Attention globe-trotting cyclists: If winter-time biking in exotic locations with summer-like climes turns you on, an Italian tour operator that puts “a touch of La Dolce Vita (the good life)” into its trips has two upcoming tours for you.
One, set for Dec. 30, 2013-Jan. 5, 2014, is to the Spanish island of Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands off the northwest coast of Africa. Highlights of the seven-day tour of this volcanic wonderland include cycling from sea level to the 6,300-foot summit of Pico de Las Nieves, the highest peak on the island. Along the way you'll pass through villages, lush forests, deserts, and deep canyons before bunking down in “charming hotels and enchanting country inns.”
“Gran Canaria is a wonderful destination for a winter getaway (with its) ideal climate and fantastic road conditions,” says Lauren Hefferon, founder of Ciclismo Classico, the tour operator.
Prices for the Gran Canaria trip start at $3,995 per person. Just about everything you'll need on the tour is included in the tab, but you'll have to get to the Canary Islands and back home on your own.
The Spanish airline Iberia and other carriers offer nonstop service from major U.S. gateways such as New York-JFK, Chicago-O'Hare, Miami and Los Angeles to Spain's main hub at Madrid, from which connecting flights take passengers to Gran Canaria's Las Palmas International Airport.
The second tour – called “Andalusia Preciosa” – not surprisingly takes you around the Andalusian region of southern Spain. On this trip you'll cycle back to the days when the Moors ruled Spain, including stops at old-world towns and what was once the country's Islamic capital at Cordoba, home of the “Great Mosque” (an ornate combination of a Catholic cathedral and an Islamic mosque). Among other features of the tour are deep immersions into Andalusian dining and Flamenco dancing.
The 10-day tour of southern Spain is set for this coming Nov. 2-10. Prices start at $4,695 per person. Again, you'll have to shell out for transportation to the tour and back.
After flying to Madrid you can connect to an AVE high-speed train ride of a little under two hours to Cordoba, where the tour starts. The tour ends at a town in southern Spain called Ronda, from which it's a four-hour train ride back to Madrid for your homeward jet connection.
Founded as a cycling tour operator in Italy in 1988, Ciclismo Classico has since expanded its tours to Spain, France, Austria, the Czech Republic, Croatia, the New England region of the U.S. and elsewhere around the globe.