Tracey Croke goes in search of the world’s best biking tours and finds seven that will leave you speechless.
Cycling and Mountain biking has boomed during the pandemic. This fun-charged sport is a great way to get a whole-body and mind workout while exploring the great outdoors.
As restrictions lift and borders open, those who have grabbed life by the handlebars will be itching to see the world on two wheels.
If that sounds like you, here are six experience-rich biking tours we guarantee you will never forget.
1. A safari thriller in Botswana
If you’re game for one of the most thrilling rides of your life, join Horizon MTB on ancient elephant migration trails in Botswana. This incredible bike tour winds through Mashatu Reserve, a sanctuary for the largest herds of wild roaming elephants on private land in Africa. Guests pedal on trails elephants have trampled for thousands of years. Keep your head up. You will clock up big cat sightings, including leopard and cheetah as you clock up the Km.
Local expert rangers, who have an intimate knowledge of the bush, will safely lead you through this truly unique experience. As the guides will tell you, once you stick together in single file, animals see you as a very long shape rather than lunch. And because bikes are much quieter than jeeps, wildlife isn’t as easily spooked, which means you’ll get closer to canopy-munching giraffes, ballet-leaping antelope and herds of pounding wildebeest.
Horizon MTB has been pioneering mountain bike safaris in the African wilderness since 2003 – no wildlife or mountain bikers have ever been harmed.
2. Fatbike through a frozen wilderness
Explore where two wheels have rarely gone before with Secret Compass.
This one-of-a-kind 200-km biking adventure travels across the frozen lands of the Arctic where the Russell Glacier connects with the western coast of Greenland. In 11 days, guests will traverse the full length of The Arctic Circle trail on fat tyre mountain bikes.
From calving glacier faces to the supernatural show of the Northern lights, this is your chance to experience Greenland’s greatest forces of nature by bike.
3. Go off-grid in Tasmania
Blue Derby is the mecca of Australian mountain biking. The custom-built 125-km single trail network caters for all skill levels and riding styles. But it’s known all around the world for its challenging twists and turns.
While several biking tours offer an experienced mountain bike guide, one tour offers a whole lot more.
A kid’s level of fun was one of the principles Steve and Tara Howell kept in mind while creating the Blue Derby Pods Ride . The premium, fully sustainable, mountain bike tour starts from exclusive, stilted, architectural pods hidden deep in the native Tasmanian rainforest.
“Riding bikes and sleeping high in the trees sounded like fun to us,” Steve said. “But also living life like tomorrow matters.”
This is a totally off-grid five-star experience. You’ll roll from a lofty peaceful sleep, straight onto the world-class flow trails of Blue Derby.
Expect roller-coaster style fun in a fairytale-esque rainforest, chef-prepared dinners of the finest local produce and pop-up lunches served in stunning secret spots. Choose from a 2,3 or 4-day guided experience with leaders who will furnish you with the skills and confidence to tackle trails to make you whoop with joy.
4. Brews and views in Colorado
Embrace two of Colorado’s top past times – mountain biking and craft beer – during a bike tour of some of North Colorado’s top breweries.
Front Range Ride Guides operates in two of the state’s ultimate adventure towns where locals have a passion for experimental beers and bikes, Boulder and Fort Collins.
Full-day or half-day tours combine brewery visits with incredible trail rides taking in Colorado’s Front Range or the Rocky Mountains. Front Range Ride Guides also offer multiday options to take in both locations, the ‘Mile High’ city of Denver and surrounding Rockies by mountain bike.
Fort Collins, dubbed Colorado’s capital of craft beer, has two obsessions – bikes and brewing. The town is home to around 100 breweries, including world-renowned New Belgium and Odells. On this tour, guests will ride the Horsetooth Reservoir and Mountain, Cache la Poudre River (white water rafters take note, it’s Colorado’s only designated Wild and Scenic River thanks to its outstanding outdoor recreation, scenic and hydrologic features) and alpine trails. Don’t miss West Valley, South Valley Loop or Lory State Park trails.
In Boulder, the tour tackles the beautiful valleys and canyons of the Rocky Mountain National Park. Try the Betasso Preserve, Flatirons Vista and Walker Ranch/Meyers Ranch.
Half day custom rides are from $US129 per rider for groups of four people ($169 each for two). Full-day tours are $179 per rider for parties of four or $249 per rider for two, including a custom-tailored mountain bike, Mountain Bike Skills Coaching and MTB Skills Instruction, helmet, trail supplies and local Trail Snacks (1/2 day bike tours) or a Locally Sourced Gourmet Packed Lunch (full day bike tours).
5. Full immersion in the Middle East
Jordan’s crowd-pullers, Petra, Wadi Rum and the Dead and Red Sea have always pulled tourists. But few visitors venture beyond the star attractions. The Jordan Bike Trail started as a way to change that. But it has evolved into so much more.
“The idea was to create a trail that allows cyclists to experience the diverse terrain and hidden treasures of Jordan, while still visiting the famous sites,” Matt Loveland, one of the trail’s creators said.
At 730-kilometres it’s tough. But not too technically difficult. The tour winds from Um Qais in the fertile north to Aqaba in the arid south. Don’t worry about lugging stuff with you – that’s all taken care of by Experience Jordan Adventures on this fully supported journey.
Along the way, this sensational adventure plunges into the country’s history, archaeology, culture, faiths and earliest civilisations. And like the best of bike tours, it connects you with the people. If a shorter bite-sized chunk sounds more palatable, this on and off-road adventure can be customised to any length
6. New heights on Europe’s dramatic climbs
If you’ve dreamt of tackling some of the famous quad-busting climbs of Europe’s Pyrenees, Alps or Dolomites, Australian based Maglia Nera (translates to “Black Shirt”) will make your wish come true.
This bike tour pairs a top-notch riding experience with other popular interests. Think Ride plus golf, yoga or cooking.
Expect the highest performance bikes on the market, unique accommodation and award-winning restaurants. This is a journey you won’t forget in a hurry.
Their latest offering explores the northern tip of New Zealand’s South Island mixing the untouched beauty of Abel Tasman National Park with world-famous wine regions.
7. A quick escape to a hidden paradise
Lack of time doesn’t mean you have to miss out on a special experience. From Brisbane Airport, you can fly by private helicopter over The Scenic Rim into the largest privately-owned mountain bike park in Australia.
The 110-kilometre trail network is well-marked and graded for all levels of riders. It’s part of Spicers Hidden Vale, a 12,000-acre property that sensitively serves up uncompromised luxury and unbridled adventure on a conservation plate.
A hard day’s riding will set you up nicely for a luxury spa and paddock-to-plate dining in its truest sense. At the multi-award-winning Homage Restaurant, ingredients are either grown on site or sourced from producers close by. You can finish off with a nightcap around the firepit before flopping into your deluxe cabin of choice.
This biking tours article is a Signature Luxury Travel & Style digital exclusive. Be the first to see more exclusive online content by subscribing to the enewsletter.
Lead image: Riding through other planetary Wadi Rum © Tracey Croke