On yer bike lad!

Are you a bike rider? I try – but don’t do very well. But I am very envious of those who undertake these adventurous cycling trips to exotic places like Thailand or those who tackle the hills of Tuscany. I can’t imagine anything more lovely that touring some of these places by bike.

However, it is not without its dangers as frequent bikers will tell you. I read an interesting article about a protocol that is being introduced in the Netherlands encouraging drivers to open their front door with their right hand after parking alongside the road. Think about it – to open the door with your right hand you have to lean over and this encourages the driver to check if there is anyone coming up alongside (like someone on a bike) and helps to avoid this –

With the number of bikers on the roads of Holland this is good advice. If you have ever visited Amsterdam you will know just how many bikes are out there. It is amazing. People catch the ferries from suburbs across the waters and then park their bikes in huge bike parks like this –

And the Dutch people are so cool when they bike to work. You will see working moms ferrying their children to day care before heading into the office. You see dads doing this too. And did you know you can cycle with high heels on? Well you can.

Well you might be able to but I certainly could not. But seriously if you are an avid cyclist where would you go for a biking vacation? Well ideally you would want somewhere with not too many cars. How about Asmara? Mmmm – now where is that? Capital of Eritrea. Good article on this “cycling heaven” here

It sounds like an interesting place to visit – and relatively unvisited due to the prolonged 30 year war of independence with Ethiopia. The country is very poor so that is why bikes are the preferred and sometimes the only available transportation. This has made the Eritreans remarkably good riders and their team is now competing internationally.

So let’s say you get the old bike out of the back of the garage, spruce it up a bit, pump up the tires and decide to start practising. Once you get good enough to go round Fish Creek Park a couple of times are you ready for a biking vacation?

Well first of all you need to choose the place to go biking – preferably with bike paths (especially for the inexperienced). Most tour companies rate the effort of each bike trip so go easy on yourself to start with. Spoil yourself by choosing a tour with a back up vehicle so you can “give up” when you feel like it and just get in the van. No Shame here! It’s also great to have that same vehicle carrying your bag so all you need on your back is a light day pack. Bad enough lugging your ass around without having to lug a week’s worth of clothing! And maybe you want to consider an electric bike? Yes I know it’s cheating but so what? It’s all about the experience, right?

And lastly – what to wear. Listen you don’t have to dress like Lance Armstrong but you might want to consider a pair of padded cycling shorts. They look ugly but they feel great – take it from one who wears them to spin classes. It takes a bit of getting used to. The first little while you feel like you have pooped your pants – but your butt will thank you in the long run.

My goodness – I have almost talked myself into this? Should I? Should I?

By Lesley Keyter

Lesley Keyter is the face of travel in the fast growing city of Calgary. Every week since 1997 she has has featured live on the Morning News Global TV.


  1. I am interested in seeing bike tours/trips that you do in Italy, Canada or US.
    Many thanks,
    Elfie Gilroy


    1. Hi Elfie, sorry for the late response. I have been cruising in the Caribbean and got back last night. We do have a number of different biking trips with groups and also independent. If you would like you can contact us by email at info@southtravel.ca with your contact information and we can get you set up with one of our specialists. Thanks so much for reaching out, best wishes Lesley


  2. Lesley, Go for it.
    We did a Bike & Barge trip 2017 on Loire River with most of the cycling being along the canal, with some going up to castles and small towns, I booked an e-bike for my wife and she was able to use the power assist up the hills. You have to be relatively comfortable on a bike as you do have to go along some roads and cross some, but the vehicles in rural France seemed to be fairly polite to cyclists
    Once you start looking into it, you will see that there are a tremendous number of trips, with a few levels of comfort on the barge.
    It is a great way to see a country.


  3. Yes, do it! But train for it first, and maybe take a basic course in bicycle maintenance and repair. If your chain snaps while you’re cycling. It’s handy to know how to change it.


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