advertisement

The colors of fall will be within your sights and your reach with this selection of fall bicycle tours in various locations around the world. Whether you choose to stay closer to home, or discover new countries and cultures, doing so at a slower pace on a two-wheeled road trip will make your vacation all the more memorable.

China boasts the largest cycling population in the world (and obviously the largest population in general), so it seems only fitting to use their traditional form of transportation when visiting. If you are on a budget and want to just take a short cycling trip, Cycle China (tel. +86/139-1188-6524; www.cyclechina.com) has a three-day "Great Wall Trekking" tour that departs from Beijing every Monday and Thursday. Priced at a mere $171 per person (four people required for the tour to operate), it includes all transportation, bicycle rental, English speaking tour guide, entrance fees, two-nights simple accommodation, three dinners and two breakfasts. Day one starts at the Mutianyu Great Wall, a restored section of Great Wall, with amazing scenery at 3,000 feet above sea level. Visit the more rustic Jiankou section of the wall which is said to be the most beautiful part of Wall around Beijing. Stay overnight in a very traditional farm home with a Chinese family at the foothills of the Wall and the following day ride on the un-restored Yellow Flower section of the Wall, before staying in a country guesthouse. On the final day, get picked up a driver and head out to another famous part of Great Wall called Huanghua with expansive views of a water reservoir and the Wall as it extends across a massive valley. On the way back to Beijing, stop to visit one of the Ming Dynasty tombs (admission cost is additional).

Still in China, Hong Kong based Grasshopper Adventures (www.grasshopperadventures.com) features a selection of land-only China adventure biking tours. Their "Yunnan - Tiger Leaping Gorge" trip is a 15 day bike tour from Kunming that visits Lijiang, Tiger Leaping Gorge and Dali. Cycling the back roads you will experience the extraordinary natural wonder of Tiger Leaping Gorge, the deepest gorge in the world with it's towering walls and dramatic beauty, meander along the majestic Yangtze River and ride through cobble stoned towns of Dali and Lijiang. The trip is priced at $1,570 with departure son September 15 and October 16, 2006 and March 17, April 14, September 16 and October 20, 2007. Included in this price are eight nights' accommodations in comfortable hotels and a further six-nights in basic guesthouses, 11 breakfasts, nine lunches, nine dinners, eight-days of cycling (a total of just under 300 miles), use of a Hasa front suspension bicycle with Shimano tourney components and off road tires, a support vehicle, luggage transfer, local guides, tour leader, and sightseeing entry fees. Maximum group size is 12 people and this tour is considered moderate to difficult in terms of cycling demand.

Its 15-day "Limestone Trail" tour through the Guangxi Province in Southern China takes riders from Guangzhuo to Guilin visiting Yangshuo, Xingping, the Li Rover and the stunning Limestone Karst Mountains. Departing from Hong Kong, travel up the Pearl River Delta to bike among luscious green rice fields and rivers where children wash their buffalos at sunset. Visit the traditional villages of various ethnic minorities with their own distinctive dress and languages. The $1,570 price includes six-nights accommodation in comfortable hotels, eight nights in traditional guesthouse, ten breakfasts, ten lunches and 11 dinners, bicycle rental, nine-days cycling over a distance of 400 miles and a mixture of sealed roads, dirt roads and some sections of mountain biking trails, support vehicle, local guides, tour leader and entry fees. Departures are on October 8 and November 4, 2006; and March 31, May 12, October 13 and November 3, 2007.

You would think that a tour company called Easy Rider Tours (tel. 800/488-8332; www.easyridertours.com) would be for motorcycles but it is actually for slower paced bicycle tours. Cycling days cover on average 35 to 40 miles, and most days offer a choice of shorter or longer options to suit all levels. They feature an eight-day "Colors of the Alentejo" Portugal cycling tour with two departure dates this fall, September 24 and October 15, 2006 (and two further dates in the spring). It is priced at $2,795 and includes airport transfers, luggage transfers, support vehicle, bicycle rental (top-quality Marin hybrid bikes), seven nights' accommodations in historic Portuguese pousadas (including the 16th century former convent Pousada de Dom João IV, the 15th-century Pousada dos Lóios, the majestic former fortress Pousada Flor da Rosa and the scenic Pousada de Santa Maria's), six dinners with wine, two picnic lunches, and breakfast daily. Departing from Lisbon the tour makes its way north along the Spanish border, and visits the village of Arraiolos, Evora, the Redondo wine region, Vila Vicosa, Estremoz, Alter do Chão, Crato the São Mamede Mountains and the village of Marvão. International airfare is additional but Easy Rider can arrange your flights on TAP Air Portugal from Newark/New York.

VBT Bicycle Vacations (tel. 800/245-3868; www.vbt.com) has a selection of bicycle tours around the world at affordable prices. Their "Puglia, Southern Italy" all-inclusive tour features round-trip international airfare from New York, eight nights' accommodations in traditional farmhouses (Masserie) four- and five-star hotels (the 13th century Hotel La Terra in Ostuni, Masseria Montelauro, the 16th century Masseria Torre Coccaro, the Palace Hotel in Bari and Patria Palace Hotel in Lecce), 13 meals (eight breakfasts, one lunch and four dinners), most transfers, free use of a custom VBT bicycle and helmet, service of two bilingual VBT trip leaders, full van support, daily route directions and maps, sightseeing and cultural activities plus a 5 percent frequent traveler credit to use on a future VBT vacation. This bike tour is recommended for beginners with two to four hours of cycling per day (15 to 35 mile) and a group size of 14 to 20 people. The trip departs on November 11, 2006 and is priced from $2,495.

Check out our Outdoor and Adventure Travel Message Boards.