Got what it takes to wear the yellow jersey?

Every cyclist dreams of pedaling through l’Arc de Triomphe and claiming endless glory. Short of that, there is nothing wrong with viewing the action first hand. Great Explorations has put together two trips for the coming year that deliver the latter (to ride it yourself, you have to earn it).

The first itinerary offers great views of at least three stages of the race, including the mountain stage finish at Le Grand Bornand, the individual time trial at Annecy and finish at Mt. Ventoux. The second itinerary takes you to Paris, where you can view the finish at along the Champs Elysees from balconies overlooking the course.

Both trips feature small groups with expert guides and carefully selected local restaurants. Best of all, you can ride the Mt. Ventoux stage ahead of the pros. We’ve all dreamed of this. Now, you can test your time against the pros! Start training immediately (after you book your trip, of course).

Play chicken in Helsinki traffic

I was pretty impressed by Helsinki‘s public transportation, which was more than ample with trolleys, subways and buses. There were few SUVs, and the bike lane was rarely empty. While the Finns got the ingredients right, the mixing was … well … suboptimal.

The least menacing of the interesting transportation overlaps involves the bike lanes and sidewalk. Neither is clearly defined, and I almost got clipped by a cyclist my first day on the ground. And, that wasn’t the only Finn to take a shot at me. Of course, this is tame compared to the streets, in which cars, buses and trolleys jockey for position.

I actually saw a trolley, bus and car jammed in traffic, while a pedestrian walked straight into a guy wearing headphones while riding a purple woman’s bike. From my spot on the small patio in front of the Klaus K Hotel, I was able to enjoy the misfortune of others. But, I almost lost my arm at the hands of an errant cyclist while taking the few steps back to the front door.With Satan traveling the roads, what chance does any pedestrian have?

I snapped this shot with my Blackberry. This was the taxi in which I rode while in Helsinki over the summer. Needless to say, I did pause for a moment before getting in.

Ecotourism comes to Cambodia

Mountain bikers can reclaim wilderness that once belonged to illegal loggers and poachers. Hidden in the foothills of Cambodia‘s Cardamom Mountains, the village of Chi Pat is now home to a mountain biking experience that is unparalleled in trail and impact.

This new program is the result of cooperation among Wildlife Alliance (formerly known as Wild Aid), Asia Adventures (a Cambodia-based adventure travel company) and the villagers of Chi Pat. Off-road cycling tourists are expected to bring a sustainable source of income to the villagers while exposing guests to some of the world’s last remaining virgin wilderness.

Chi Pat is two hours from Phnom Penh by boat and is portal to old logging routes, undulating trails and streams and shallow rivers. Ride through bamboo thicket, rain forest and hills while gazing upon waterfalls, bat caves and waterfalls. A lucky few will see rare wildlife, such as elephants.

Simply by mountain biking in Chi Pat, you can help the villagers reclaim their home from years of abuse by illicit tree-choppers and hunters. Merely enjoying yourself has never been so powerful.


[Photos thanks to Asia Adventures]

Bike sharing comes to Honolulu

If there isn’t enough to cheer about already, there will be plenty to cheer about in Hawaii come early summer 2009. Bike sharing, a venture that is quite popular in European cities like Barcelona, Paris, and Dusseldorf, will take shape along the south shore of Oahu! Even though I already own a bike, this makes me (a Honolulu resident) giddy as a schoolgirl because I can’t wait to people watch (in other words, check out the hot surfer dudes biking to and fro) and I am hoping this will make the horrendous traffic in town a little more bearable.
Designated bike racks will be placed in Waikiki, Ala Moana, Aloha Tower, and Downtown, and bikers pay on a sliding scale (there is a daily to yearly pass, as well as a usage fee up to $8 for two hours). The proposed bike sharing plan comes from Momentum Multisport Hawaii owner in Kaimuki who wanted to capitalize on the successes of similar programs on the mainland and abroad.

Transportation options are changing here in Honolulu with the Super Ferry to Maui, the Boat to Kapolei, the Rail in the works, and now Momentum B-Cycle ready to coast in the year. It’s no wonder that, according to the United Health Foundation, Hawaii consistently ranks among the top five healthiest states in the U.S. This year it jumped to number two behind Vermont.

Find out more about the Momentum B-Cycle sharing project and check out a map of proposed rack locations by clicking here.

Photo of the Day (9-3-08)

Matt Coats wrote in his description about this picture that he took it from a “secret vantage point” in Guatemala. I’m reminded about the time I stood on a street corner in Hoi An, Vietnam taking pictures of people in various groupings as they passed by on bicycles or cyclos. It took several shots to get the few that were halfway decent.

I wonder where Coats was standing and how did he find his vantage point. Is he in a shed? There is a towel hanging in the shadows. The blues and the reds in this picture are what first caught my attention. The framing could not be more perfect.

If you’ve captured an image from a vantage point that served you well, send it our way at Gadling’s Flickr Photo Pool. It could become a Photo of the Day.