WHETHER it is the influence of the Tour de France, the cost of petrol or the urge to get fit, it seems that Britons are becoming a nation of cycling fanatics.
There was a 30% increase in bookings for cycling holidays last year and the trend looks set to rise.
In recent years cycling has come out of the shadows and received a new lease of life. Issues such as carbon emissions, eco travel and sustainable transport as well as an increase in health and fitness have seen Britons take to the saddle.
Britons have, in the past, cycled less than other Europeans although they take more frequent trips than their continental neighbours. It is here that there is a market for combining mainstream holidays and short breaks with cycle tours.
With some 16% of adults already having taken a cycling holiday, 12% who would like to try such a holiday it leaves a possible market of around six million Britons to entice into this kind of holiday.
There are the die hard sun worshippers, but many holidaymakers are looking for a new experience when booking a holiday. The independent travel market is growing and attracting people who want to try something new, diverse and away from the holiday hot spots.
Many cars cross the channel with bike racks fitted to the back or top, but it is easy and cheap to hire bikes from a tourist office or cycle hire shop. A cycling holiday gives the tourist the freedom to explore villages and places of interest off the beaten track and is also an activity that appeals to families.
Cities such as Paris, Lyons and Marseille now have bike hire schemes to get you around the city, these are popular, cheap and easy to use.
An association ‘Véloroutes et Voies Vertes’ is promoting cycling and the introduction of more cycle paths, especially alongside the canals. The Burgundy canal for instance has cycle paths along almost its total length.
There are hire stations in Saône et Loire, Cote d’Or and Yonne which provide not just bikes but roller blades and mountain bikes; literally something to please all ages and all abilities including people with reduced mobility.
In Dijon you could even try the Segway to get around the town centre; a totally amazing and new experience.