Travel by bicycle can be physically fulfilling and aesthetically engaging. Who wouldn't like to pedal through Western Europe by windmills in Spain, olive fields in Italy, vineyards and singing school children in France? How about America, through Western mesas and National Parks, up and down the Texas lowlands or in and out of the tunnel of trees that connect New England? This spring and summer, enjoy the freedom of cycling at your own pace or the luxury of a guided tour.

Escapades (tel. 202/232-1531; is a bike travel operator offering trips through several of the worlds most scenic cycling routes. An eight-day/seven-night trip through the Dordogne and southwest France starts at $1,995 per person based on two people traveling together; add an extra $375 for solo travelers and $135 per person for the bike rental. This trip will take you through rural villages and medieval castles with stops at pre-historic caves and local restaurants. You'll average 30 to 45 miles per day over light hills and generally flat terrain while covering mostly lightly trafficked country roads with vistas of real French country living. Accommodations are covered in the price of the trip and are at small country inns, bed and breakfasts and some small town hotels. Dates for this trip are from June 11 to 18, 2005. Your bike tour starts in Souillac, the center of the Dordogne region that is a five-hour train ride from Paris or a quick two-hour trip from pretty Toulouse. Also included in the trip, as in most Escapade trips, are all breakfasts, six dinners, three picnic lunches and snacks, support van, baggage moving, knowledgeable local guides and admission to the prehistoric caves and other events. Other Escapade bike trips include the Hudson River Valley, the Maine Islands, Southwest Arizona, and the Texas Hill Country. You don't have to be Lance Armstrong to enjoy the Zen of cycling.

For self-guided tours that put you on the road with your own map and your own time, try the bike trips from LB Freedom Tours (tel. 01-44-22-63-377; Billing itself as a self-guided bike and walking tour operator covering the Alps, Italy and Mediterranean Islands, LB Freedom Tours has offices in the United Kingdom and Switzerland and provides many trips to the best bicycle routes in Europe. A seven-day gentle biking trip through the Tuscan vineyards starts at $1,248 with accommodations at three-star hotels in small towns along the tranquil, low-trafficked route. This trip starts in Rome and hits such towns as Villa Petrischio along it's winding route. Rated as an easy cycling trip good for families, the route goes along traffic free tarmac roads and gravel tracks on a terrain labeled mainly flat and descending. You'll sample wine as you pass vineyards and enjoy downtime relaxing in the Italian countryside or the swimming pools of the accommodating hotels. You cover meals on this one. LB Freedom Tours provides you with maps and all necessary local information for sightseeing and learning. Other trips include Sicily, Sardinia, Umbria, Cyprus, and Swiss Pastures. Expect to spend about two nights in each area and travel lightly and slowly through magnificent European locales getting in-depth cultural and topographical knowledge as you go. LB Freedom Tours is a small family run business now in its sixth year of operation.

If the colonial, pristine beauty of old country New England tickles your fancy, Bike the Whites (tel. 800/447-4345; provides three-night tours of New Hampshire's White Mountains with stops at country inns. Complete with candlelight dinners and hearty breakfasts at each inn, the Bike the Whites tours have an exceptional reputation for covering the wonders of the great outdoors and the easy comforts of the great indoors. Tour packages start from $279 in May and go to $329 in June and $379 from July to mid-September. Prices are per person based on double occupancy and include all taxes and service fees. The inns have one thing common, they are all gorgeous. To familiarize yourself with the White Mountains check out for facts, figures and local flavor.

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