockey will always rule Canada’s sporting tradition, its cycling scene – from recreational riders to hard-core pros – is gaining speed. Options abound for road and mountain riding throughout the country, but a can’t-miss option is the 159-mile Véloroute des Bleuets Looped Circuit, which encircles Lake St-Jean in Quebec.
The fully paved route is easily doable over a long weekend for more experienced riders. But appealing to everyone is the bounty of accommodations among 15 cities and towns along the way, meaning you can make your ride as all-out or relaxing as you want. Pick from bed and breakfasts to chalets to youth hostels, many of which have a cyclist-friendly certification by the Véloroute des Bleuets. The route is open through October 15.
Cycle the Beautiful Berkshires: With a brutal heat wave still simmering, set your saddle sights ahead to cooler fall temperatures with outfitter Ciclismo Classico’s La Bella Berkshires trip through the spectacular Berkshire Hills of western Massachusetts on a four-day, three-night trip starting Oct. 7 (trips are scheduled throughout the fall).
You’ll ride 35 to 40 miles per day through the bucolic beauty of New England, including a visit to the Norman Rockwell Museum, a winery, and quaint towns. By night, you’ll hang your helmet at a beautiful bed and breakfast in the historic town of Lenox. Gourmet dinners and breakfasts are included, and you’ll get $100 off the $1,795 price tag when you call and mention ShermansTravel.
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